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Old 05-28-2006, 04:34 PM   #1
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Thank you FYM and help on STIGMA

I would like to thank everyone who has guided me so far into my journey as an activist for Africa. Your help and well wishes has paid off.

There was very little adult response to the classes my wife and I ran in January/February. The result was the adults thought it would be a good thing to bring to the Senior High religion class.

Being an elementary teacher, I am not into the High School age student, however, I was at the same time asked to be a confirmation sponsor by a former student in the high school. Aparently someone upstairs had other plans for me.

I worked with the Senior High youth for the month of March and April.

I left them for a few weeks only to be called back. They are working a bike a thon to raise money for Episcopal Relief to help fund priojects that will help gain women economic independence. This is where they feel they will make the biggest and a long term impact.

I thought I was done, when my Priest asked me to give the sermon for Pentacost at two of the three services next week. I have a pretty good start on it but I am looking for your help.

I am approaching the sermon with the idea that these kids represent a lighting of the Pentacost flame. No problem there.

The middle part of my sermon is about STIGMA. I need some ideas, scripture verses, and solid arguments that it matters NOT how you got the disease. One parishoner said to me that the difference between AIDS and a TSUNAMI is that the person suffering from AIDS did something to aquire it.

I have quoted Isaih 58 as Bono did at the prayer breakfast. But I think I need more. The facts I quote are about women and children and the fact that they are the largest growing segment of sufferers but this whole STIGMA thing is amajopr raod block.

Thoughts?
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Old 05-28-2006, 04:35 PM   #2
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And yes I have a migrane....ala typos and spelling please forgive me.
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Old 05-28-2006, 04:37 PM   #3
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Be gentle...here is the work in progress:

[Q]I have seen something remarkable during the last few months here at Christ Church. Have you seen it? Have you heard it? Maybe this verse of scripture will help?

2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

I saw a spark turn into a flame. Surely after hearing this you know what I am speaking of? It happened here during the 10:00 Service on May 21. I heard it loud and clear and I saw it with my own eyes! Did you?

So often God has tried to reach us in the strangest of ways. I think God has a tremendous sense of humor. There has been quite a cast of characters in the Bible chosen to lead God’s people. Some have quite the rap sheet. But think about it for a minute, the King of the kingdom coming, born in a stable. What a humble beginning! A beginning that today would hardly make the headlines. We know what our celebrities are doing. We know every move Brittany Spears makes with her child. Maybe the Holy Spirit is speaking to us quietly and our volume is not turned up? Maybe we are tuned in to the wrong channel?

If only we heard and saw the Holy Spirit the way it is described here in the Gospel. It appears that we are tuned in to the major events of the world and we respond to them when they scream out loudly to us. Hurricanes, Tsunami’s and other tragedies scream loudly to us and demand a response. Historically this is nothing new. The Bible is full of large events with God trying to get our attention and the events in this book were important enough to be written down and passed down. And history has shown that we are tuned and responsive to the large events? Aren’t we?

Eighteen tsunamis have hit the continent of Africa since the Tsunami that struck Indonesia in December of 2004. Did you see it in the news? Colin Powell spoke about the WMD that is destroying this continent. He found a real WMD and spoke about it publicly.

The HIV/AIDS crisis is bad. It's a pandemic. It's a weapon of mass destruction. Millions and millions of people are at risk and it's not just a human issue. It's a political issue. It's the destruction of society, the destruction of country, the destruction of hope for a better life.

Why has America been slow to act on this WMD? Is it STIGMA? When we hear the word AIDS do we have preconceived notions about the disease that prevent us from responding? Do we have prejudices that are hiding in the shadows of our heart that allow stigma to justify inaction. In March the Anglican Church in Kenya publicly apologized for their position on AIDS.

"Our earlier approach in fighting Aids was misplaced, since we likened it to a disease for sinners and a curse from God," said Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi.


Think about it; up until a few months ago the church in Kenya responded with the belief that AIDS is a disease for sinners and a curse from God. It is time we got rid of the STIGMA and started to take action.

AIDS is NOT a disease for sinners any more than leprosy was in Jesus’ day.

Women, married, faithful women are the largest growing population of people suffering from AIDS worldwide. 50% of the worldwide sufferers from the AIDS virus are women. 57% of the suffering in sub-Saharan Africa are women.

15-24 year old children and young adults account for ½ of all new infections worldwide. In some countries in Africa 60% of the 15 year olds are projected to die of AIDS.

There are currently more than 12 million orphans in sub-Saharan Africa. Surely we would be hearing about it on the nightly news that by 2010 27 million children will have lost one parent, with 12 million losing both parents in Africa.

Snap fingers every three seconds.

I again ask you to think with me. If this were happening in Europe would it be on the news? Would we hear about it? Why isn’t this getting more press?

But I am off topic. There are well over 2,000 verses in the Old and New Testament specifically directed at how we treat the poor and the suffering. In a way the prophet Isaiah commanded Israel to stop worrying about STIGMA.



