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Update from the KZN HIV and AIDS Desk

Written by Scott Couper & Susan Valiquette
March 28, 2007

Scott & Susan Couper Valiquette - South Africa

The SMSs are flooding into Ms. Nomvula Shale's phone.  The e-mail box in the Region's computer is filling-up.  Rev. Scott Couper is barely able to keep-up with the increased administrative duties.  Much of the twelve month budget has already been spent, and it is only March!  Fortunately, there is faith and confidence that income will throughout the year exceed expenditure.  The modes of communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ are increasing exponentially.

{mosimage}Nomvula, plz.  I hear you talk on Sunday.  I need your help.  Ive been having HIV symptoms lately.  My b-friend is pos.  Where can I get tested.

Thnk u 4 advices.  Can I call u when I need to talk?  I am confused after knowing my status.

Nomvula, I am in hospital.  Can u come and pray 4 me.

Thank you so much for referring me to McCord Hospital.  Ive done my CD4.

Your show is so educative.  U R a blessing to our country.[1]

{mosimage}Shale's cell phone is forever ringing, sometimes to the annoyance of Couper; another person needing advice, counseling, a word of assurance after leaving the doctor's office.  Shale's voice is on the radio, hosting a weekly talk show on HIV and AIDS that is sponsored by the HIV and AIDS Desk.  A counseling CD is rapidly being duplicated to keep-up with sales.  Weekly visits are being made to local churches, meeting the people where they are - in worship.  The HIV and AIDS banner hangs proudly while many cry and line-up from one end of the church to the other to place a ribbon in memory of a loved one.  The Desk this year has been transformed from a bank and bureaucracy into an actual ministry!

Shale's is the new Convener of the KZN HIV and AIDS Desk and she has begun her appointment with a "bang."  Couper, her P.A., is mentoring her into the position while

{mosimage}facilitating the implementation of her new ideas.  Many lessons are being learned.  First, HIV is the single most urgent, pressing, dire, extreme, and relevant issue to the Christian church in southern Africa today.  Any region's resources should be thrown into ministering to those who have the disease already or will acquire it soon without the intervention of the church.  Second, lay leaders can often minister far more effectively than ordained ministers because they are not contaminated by an aura of authority and, in the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, "pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities."  Third, the flock responds to an authentic voice whose caring words are backed by conscientious actions.  The flock prefers it when the church genuinely responds to their needs rather than holds innumerable workshops held only to complete reports that are included in innumerable minutes.  The itinerant road show is always accompanied by concrete offers of assistance to local church ministries.  Eastwood United, kwaMashu, Groutville, Noodsberg, and many other local churches have received the assistance of the wider church through the KZN HIV and AIDS Desk.  Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, "sweat equity" comes before funding.  Funding for ministry is, more often than not, a result of good work first being done consistently rather than a precursor to benevolent intentions desired.  And the people responded, "Amen!"

Revs. Scott Couper and Susan Valiquette

Scott Couper and Susan Valiquette are missionaries serving in South Africa.  Scott serves with the UCCSA as pastor at a UCCSA congregation in Durban.  Susan serves with the Inanda Seminary in KwaZuluNatal, South Africa as chaplain.


[1] To honor confidentiality, the above fictitious SMS messages are amalgamations of actual SMSs sent. Make a gift for this Mission placement

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