Here is a story from one of our Mission Partners in Malawi. The ministry is called Partner’s in Hope. It is a Hospital in the capital city of Malawi that does regular care, but also has an excellent and free HIV/AIDS health clinic.
“You know, I am HIV positive too,” said Luka. He had been the translator for a meeting I had with a married couple living with AIDS. Just after they left the room, it became clear that he would like to share his story with me as well. “Great!” I said, pulling out some blank paper, ready to scribble my notes as I listened. This young husband and father of three children began to share openly and with more eagerness than one would expect coming from someone with a ‘terminal diagnosis’.
For Luka, he doesn’t look at his AIDS with the descriptive word, ‘terminal’. For him, it’s about living well, and encouraging others to do the same. This includes finding out what one’s HIV status is, long before sickness would drive a person to a clinic. That is what he did himself, primarily because he was well aware of the AIDS pandemic affecting the lives of countless Malawians, and also because he thought that catching it early would be a wise thing for the sake of his health.
His good health, enthusiasm, and concern for others have driven him to speak openly about living with HIV. He said, “It’s my wish to visit many people, to tell them about HIV, for their physical and spiritual life. If you have Christ, then you are okay.” He took a three-week counseling course through the government hospital, and received a certificate from the Ministry of Health as an “HTC Counselor” (HIV Testing and Counseling). On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, when he’s finished his responsibilities as a cleaner, he makes himself available to speak with youth at the Tikambe Youth Center and adults in the Tiyanjane Counseling Center, both at the Partners in Hope Medical Center (PIH). He encourages HIV positive people that they can live well, and tells HIV negative people to live carefully.
One teenage boy came for a test, feeling nervous and scared. Luka encouraged him by having him guess his (Luka’s) status. He was shocked to learn that he was positive, because he expected someone with HIV to have a sickly look; Luka looked healthy! This gave the boy courage to go ahead with the test. Luka comforted him when he learned that the results were positive, and then helped him to get registered as a patient in the Moyo Clinic at PIH. Time has passed and he has been on AIDS treatment for a while now. Luka saw him recently, and the boy said, “My heart is stable because of your counseling.” He said that he tells his friends to learn their status as well.
Luka enjoys working at the Partners in Hope Medical Center. It’s more than just a job for him. As he arrives to work each morning, helping to unlock the doors of each room, he says a prayer for the people who would receive care that day. He says, “I know that everything is possible with God. When patients leave after their appointments at PIH, they go and tell others that they have God in that clinic.” As the messages of hope are passed along from one person to the next, another heart is strengthened, and another life saved.