We have just started another series of trainings for church members in HIV care. We call it Loving your Neighbour - with AIDS. The course is done in 4 sessions which we spread over 1.5 months, since we conduct the sessions on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays.
We prayed a lot for this batch. There was no electricity in the centre for a whole week before the first session on the 14th as the underground cable supplying the centre was burned out. Further, the monsoon had hit Thane in force - the wettest start in a decade. But on the 14th we had minimal rain - and the electricity had been restored the afternoon before. Looking at the 30 odd participants one thing was clear - that God had called each one of them - and that none were there by chance.
It was a delight to share what we have learned over the past 6 years of working with people with HIV - and a delight to see in the participants not only churcch people who wanted to serve people with HIV - but people with HIV themselves who are now part of the church themselves - and are exploring how to serve others!
Sheba did an excellent job teaching the basics of HIV and about how to treat people who are suffering from Tuberculosis. The discussions were good - the questions lively - the food great.
But the highlight for most of us was when James told us his story at the end of the day. I have heard it a number of times before in different occassions, but the power is still there - and each time there is a different twist. How vital it is for our hard hearts to be softened - and what power when a person gives his or her own story about what happened in their life with HIV - and what God has been able to do.
James told us that last month he had been visiting different pastors to encourage them to send young people to the YAA clubs training. One senior leader he met told him point-blank: "You people at JSK are wasting your time. Why work with people who are anyway going to die? Why not invest your time and money in people who will live - you will get far better returns from that."
James shared that he just listened to this man and did not reply immediately. Then finally James told him quietly: "I am grateful that a man spent 3 years encouraging me about Jesus - and that he did not give up. I am today who I am because this man did not consider it a waste of time to invest in me."
There were more than a few tears in our eyes. But the kicker is this - James went back to the same leader a few weeks later - and was warmly welcomed by him.
How much our hearts need to change. And what potential there is in each person. And how much God yearns to love the world more through his Church!