Nomvula Shale continues to fulfill the desperate need for many people, drowning in silence, to hear the truth. As Convener of the Desk, Shale travels from church to church defying taboos so as to provide words of comfort and assurance to those who harbour a fear that paralyzes.
Nomvula has three cell phones, and often two or three can be found ringing simultaneously. Yesterday she was at Highway Hospice; tomorrow she will be at King Edward Hospital. Today, she counseled two in the parking lot who were too scared to come into the regional office. Nomvula herself is HIV positive. What for many would be the harbinger of hopelessness is for Nomvula the key that enables her to communicate and be trusted by all who come to her. Why is Nomvula HIV positive? The Scriptures tell us, "So the glory of God might be revealed through her!" Nomvula hosts a talk radio show. Nomvula is writing weekly in the newspaper. She communicates her message for the church, for the government, for the schools. The need is for silence to be broken. She shatters it. The need is for so many to be pointed in a direction. Nomvula lives that direction by example. Nomvula does all the church has neglected to do and is all that God wills the church to be.
After the need to tell the truth is told, practical assistance needs providing. The HIV and AIDS Desk enables local churches to strengthen their own outreach to their communities. In 2007, we provided grants to purchase life saving medications for our members on anti-retro viral medications during a health sector strike. With the help of First Congregational Church, Winter Park, Florida, the Desk produced a music CD to assist a ministry in Pietermaritzburg raise funds for its home-based care project. The Desk linked Cebelihle Children's Home with a church in Scotland so a home and crèche can be built in 2008. The Desk works with German donors who build new accommodation for Siyabathanda ("We are loving them") ministry in Noodsberg. The Desk wrote the 2007 World AIDS Day liturgy, used by churches throughout the region, on behalf of the Diakonia Council of Churches. Groceries are purchased. Clothes donated. School fees are paid. Christmas presents donated by the Bethel and Berea Congregational churches (UCCSA) were distributed. The Global Ministries' truck hauls this tumble dryer here and that washing machine there. A hospice in Groutville is able to purchase fans, beds, and heaters for each patient residing at Groutville's palliative care centre.
The need is for the Desk to support the dozens of efforts small local churches are making in their areas to, in the name of Jesus Christ, fight this Goliath that is the AIDS pandemic.
Rev. Scott Couper
The kwaZulu Natal HIV and AIDS Desk