What if? Christians and the AIDS Epidemic

 

The AIDS Epidemic

A gay rainbow flag flying on a building in front of an American flag.When the AIDS crisis hit in the 1980s, what would have happened if the Christians had responded differently?

What if we’d flooded out of our churches to help those afflicted by this terrible disease?

What if we’d:

  • Brought these people meals?
  • Done their laundry?
  • Visited them in the hospital?
  • Watched movies together?
  • Driven them to doctor’s appointments?
  • Taken care of their pets when they were too sick to get out of bed?
  • Brightened their days with cheerfulness and laughter?
  • Swapped stories over a cup of coffee?
  • Cried and prayed with them when they were grieving or in pain?
  • Poured out comfort and sympathy when fear tore at their hearts?

What would have happened if the gays inflicted with this horrible life-destroying HIV virus had discovered Jesus loved them, because of our presence, our actions and our words?

Because He does.

Jesus loves all sinners and I’m glad—because I’m one of them. Sinners are the only type of humans walking the earth.

A "stop AIDS" sign in the form of a stop sign.

A Neglected Harvest

What would have happened if we’d loved the gays, who were sick in our midst? What if we had blessed these people during the greatest health crisis of their lives? How many would have responded afterwards when we shared the gospel, inviting each man or woman into God’s kingdom of light?

We’ll never know.

Our Unspoken Words

There’s a Christian saying;

“Your life is the only bible some people will ever read.”

So what did we say to the gay and lesbian community by our silence, our indifference or our harsh, condemning sound-bites?

My answer? Nothing good and nothing Christ-like.

My Own Story

These questions bother me because I failed back then too.

A gay family in silhouette; two men holding hands with two small children.Back in the late 1990s I felt the Holy Spirit tug on my heart to help people who were sick with AIDS. I felt an urge to get involved. Even though I had no nursing experience, there were still things I could have done. 

Instead, I passively waited for God to lead me to an open door. My great failure? I didn’t “rattle any doorknobs.” If I had, I believe a door into this type of ministry would have opened.

Ill equipped as I was, I could have done something to help—but I didn’t. And my inactivity looks outwardly a lot like indifference or even hostility.

If AIDS had been a disease in biblical times, Jesus would have responded to its sufferers very differently.

Today, this virus isn’t the scourge in America that it once was. I have two friends who are HIV positive. Both men were infected several years ago.  Thanks to a “drug cocktail,” both lead relatively normal lives.

One Last Question

What would our nation look like today, if we’d responded at the start of the AIDS crisis with Christian compassion and mercy?

A Challenge to my Fellow Believers

A gay pride parade, with a barge floating down a river in the Netherlands.Years ago, I went to hear a Christian speaker named Sy Rogers talk about leaving a life of homosexuality. By the end of his message, I understood something vital. Despite acting outrageously sometimes—mostly to shock us—these people were just like me. Because everything in Sy’s testimony helped me identify with his story.

Did I experience rejection too? Check. Feel outcast, isolated and alone? Check. Deal with crippling emotional wounds? Check. Yearn to be romantically special to someone? Check, check and check!

From the scriptures, I know this truth about God’s heart toward all of us;

The Lord isn’t slow about keeping his promises, as some people think he is. In fact, God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost. 2 Peter 3:9 (CEV-Contemporary English Version)

We pray against these people’s agenda all the time, but we don’t pray for them. So would you join me in praying often for a great harvest from the LGBT community? And if you personally know anyone in the lifestyle, pray for them by name.

I want them to know the same healing, life-changing Savior that I do.

All images come from Pixabay.com.

 

 

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