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Theological Commission: HIV and AIDS – Response and Action

September 27, 2006
WEA Theological Commission

"Promoting Biblical Truth by Networking Theologians"

Annual Meeting Nairobi, Sept 21-23, 2006

The WEA TC, in conjunction with World Vision, , held a workshop on HIV and AIDS September 20-21, 2006, led by Dr Ken Gnanakan and Dr Danny McCain with about 15 other local participants. At the conclusion, the following statement was prepared for international circulation

HIV and AIDS – Response and Action

HIV and AIDS has become the biggest threat to human survival with potential to wipe out a whole civilization. Facing growing challenges on the one hand and encouraged by many successful programs on the African continent, we gather as committed Christians to respond as God leads us to act. We recognize the need to create the right climate where on the one side people see all the implications of the dreaded social disease, but on the other side demonstrate acts of concern and support, design effective programs of education and engage in all possible creative and proactive measures that will bring healing to individuals and communities.

We are aware of the great deal of work already being done and enormous resources being pooled into facing these challenges but recognize the need to harness resources and energies to scale up our efforts to accomplish our God given task. We also need to discern gaps and see how we could help fill them appropriately. Rather than scattered activities, we need to develop sustainable strategies in order to meet the challenge at all levels. HIV and AIDS has become an industry with many involved for various reasons, and our efforts must bring about heartfelt responses that will impact individuals and communities with Christ’s compassion.

Poverty and Development: One major aspect of our battle against HIV and AIDS is to recognize the impact of poverty in this scourge. Various interlinked factors such as drugs, alcohol, unemployment etc have played their part. Poverty and development is integral to holistic mission. There is a vicious cycle that must be highlighted – poverty brings about AIDS and AIDS aggravates poverty. A holistic mission needs to be developed that tackles poverty and all its implications to the devastation caused by AIDS.

The Family: The AIDS crisis has also resulted in a crisis in the family. Millions of children are being orphaned. These children are often mistreated and stigmatized amongst their peers; young girls often ending as prostitutes. Dehumanizing influences have stripped people of sense of value and dignity. There is need for the whole community to get alongside through supporting roles and the church must facilitate this. A child must be allowed to grow up in an enabling environment to become a normal social being. Many children suffer from a shattered image of their parents. The parent image needs correction from biblical perspectives.

Church: The church is the most influential institution to bring healing but there is an urgent need for it to accept its mission. There is need for building the church’s capacity to act responsibly. The whole church – adults, children, men and women – must be equipped to demonstrate Christlike attitudes and actions. Sunday school programs must be carefully designed to inculcate right attitudes in children from a young age. The church must truly become the salt and light and restore Kingdom values in all of society. God’s mission through the church must bring transformation that will lead God’s people to committed service at all levels. The church has the resources to take people “from ill-being to wellbeing.”

Education: Education must play a key role in accomplishing our mission. We heard of powerful educational models right from primary school education to university levels of training. An integrated approach is required. AIDS is not just health problem, it is a social disease. Hence, educational systems must integrate a whole range of disciplines to bring about effective programs that will result in change in society. Teachers need to be trained at all levels to get engaged in awareness and educational programs to help accomplish our goals. Results can be multiplied through appropriate educational programs, proving that small investments can produce big gains in our fight against HIV and AIDS. Education must equip people for sustainable livelihoods and therefore vocational training should go alongside our academic educational programs.

Faith-based community programs: Faith-based community programs will prove to be beneficial in our mission. These must seek to bring together people of all religious commitments on a common platform to fight the battle. AIDS knows no religion and therefore we could use religion as a common platform. Religious teachers of all faiths must be trained who will take up the challenge of teaching in the community.

Resources: Enormous resources have been made available but we need to mobilize these for more effective outcomes. There are resources available from Government and non-government agencies that have not been accessed by the church. We are not in need of merely finances but everything that contributes to facilitating our mission. Responsible stewardship must be emphasized as we handle all these resources.

Media: The media can play a positive role in helping reduce the global impact of HIV and AIDS. Individuals and institutions can use the media to communicate values that will restore the health of the whole community and equip people to engage in efforts wherever possible.

Theology and Theological education: Seminaries, Bible colleges, Universities and public institutions and all types of institutions engaged in discussions of theological issues must address areas such as

A renewed study of history

A critical analysis of society and culture

A renewed understanding of biblical doctrines such as love, redemption, reconciliation, forgiveness

A deeper understanding of love and compassion

Poverty and development

Family particularly the role of fathers and mothers

Human life – value, dignity

Sexuality

Our Task: Committing ourselves a holistic mission as our Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated we identified some areas for our engagement:

Capacity building exercises at all levels of the community

Advocacy at all levels

Awareness programs

Integrating into formal educational systems

Networking all available efforts and resources

Documenting of models and case studies from al over the world etc

Local actions involving individuals and groups

Working together with Government and Non-Government organisations

Harnessing more resources of all kinds

Education at all levels

ACTION AGENDA

At the start of our workshop we identified three outcomes:

First, to develop a network of Christian resources or link into existing networks to make available resources all over the world. A small group has been identified for this task and World Vision will be facilitating this.

Second, we need to educate our congregations and provide them with the means with which to minister to communities within their reach. There is plenty of material available whether from the governments or from church organizations. The group identified various ways in which the church can make its people aware and educate them. These ranged from Sunday school right through to the preaching and teaching of the Word of God. We heard of some initiatives from churches represented by the participants.

Third, we sought to develop curriculum that can be used in Bible colleges and seminaries. The themes identified above could be integrated into various subjects and curricula; also specialized courses could be developed. The WEA-Theological Commission and the International Council for Higher Education will follow up.

Enquiries:

Ken Gnanakan gnanakan@vsnl.com

Rev Dr David Parker
Director of Administration and Publications
Editor, Evangelical Review of Theology and Theological News
tc@worldevangelicalalliance.com
http://www.worldevangelicalalliance.com/commissions/theological.htm
17 Disraeli St., Indooroopilly, Queensland, 4068
Tel (+61 7) 3878 3178 Cell 0404 083 108