58:9
If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
58:10
if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.


Do you see the light? A small event has occurred here in Christ Church that in reality is a large event. I believe the Pentecost flame has been lit here in this church. Our high school students have taken up a cause. Maybe it was not the loud rushing wind sound described in scripture, but maybe it is our job to help make it turn into that roaring fire. Our youth need our support to make this light rise in the darkness as Isaiah says will happen. We need to treasure the flame that is flickering, and maybe with the help of this community, we can take the flicker started with these children and make that light a roaring fire. Maybe it is up to us to help make the Pentecost flame a reality.[/Q]

Yes I know there are typos....bur it is a work in progress.
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Old 05-28-2006, 04:47 PM   #4
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Re: Thank you FYM and help on STIGMA

Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox
One parishoner said to me that the difference between AIDS and a TSUNAMI is that the person suffering from AIDS did something to aquire it.

Thoughts?

I guess throttling that parishioner is not an option?


I did think that you could perhaps cite statistics that show what percentage of AIDS patients got the disease unwittingly (from spouses, in utero, but then I realised that just feeds into the perception that people with AIDS somehow deserve it.

Maybe you need to point out (I'm not sure how....guess I'm not much help) that if we all got what we "deserved," we all be in deep shit.
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Old 05-28-2006, 05:35 PM   #5
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I think you've done a good job and comparing it to leprosy is probably a pretty effective tool in terms of who your audience it. And it's a reasonable analogy to boot.

I wish I could be of more help but to be honest with you I'm feeling very negative about these sorts of things. I'm sick and tired of humoring bigots or people with ridiculous opinions and I'm at the point where I think it's such a waste of time to try to convince them. I mean if an adult, rational, intelligent person needs to be convinced that AIDS isn't something you deserve, then to me, they're beyond hope. Sad, but there you have it.
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Old 05-28-2006, 05:38 PM   #6
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Re: Re: Thank you FYM and help on STIGMA

Quote:
Originally posted by indra



I did think that you could perhaps cite statistics that show what percentage of AIDS patients got the disease unwittingly (from spouses, in utero, but then I realised that just feeds into the perception that people with AIDS somehow deserve it.

When I hear things like what came out of that parishoner's mouth it makes my skin crawl!

And to add to what Indra said, there's also the scary statistic(and I wish I knew the exact stat) that something like 50% of girls in Africa have been raped by age 16.
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Old 05-28-2006, 07:20 PM   #7
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Re: Re: Re: Thank you FYM and help on STIGMA

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Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar



And to add to what Indra said, there's also the scary statistic(and I wish I knew the exact stat) that something like 50% of girls in Africa have been raped by age 16.
Wow! That's an inconcievable statistic from a Western POV.

But how do we, as outsiders, prevent something like that from happening?

How do we popularise the notion that paedophilia and sexual assault is wrong when it seems to have become so ingrained in everyday life in Africa?

It certainly raises questions as to how such a horrific statistic could still exist in the 21st century, as well as raising questions over moral standards.
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Old 05-28-2006, 08:41 PM   #8
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There was nothing in Jesus's words that allow us to judge. It is expressly forbidden. But we are commanded to do: "Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me."-- whatever guise that comes in. I wouldn't walk away from that parishioner's viewpoints. I'd hit at it head on.

"Depart from me...For I was hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty and you gave me no drink. I was a stranger and you took me not in; naked and you clothed me not. sick, and in prison, and you visited me not...Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me."
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Old 05-28-2006, 09:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by anitram
I think you've done a good job and comparing it to leprosy is probably a pretty effective tool in terms of who your audience it. And it's a reasonable analogy to boot.

I wish I could be of more help but to be honest with you I'm feeling very negative about these sorts of things. I'm sick and tired of humoring bigots or people with ridiculous opinions and I'm at the point where I think it's such a waste of time to try to convince them. I mean if an adult, rational, intelligent person needs to be convinced that AIDS isn't something you deserve, then to me, they're beyond hope. Sad, but there you have it.
Nope, they are not beyond hope.....

They are questioning the difference between putting their money towards a natural disaster VS a disease that people view as behavior oriented.
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Old 05-28-2006, 09:37 PM   #10
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Re: Re: Re: Thank you FYM and help on STIGMA

Quote:
Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar


When I hear things like what came out of that parishoner's mouth it makes my skin crawl!

And to add to what Indra said, there's also the scary statistic(and I wish I knew the exact stat) that something like 50% of girls in Africa have been raped by age 16.
Of I can convince that person, then we win.

I am searching for a source for that stat any idea?
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Old 05-28-2006, 09:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox


Nope, they are not beyond hope.....

They are questioning the difference between putting their money towards a natural disaster VS a disease that people view as behavior oriented.
And I find that pathetic. Pathetic.

