Last summer, my youngest daughter Lauren went on a mission trip to Tabora, Tanzania. She wanted to work with children who were orphaned due to the AIDS epidemic in Africa.
For three months, Lauren taught, looked after, and played with these unfortunate children – unfortunate, not just because their parents had died of AIDS, but because the ‘sin’ of their fathers was visited upon the children, most of whom had AIDS themselves. In some of the communities where they live, these children are treated as outcasts. They face harsh realties with no one to protect or provide for them. Their childhood is blighted by illness, prejudice, and hopelessness.
The workers at the organization where Lauren was stationed try to do as much as they can to make the lives of these AIDS kids as pleasant as they can. They give of their time, skills, and resources to ease the suffering, insecurity, and sicknesses of the children. They do something beautiful and worthwhile, which is largely ignored and forgotten by the rest of the world.
When Lauren came back from Tabora, she decided to help one little girl called Elizabeti. She sponsored her so that Elizabeti could go to a private school and be given a good education. Lauren proudly possesses a photograph of Elizabeti in her school uniform. The wee lassie’s eyes gleam with pride and happiness in the photograph. She has been given an opportunity that was beyond any of her dreams.
Sadly, we received news this morning that Elizabeti died. Her sickness was too much to bear for her wee body and the dreaded disease that claimed her parents has taken another victim. Lauren’s heart is broken and she is angry with God.
This war against AIDS in Africa has been going on for over thirty years. How can we keep this going on? The war against terrorism has preoccupied our western nations. Thousand of civilians and soldiers have died fighting terrorism, and yet millions upon millions of people have died in Africa from the scourge of AIDS. With all of our resources, when will we truly begin to wage the war against a real foe?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, why are children dying in Africa from AIDS? Why are we so preoccupied with international criminals instead of dreaded diseases? What are You calling and expecting us to do to wage this war against an evil illness that is destroying people all over this planet? When will the ‘sins’ of the fathers stop becoming the punishment inflicted upon their children? How long, O Lord, will this continue? Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to email@example.com.