Mark Behle – LesothoIf one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (I Corinthians 12:26)
The HIV/AIDS epidemic has ravaged the populations of southern Africa. The mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, totally surrounded by South Africa, has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world with current figures suggesting that as many as one out of three adults are infected.
The stigma of being HIV-positive or sick with AIDS makes it difficult for people to come forward for treatment. Despite the problems faced by the country due to this disease there are signs of hope. At a church service of the Lesotho Evangelical Church at Masitise a number of people publicly revealed their HIV-positive status. A local government official in attendance that day referred to these people as heroes. The government of Lesotho is strongly encouraging all people to be tested so they can know their status.
The pastor of Masitise LEC, Rev. Malikopo Mohlatsane, mentioned that in the church we are members of one body and the church needs to be in the forefront of providing loving care and concern for the victims of HIV/AIDS and their families. For far too long the church has been part of the problem by not welcoming and caring for those infected and affected by the disease. Unless the church changes its attitude towards HIV/AIDS, the church will remain in denial and outside the reach of those who need God’s love the most.
Mark Behle is a missionary with the Lesotho Evangelical Church. He is a Mathematics teacher at Masitise High School, Lesotho.