I don’t know how to adequately express this but I’m going to try. On Tuesday Sarah leads a support group in one of the townships here called Ocean View. She leads with a lady named Hilary. She is also going to share more about it, so I won’t continue with too many details other than that basically all the people in the group are HIV positive. Some with just HIV and some with full-blown AIDS. Some have been diagnosed just 9 months, some as long as 13 years. Oh, yeah, I wasn’t going to rehash details. Moving on.
So, this week I went to pick Sarah up and I waited for her there in the clinic. When she finished she invited me back to meet her group. I met them, played with their kids, waited a few minutes, and then we left.
Afterwards, though, I realized something. In those brief moments I blew out of the water my previous experience, interaction, and encounter with people suffering with HIV and AIDS. Honestly, I don’t know that I’ve EVER known or been in contact with anybody with HIV. And in that moment I met at least a half dozen people. So, that was really remarkable.
But as I thought about it longer I realized that I never shied away from these people or their kids. I never even thought of their struggles, issues, or diseases. I’ve just gotten so used to the idea that my job here is just to unconditionally love people that I never hesitated to touch them, talk to them, have their kids climb all over me, etc. I never considered any of it. But it wasn’t because of me or about me.
It reminds me of Sarah’s series of sermons right before we left for South Africa (if you aren’t from Grace you need to email them and ask for copies b/c they were amazing). She kept talking about us “coming close” to the poor. She challenged us to love with “actions and truth” not just with “words”. And she pushed us to close the “charity gap” and really engage people. I realized that I’ve done that now. I’ve always talked a great talk about missions, poverty, and caring for people, but I don’t know that I totally got it. I feel like I moved a step closer this week when I just came close to these people without ever considering their problems. That’s my hope for you, too, that you’ll join us on this journey as we continue to figure out what it means to “COME CLOSE.”
Love and Miss you,