I realize that I am a bit slow in getting this post written, considering World AIDS Day was Friday, December 1st. I was blessed to be a part of planning, what I thought turned out to be a beautiful day. A colleague, and friend, felt convicted that we as an institution need to acknowledge this event. She worked hard to be sure that everything came together.
We received 200 pictures of children from around the world who have been affected by the disease. They could have lost family or neighbors. We attached these pictures on stakes and placed them around campus, under trees wrapped with red ribbons. We also posted HIV/AIDS facts on the trees.
Our chapel program was phenomenal, if I do say so myself. We commissioned one of our amazing drama students to write three monologues to be performed in chapel. She wrote powerful testimonies, one was a sister of man who died, one was a mother and wife who discovered that she and her baby were positive, and a young woman who discovered that she, too, was positive and dealing with the abandonment by her family. I was blown away by the performances of the three talented actors who played these women. We interlaced the monologues with a slideshow of people who are living with AIDS and those who have passed on. My friend, C, gave a little information about each person's story in the slide (name, age, diagnosed in ..., lost spouse in...etc.). We carefully orchestrated music and read two excerpts from two stories. To end the program and lace all of the pieces together, one of our professors stood up in silence for as long as he could keep the attention of the students. He quoted UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, saying about the AIDS crisis "silence is death". As Christians, we cannot remain silent. As humans, we cannot remain silent.
This day challenged me and I pray it challenged our students. We are responsible for those around us. We are called to love those around us and show compassion for them. We are not called to judge or decide who is worth of our attention. I think if Jesus were on earth today, he would be in the AIDS hospices and in villages ravaged by this non-discriminating disease. He would be loving them and telling them that his Father loves them. I hope I can do the same.
I am challenged to find my voice to fight for those who need attention. I don't know what this looks like in my life but I feel called to not remain silent.
Silence Is Death.