An ordained minister in the Church of Uganda, Canon Gideon Byamugisha discovered in the early nineties that he was HIV positive after his wife suddenly died of an AIDS related illness. Coping with grief and shock, he found a calling to challenge the church and society in its response to AIDS and to offer support to those with HIV. After becoming the first African clergyman to come out openly as HIV positive in the mid nineties, Byamugisha found himself in demand across Africa and the world.
He now works for World Vision and seeks to bring a message to the church that it needs to respond positively to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This video, produced by the Strategies for Hope Trust and the Friends of Canon Gideon Foundation is an attempt to get that message across to a wider audience. As an introduction to the man and the issues, it is a good resource that could be used in most churches.
Gideon comes over as a genuine, godly man seeking to challenge stigma, get over a clear message about prevention, and to encourage a compassionate response from Christians. But it is no more than an introduction – skimming over prevention issues, not even looking at the access to treatment issue, or at how the western church has largely blanked the issue of AIDS. Gideon is seen talking to audiences in Africa, but not to western congregations (although he has spoken to British churches). The African churches have dealt with HIV far more than those here in the UK, and with good reason – they have had no choice!
The video is perhaps strongest in tackling the issue of stigma, and at showing a compassionate response to HIV positive people within the local church. As a resource this is a good video to use with church youth groups, a home group or any small meeting. It is broken down into fourteen bite sized chapters, and a study guide is available. But it is no more than a starter, and Gideon is not the strongest of communicators. His message about 'ABC plus' prevention is sound, but not clearly expressed and could easily confuse those not familiar with the issue.
Worth getting hold of if you want to get people thinking about the issues, but there are more useful resources out there if people want to go deeper.
For example, The Truth About AIDS by Patrick Dixon, available from ACET International at www.acet-international.org (free for use in developing nations).