Why I Offer Clean Needles in Jesus' Name
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.