Somewhere in the Bronx, a 45-year-old woman with HIV nourishes a dream. Andrena Ingram, who has been HIV positive for seven years, aspires to be a teaching pastor at her Lutheran church. Her passion is simple: "I want to share the promise of God's glory."

Richard Baucom lives about 800 miles west of the Bronx, on bustling Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago. A 36-year-old financial director at a large company, Baucom is one of countless big-city executives climbing the corporate ladder.

Baucom has reaped the benefits of his hard work. He lives in a posh apartment, drives an expensive BMW, and vacations at an Arizona resort.

Richard Baucom and Andrena Ingram come from vastly different worlds, but last August at a camp in rural New York, they both experienced the love of God.

Closer to Jesus

Both attended Birch Family Camp, nestled near the Hudson River in Putnam Valley. Located 90 minutes north of Manhattan, Birch has become a refuge for people whose lives have been turned upside down by HIV—and those who feel called to reach out to them. For one week out of the year, families coping with HIV or AIDS head to the camp for rest and fellowship.

Almost 200 people, mostly mothers with their children, attend Birch for free each summer. The fresh air and open, grassy fields are a welcome respite from the confines of their inner-city addresses. The parents, experiencing a loving community, are able to share their stories with other adults without fear. Their children, constrained at home by neighborhood violence, medical inhibitions, or the fear of being exposed, learn how to play for the first time. Ingram's 7-year-old son, Brezlon, is among them.

Like many women at the camp, Ingram spends some of her time at Birch quietly reflecting ...

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Christianity Today
Lessons From Two Sides of AIDS
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October 23, 2000

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