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Journeys of Faith. Churchbased responses to HIV and AIDS in three southern African countries (Book Review)

Summer 2003

From triple helix - Summer 2003 - Journeys of Faith. Churchbased responses to HIV and AIDS in three southern African countries (Book Review) [pp20-21]

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Journeys of Faith. Churchbased responses to HIV and AIDS in three southern African countries - Gideon Byamugisha, Lucy Steinitz, Glen Williams and Phumzile Zondi - Strategies for Hope No 16, 2002 - £4.50 Pb 109pp - ISBN 0 95430 600 7 - Available from TALC, PO Box 49, St Albans, Herts AL1 5TX, UK. Fax: (+44) 1727846852 Email: Website:

Many organisations and individuals in Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and UNAIDS assisted the authors in writing this well presented and illustrated book. While defining 'faith based' as having 'a religious affiliation', the book focuses on the Christian tradition. The introduction states that growing numbers of secular leaders have come to appreciate the unique potential that churches and other faith based organisations have for preventing the spread of HIV. It continues, 'Yet Christians have lacked sufficient urgency' the main reason being 'the association in the collective mind... of HIV/AIDS with immoral sexual behaviour.' This has led to 'judgmental attitudes' reinforcing denial and secrecy on the part of people who believe themselves to be HIV positive.

Christians might accept this apology in a book that is largely practical. It describes how churches have pioneered care of those infected with and affected by the disease. It contains inspired ideas such as encouraging an infected mother to keep a memory box of photos, possessions, a book of memories and other documents that she can leave to her children. There are testimonies of how HIV positive individuals have responded by coming to faith in Christ and intensifying the quality of their care for others.

But not all practical ideas are harmless. There is considerable promotion of condom use, particularly in Roman Catholic projects. While there may be a place for their use by some married couples there is no clear warning of the many harmful knock-on effects of promoting promiscuity, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Much promotion of condom use elsewhere is based on secular humanist teaching that is opposed to biblical teaching and the Christian's good news.

I would only place this book in a library after warning potential, unsuspecting Christian readers of its hidden dangers that emanate mainly from the West. I would at the same time recommend its many excellent ideas and commend the readers to join in communal repentance for our sins of omission and commission that are contributing to this terrible pandemic.

Reviewed by
David Clegg

Retired Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and formerly CMF Overseas Support Secretary

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  • Journeys of Faith. Churchbased responses to HIV and AIDS in three southern African countries (Book Review)
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