Minute for Mission: PCUSA World AIDS Sunday
Ministering faithfully in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic has called for creativity and solidarity. Who would have predicted that producing masks would be a part of fighting HIV and AIDS? The Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM), the PC(USA)’s partner church, has been committed to fighting HIV and AIDS since 2001.
When COVID-19 arrived in March 2020, everything changed. Travel and meeting restrictions were put in place to reduce the spread of the virus. Many of FJKM AIDS’s activities were put on hold. Others, like HIV testing, stopped altogether. One need the AIDS Committee identified was for masks. So, it produced masks to share with seminary students and their families and those living with HIV and AIDS. Although delayed in 2020, the AIDS Committee was able to carry out its AIDS training at all five of FJKM’s seminaries and distribute masks. Now when trainings occur, everyone is wearing masks and being socially distant. Instead of eating together, which facilitates the spread of COVID-19, bags of rice and oil are shared with the seminary students.
Unfortunately, HIV testing in Madagascar and in Africa has been greatly affected. Only individual testing is available at certain locations. In many locations, it has been difficult to get medications to those living with HIV and AIDS.
In a mark of solidarity, the PC(USA) sent a grant to help the FJKM in its AIDS ministry. This has helped the AIDS Committee as it has tried to find relevant and creative ways to continue its fight against HIV and AIDS amid the COVID-19 pandemic and be an advocate for those living with HIV and AIDS who often have no voice.
FJKM’s commitment to fighting HIV and AIDS amid difficult odds can be an inspiration for local PC(USA) congregations to become more involved in their local communities’ issues with HIV and AIDS.
Elizabeth Turk, Mission Co-Worker in Madagascar, World Mission, Presbyterian Mission Agency
FJKM seminary students and family members wear masks from the FJKM AIDS Committee. (Provided)
(Original article can be found on https://www.presbyterianmission.org/story/june-27-2021/)