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Why I Offer Clean Needles in Jesus' Name

Why I Offer Clean Needles in Jesus' Name

On the front lines of HIV prevention in one of America's holiest cities.

And aren't redemptive endeavors the ones Christians celebrate the most?

This is unconventional and challenging work, to be sure. Daily, however, I can celebrate what God is doing in my city under the radar. There are hands and feet of Jesus driving the mobile clinic to hard-core neighborhoods where the message of HIV prevention is needed the most. There are dedicated Christians spending time in the gay bars hearing heartbreaking stories of youth who were kicked out of their homes and churches when they came out. There are lovely men and women sharing their own stories about living with HIV and how it is not a death sentence any more, but rather an opportunity to live a different kind of life, one more in tune with the reality that life is fragile and needs to be handled with care.

I attended a Christmas party at the needle exchange last year and sat chatting with a woman at a corner table. I introduced myself in an effort to gently uncover whether she was a volunteer or a client. She said she knew who I was; she attends my church and had heard me speak about HIV a few years prior and her heart had been moved to get involved. She had been volunteering for the Red Project ever since. Salt and light. Love without argument. Reflecting the kingdom on earth one conversation and one beautiful act at a time.

Ruth Bell Olsson is a writer, teacher, and AIDS activist in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Comments Are Closed

Displaying 1–2 of 2 comments

Belle Unruh

January 22, 2013  10:31pm

You are doing a wonderful work. God bless.

Kamilla Ludwig

January 19, 2013  2:52pm

Absolutely SUPER illustration of Christ's response to the woman caught in adultery! I know most of our translations have that awful, judgmental misrepresentation that runs something like, "Go and sin no more". But I can tell Olsson and the wise folk in Carol Stream know that the original reads: "Sweetie, I understand you are in a bad place and only ready to take teensy little baby steps so, here, take this condom. And the next time you feel like getting horizontal, you can ask him to slip this on and at least you can be a little less worried about the consequences."

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