As Darryl Humphrey stares into a sea of faces, a lump comes to his throat. Seven hundred people die of aids daily in Kenya. How many in this crowd will die tomorrow?
Then Humphrey tells of how Christ helps him control his sexual urges and remain faithful to his wife.
In the background, Joshua Ng'elu nods in agreement. The public sector manager of Kenya's National AIDS Control Council thinks such testimonies may save thousands of lives.
"These people are black, just [as] we are," Ng'elu says of 65 African American Christians—all but four of them men— visiting Kenya in late January to promote prevention programs. "Normally, the people who speak of abstinence are white. But when you have someone coming in who is the same color and telling you the same thing, it makes you stop and think."
Shalom Outreach is a Dale City, Virginia-based short-term missions agency that works with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. It has been sending African American Christians to the continent since 1996.
Many Kenyan men have multiple sexual partners. They are the main source of spreading the deadly virus that causes AIDS, which is devastating many Kenyan families. More than 730,000 Kenyan children have lost at least one parent to AIDS. Fourteen percent of the population of 30 million is HIV-positive.
"We came here to show our African brothers that their brothers in the United States care for them," Humphrey says. "We want the Kenyan men to see that there is a way to survive this pandemic through Jesus Christ."
The team dispersed to six locations throughout the country. The group distributed thousands of bottles of Tylenol to local hospitals, visited secondary schools, and led open-air meetings. More than 3,500 people attended an open-air meeting in Kisumu, while in Nairobi 1,200 men participated in a special prayer session for their nation.
Julian Dangerfield, director of Shalom Outreach, thinks African American Christians are an often neglected resource for fighting the pandemic.
"The greatest thing we, as African Americans, can bring back to Africa is the gospel. There are African American churches in the United States that are 150 years old and have no missionaries," Dangerfield says. "It's time to wake the sleeping giant and start fulfilling the Great Commission. African Americans can be the Davids who slay the Goliath known as AIDS."
Copyright © 2002 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
For more Christianity Today articles on Kenya, see our World Report.
Previous Christianity Today articles on AIDS in Africa include:
Mercy ImpairedLet's shock the world by reversing our apathy toward African sufferers. (September 27, 2001)
Kenyan President Suggests Hanging for 'Knowingly' Infecting Others with AIDSChurch organizations criticize use of capital punishment as solution to epidemic. (July 19, 2001)
Dying AloneBaptist women seek out and care for ashamed, abandoned AIDS patients. (June 15, 2001)
Few to Receive Generic AIDS MedicinesPharmaceutical companies drop suit against South Africa, but problems remain. (May 18, 2001)
Zambia's Churches Win Fight Against Anti-AIDS AdsChurch leaders are concerned that condom promotion encourages promiscuity. (Jan. 12, 2001)
Mandela, De Klerk, and Tutu Join to Fight AIDSSouth Africa's men of peace call for end of silence and stigmatization. (Dec. 14, 2000)
Speaking with Action Against AIDSA report from the Thirteenth International AIDS Conference. (July 19, 2000)
'Have We Become Too Busy With Death?'As 4,900 people die each day from AIDS, African Christians are faced with the question. (Feb. 4, 2000)
'Sexual Revolution' Speeds Spread of HIV Among AfricansAn interview with World Relief's Debbie Dortzbach. (Feb. 4, 2000)
Books & Culture Corner: An Open Letter to the U. S. Black Religious, Intellectual, and Political Leadership Regarding AIDS and the Sexual Holocaust in Africa (Jan. 24, 2000)
Africa: Fidelity Urged to Fight AIDS (July 12, 1999)
Global Death Rates May Skyrocket (May 24, 1999)
I Am the Father of an AIDS Orphan (Nov. 17, 1997)
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