Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Theological Challenges: Proclaiming the Fullness of Life in the HIV/AIDS & Global Economic Era

Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Theological Challenges: Proclaiming the Fullness of Life in the HIV/AIDS & Global Economic Era

Article excerpt

Since the first clinical evidence of AIDS was reported two decades ago, HIV/AIDS has spread to every corner of the world. Still rapidly growing, the epidemic is reversing development gains, robbing millions of their lives, widening the gap between the rich and poor, and undermining social and economic security. (1)

Mission is carrying out God's work among people who are struggling to live with dignity and wholeness...Mission is to proclaim the good news that God affirms life over death, and that God acts among the poor, the majority of whom are women, who are victimized in the globalization of the market economy and left out in decision making processes. Mission is forming partnership...to struggle for life and work for justice for all people." (2)

Traditionally, Jesus' own mission (Luke 4:18-19) and its mandate have been understood primarily in terms of proclaiming the word. What would be the further implications of seeing this mission also as that of spreading fire upon the earth? (3)

Introduction: Mission in the HIV/AIDS & globalization era

According to Michael Amalados (4), "Mission is prophecy that challenges people to conversion and transformation so that God's kingdom may come." He holds that "The goal of mission...is the promotion of the kingdom of God," and that "Our Mission is the mission of Jesus." If Christian believers agree with this last statement of Amalados, the question then is: "Does the mission of Jesus offer the church a model of a people-centred mission in the HIV/AIDS and globalization era?" This, of course, raises other questions such as: "Is the HIV/AIDS and global economic era a people-centred era?" "Is it life affirming and human-friendly?" On these questions, I believe there is little room for debate, for research and documentation indicates that HIV/AIDS negates life and brings suffering to individuals, families, communities and countries (5). Its incurability and its link to sexual transmission breeds fear among the infected and the affected, and this leads to social stigma, which is the isolation and discrimination of the infected and their families. HIV/AIDS produces poverty, as the sick cannot work, relatives have to stay home and nurse the sick, and more money is needed for endless medical services. AIDS kills millions. AIDS leaves behind many powerless and poor widows and orphans, who are often at the mercy of property grabbing relatives. It attacks the poor and the powerless, and those who have no economic power to say no to sex or to negotiate for safer sex. Its link with sexuality has caused silence, shame and denial in the church and society in general.

Globalization, on the other hand, is noted for profiting a few individuals, while its policies and impact exclude and exploit the majority (6,7), Globalization is graphically described by the Ecumenical Association of Third-World Theologians' (EATWOT) Asian Theological Conference, as an age in which:

Money with a capital 'M' was promoted as the storehouse of value, rather than a medium for exchange...Every relationship in which people were involved and stayed outside the purview of the markets, such as education, health care and religious practices, were also brought into the reality of market. Market now has control over the social, economic, political and cultural relationships of the people. All other social forces, including the state, which regulated peoples needs, have ceased to operate therefore, people are turned into labour or prostitutes, nature as land or raw materials or golf parks and culture as souvenirs...in tourist market. Moreover, the organizing philosophy of the market ecclesia...is social exclusion: Those who have no commoditable money or commoditable commodities (including skills) were excluded from the market and left as expendables. (8)

Clearly, both globalization and HIV/AIDS are forces which are largely anti-social and anti-life. In fact, globalization as an anti-social force worsens poverty, escalates mobility, the trafficking of women and girls, and sex work, (9) thereby creating fertile grounds for the spread of HIV/AIDS. …

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