This man On a recent trip to Africa, I met a man. A man named “John” who is living positively with HIV and even AIDS.

  • A man who watched his wife of 35 years die of AIDS-related causes.
  • A man who has nine children, all born again.
  • A man who has known his status for four years but hasn’t been deterred.
  • A man who boldly stood in front of my camera when I wanted to respect his privacy but still get a photo of his humble and dilapidated dwelling.

This man with a gaunt face but beautiful eyes shook my hand strongly and with great confidence.

He shared with me his story, one that brought him from finding out his status to living and breathing today as a positive, incredibly inspiring story of someone who has decided to live his life with thanks, not fear.

When I asked John what he wanted others to know about HIV or being HIV positive, he said that everyone should be tested and that AIDS is still a killer disease. He said that if you test positive, you should not fear, for fear will only exacerbate the illness.

John is being helped by Compassion in many ways: by support of his multiple income-generating projects, which include selling used clothing and small foods as well as ironing others’ garments.

He is given other support as needed based on the child development center’s close communication with him. He seems to be a proud man, not ashamed of his circumstances, and very grateful for what the Church and Compassion are doing to help him.

Though we all come from different backgrounds and bring a wide spectrum of abilities to our work, we all comprise a body of Christ helping a man named John. A man that most of us will never meet but who many of us will be impacted by as we gain energy from his story.

John has two children in Compassion’s programs. Two boys who are benefiting both directly through our programs and indirectly because their father is getting much needed support through the AIDS Initiative.

How could these two boys succeed with an ailing father who doesn’t get the help that he needs? We are helping this man to live so that his sons may focus on their education and future pursuits. A win-win if you ask me.

So please be encouraged that the AIDS Initiative you work to support in a multitude of ways is working quite well and being carried out in the most unique ways with some of God’s most cherished children, those living with HIV and AIDS. Your support allows the AIDS Initiative to be integrated into our programs in Africa.

Thank you for having the patience that I find myself lacking at times; the lack of patience that is embarrassing to admit when standing face to face with those who are HIV positive and have more than I will ever have.

I felt terribly honored to be in that small stuffy room with John, learning about his faith and his life. I felt that I was truly standing on sacred ground.

  • 12 Comments
  • Print This Post Print This Post
  • Add a Comment

12 Comments Add a Comment
  1. Mar 31, 2009
    at 10:14 pm

    So many just like John out there — I’m glad Compassion is doing so much to help these precious ones.

  2. Apr 1, 2009
    at 3:46 am

    “…someone who has decided to live his life with thanks, not fear.”

    There are many times I have feared or still fear things in my life. None of those things compare to the reality of AIDS. A great reminder to always count our blessings!

  3. Apr 1, 2009
    at 6:01 am

    What an amazing story. It is very exciting to be a part of this growing Compassion ministry.

  4. Barbara M.
    Apr 1, 2009
    at 10:10 am

    One of my new children recently wrote to thank me for sponsoring him saying now he could attend school and have “treatment”. I wondered if he was relating to HIV/AIDS but his health is stated as “good health” He does live in an HIV/AIDS area. I don’t want to ask because I know it is a delicate question. Any ideas? I am so blessed to be able to sponsor him and I so enjoyed this story.

  5. Heather
    Apr 1, 2009
    at 3:39 pm

    What a great story! I can honestly say that this man is true everyday hero..He’s in such a sad situation but is somehow making the best of it! Most Christian people would be in a lot worse mental shape than this man is in.
    Thank you Jesus for this man!

  6. Timothy
    Jun 18, 2009
    at 10:33 am

    Funny how y’all neglected to mention how “John” or his wife contracted HIV!? How nieve do you think we are???

  7. Timothy
    Jun 18, 2009
    at 10:35 am

    There is a reason why HIV is so rampant in this part of the world: SIN!

  8. Ken M.
    Jun 18, 2009
    at 6:39 pm

    For me, the main point isn’t how John contracted AIDS, but how he turned his life around with God’s help. I am glad that God is using Compassion to help John with the process of getting closer to him. It’s a miracle that God loves us so much until he takes our sinful lives and has good come out of it.

  9. Becky
    Jun 20, 2009
    at 9:14 pm

    I don’t know where in Africa they are from, but with rape being exceedingly common in Africa (msnbc.com had an article about South Africa and rape today from a survey), how are we to know if John has HIV because his wife was raped? We don’t know and I don’t think I would feel more or less sympathy for this gentleman if that was the case or if it was an act of his or his wife’s own doing. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I think it is remarkable that John is willing to keep living his life, not hide in fear, and give up. So many Christians, myself included, sometimes feel so much guilt it is paralyzing and doesn’t help us to glorify God with our lives. Clearly, even if John did contract AIDS as a result of him sinning, he is able to still glorify God with his life and keep living for Him.

  10. Ken M.
    Jun 21, 2009
    at 5:32 am

    @Becky – I like your reply, Becky. I feel the same way. My disappoints in life have been minor compared to John’s and I let them paralyze me and would find it hard to glorify God. John is an inspiration.

  11. Barbara M.
    Jun 21, 2009
    at 8:36 am

    I totally agree with Becky’s comment above. We have no idea how each case of AIDS is contracted. John is doing the best that he can and living now to glorify God.

  12. kristi
    Feb 21, 2010
    at 9:12 pm

    Do not judge, lest you be judged. Love is the answer and YES this man is hero. God bless him.

© 2008-2014 Compassion International. All Rights Reserved.
ECFA Charity Navigator BBB