Combating HIV : a ministerial strategy for Zambian churches

Ndhlovu, Japhet (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2008-03)

Abstract

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This work is about a missiological praxis for the creation of 'Circles of Hope' as an entry point for faith based organisations and, particularly, local churches in Zambia for an effective battle in the fight against HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). The HIV pandemic is one of the worst tragedies to have befallen humankind in the 21st century. Lost to many people is the fact that it does not affect all regions of the globe equally. Figures show that over 70% of PLWHA (people living with HIV) are in sub Saharan-Africa while most affected are young and therefore, in theory, energetic. With an overall HIV prevalence rate of 16% and a life expectancy of 34 years, HIV has severely impacted the lives of Zambians across the country. Stigma remains one of the most significant challenges in Zambia across the prevention-to-care continuum. The wider environment of these effects and statistics has provided for us the wider contextual situation. The Church in Zambia and, indeed, in the entire sub-Saharan African region cannot afford to hide its head in the sand anymore. The impact of HIV is being felt at all levels of society. This has posed a threat to economic progress and human development by attacking the most economically productive age group and reversing gains in life expectancy and child survival. The increasing burden on health budgets has stretched national and community resources to the limit, leaving no room for complacency or pretence about the magnitude of the problem. Since some members of the Church are positively infected, we can safely say of the Church: the body of Christ has HIV. HIV is a national disaster. It cannot be managed without mobilising all the sectors within a nation. The Church in Zambia needs to make HIV prevention a matter of compelling priority. The Church is an instrument for the missional praxis of the triune God. Theology in this work is not so much a scientific endeavour that begins and ends with analysing contexts and texts, rather it is an imaginative way of finding new answers to the new situation brought about by the presence of HIV (Hendriks, 2004: 30). In this work the researcher contends that measures are required to develop strong theological reflections and education which would result in the establishment of Circles of Hope in all local congregations. These Circles of Hope would act as a fountain for promoting behavioural change, support action for safer sexual behaviour, and combat stigmatisation and discrimination against people with known HIV infection. There must be appropriate theological reflections that touch on the work of the reign of God. A relevant HIV theology will necessarily involve the laity, will watch out for fundamentalist views, will be biblical in nature and will draw from Trinitarian understanding. The basis of moving from a theology of punishment to that of care, truth, freedom, justice and peace is the theology of community and companionship. This reflection is an attempt to have constructive interpretation of the present realities brought about by a time of HIV. One can only discern God‘s will for the present situation through critical and sensitive leadership in order to bring about genuine healing. The role of the local church and networking activities are essential commodities to realise a vision of a Zambia that is HIV competent. This then is the new ministerial strategy being spearheaded by the 'Circles of Hope' programme of the Council of Churches in Zambia. It is a challenge for Zambian churches.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die navorsing handel oor ʼn missiologiese begronde praksis vir die skepping van 'Kringe van Hoop' as 'n beginpunt vir geloofsgebaseerde organisasies en spesifiek die plaaslike kerk in Zambië in hulle stryd teen MIV (Menslike Immuniteits Virus). Die MIV pandemie is een van die ergste tragedies wat die mensdom in die 21ste eeu getref het. Wat baie mense nie altyd besef nie, is dat dit nie oral in die wêreld dieselfde impak het nie. Statistiek wys daarop dat meer as 70% van alle MIV positiewe mense Suid van die Sahara woon. Die meerderheid van die geïnfekteerdes is jonk met baie potensiaal. 16% van die bevolking in Zambië is MIV positief en het 'n lewensverwagting van 34 jaar. Die uitwerking hiervan raak die land en al sy mense. Naas voorkoming en versorging bly een van die grootste uitdagings wat die gemeenskap in Zambië moet aanspreek stigmatisering. Die groter konteks Suid van die Sahara vorm die agtergrond van elke land se spesifieke probleme. Ook Zambië en met name die kerk in Zambië sal die feite in die oë moet kyk. Die pandemie is 'n bedreiging vir ekonomiese vooruitgang en menslike ontwikkeling omdat dit die ekonomies mees produktiewe ouderdomsgroep afmaai, lewensverwagting verlaag en kindersterftes laat toeneem. Die toenemende las op die gesondheidsbegroting het die nasionale en gemeenskapshulpbronne grootliks uitgeput. Die omvang van die probleem kan op geen manier meer ontken en negeer word nie. Aangesien baie lidmate MIV positief is, kan 'n mens goedskiks verklaar dat die liggaam van Christus MIV het. Dit is ʼn nasionale tragedie. Die pandemie kan nie bestry word sonder dat al die sektore van die samelewing daarteen gemobiliseer is nie. Die kerk in Zambië moet die voorkoming van MIV as 'n uiters noodsaaklike prioriteit beskou. Die Kerk is 'n instrument vir die missionêre praksis van die drie-enige God. Die navorsing beskou teologie nie as 'n wetenskaplike onderneming wat bloot handel oor 'n analise van kontekste en tekste nie. Teologie is iets waarin jy handelend en verbeeldingryk toetree tot die aanspreek van 'n veelbewoë situasie en antwoorde probeer vind op die probleme (Hendriks, 2004: 30). Die navorsing werk met die hipotese dat die probleem vanuit 'n teologiese hoek benader moet word sodat teologiese beginsels die praktykteorie van Kringe van Hoop in plaaslike gemeentes sal onderskraag. Die studie voorsien dat die Kringe van Hoop die hoof dryfveer sal wees wat gedragsverandering sal bevorder, veiliger seksuele gedrag sal aanmoedig, en die stryd teen die stigmatisering en diskriminasie sal voer. Gepaste teologiese refleksie oor die heerskappy van God is noodsaaklik. 'n Revelante HIV teologie sal gewone lidmate insluit, sal bedag wees op fundamentalistiese sieninge, sal bybels wees en sal gebaseer wees op ʼn trinitariese godsbegrip. Die teologiese basis vir die wegbeweeg van 'n teologie van straf/oordeel na een van versorging, waarheid, vryheid, geregtigheid en vrede, is geleë in gemeenskap en kameraadskap. Hierdie refleksie is 'n poging om in 'n tyd van HIV 'n konstruktiewe interpretasie te gee van die huidige realiteite. Kritiese en sensitiewe leierskap behoort in die huidige situasie te poog om God se wil te soek om die gebrokenheid van 'n MIV siek gemeenskap aan te spreek. Die rol van die plaaslike kerk en netwerkingsaktiwiteite is onontbeerlik vir die realisering van die visie van ʼn Zambië sonder MIV. Die 'Kringe van Hoop'-program van die Zambiese Raad van Kerke is 'n bedieningstrategie wat die MIV pandemie wil aanspreek en wat die kerk in Zambië uitdaag om mee te doen.

Thesis (DTh (Practical Theology and Missiology))--Stellenbosch University, 2008.

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