If you are walking down the street, and you see a homeless man sitting and hungry and you give him $10 to get lunch and he then spends $5 on a beer and $5 on a Big Mac, does that absolve you of your duty to help him? Does that make your act any less honourable? Does it make it any less in step with "anything you did for these least brothers of mine"?

If you don't want to help somebody because you think they had it coming, you are playing God. We need to help, and let him sort the rest out.

Anything else is pathetic to me.
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Old 05-28-2006, 09:59 PM   #12
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I agree with you....

How do I get them to get through the STIGMA. That is my point, to get the ball rolling, the reality is there are people with that view. They most likely want to help....but something stops them from moving forward.
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Old 05-28-2006, 10:04 PM   #13
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Thank you FYM and help on STIGMA

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Originally posted by Dreadsox


Of I can convince that person, then we win.

I am searching for a source for that stat any idea?
When I get some time, I'll try and find that info...
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Old 05-28-2006, 11:14 PM   #14
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That 50% statistic sounds right when you consider the misperception many in Africa have that having sex with a virgin with cure you of AIDS. Something as simple as education could stop the spread of AIDS in these cases.

Dread, I think the lepers analogy is a great one! You also may want to consider the Good Sumaritan -- what made him so good is that he stereotypically would not help a person of that ethnicity and did anyway because that's what a moral person should do.

I think that's what you really have to hammer home -- the morality of letting these people die just because they "asked for it" because of their actions. Remind them that what makes people Christian is not going to church on Sunday, it's what you do when you walk out those doors and live your life as an example of a good person that makes you a Christian. Regardless of how these people contracted AIDS is not the issue. We as Christians are called to help everyone!

This reminded me of part of the Beatitudes in Luke [6:37-38]:
Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven, give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.

Good luck with all of this! I am truly a believer that things happen for a reason. There are paths I never would have gone down if I had a choice, but those are the paths that I wouldn't have chosen have been the most rewarding sometimes.
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Old 05-29-2006, 08:50 AM   #15
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I read about this last week, and this is just one area in Africa. If this doesn't convince someone I don't know what would, and maybe this would be helpful because it's a current news report. Some people need to open their eyes and learn what goes on there, and stop being so judgmental about things they really know nothing about .

Congo: A Hell on Earth for Women

http://www.worldpress.org/Africa/1561.cfm

According to a U.N. department, “on average, some 40 women were raped every day between October 2002 and February 2003 in and around the town of Uvira,” a town with a population of between 200,000 and 300,000. A network of eight local nongovernmental organizations, supported by the International Rescue Committee, each month takes in nearly 1,000 women, girls, and boys who have been raped in North and South Kivu, the latter province being these organizations’ focal point.

Typically, an attack begins a few hours after nightfall. After encircling a village, armed men divide into groups that alternately plunder and rape. Around 2 or 3 a.m., they grab men from the village to help carry the booty back to their base. The most ragtag of the armed bands, the jungle-dwellers, the Mayi Mayi (originally local self-defense militiamen) and armed Hutus—genocide criminals or survivors of the massacres in the “first war”—will also kidnap women and girls from the target village. These women serve as domestic and sexual slaves for weeks or months, and they are sometimes traded from one armed band to another.

Since the beginning of 2002, the sexual assaults have followed patterns so common that they are becoming commonplace. Several men gang-rape a woman, repeatedly. The husband is tied up in the hut, the children are brought in; the whole family is obliged to witness the humiliation of the wife and mother. “Eight or 10 of them raped me,” one victim recounts. “My husband told me so.” The victim passed out well before the men had finished with her. Increasingly, the assailants force fathers to commit incest with daughters, or brothers with sisters. They even sodomize men, a practice that is unimaginable in the African countryside, even as part of consensual sex. The victims range in age from 4 to 80.

Some 19 percent of the female victims test positive for HIV/AIDS, according to one medical source; another source puts the level at 30 percent. Fully half of the victims are syphilitic, a condition that greatly increases future risks of HIV infection. Health authorities estimate that two thirds of the fighters—regulars and irregulars—have HIV/AIDS. To a populace ripped apart by a long, cruel war, feeling abandoned by the national capital, Kinshasa, and the world, these statistics on HIV/AIDS are so horrifying that leading public figures in Kivu have denounced what they see as a Machiavellian extermination plot, if not attempted genocide. Another argument is raised: The wave of rapes is said to have begun with the regular Rwandan army, early in 2000, around the time when Kigali decided to use eastern Congo as a buffer, having abandoned as impractical the idea of turning the entire country into a Rwandan satellite. Today, however, everyone agrees that all the armed groups, without exception, commit rape en masse, with the worst offenders probably the armed Hutus.

Why? Mathilde Muhindo speaks of “violence for violence’s sake,” because “these men no longer know why they’re fighting, nor whom.” But the wave of barbarism is seen by others as being primarily a weapon of war. “In every case, this is a planned effort of destabilization, not uniquely by force of arms, but also by AIDS and starvation,” says a high-placed religious figure in Bukavu.
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