“We always say a pastor has the heart of a father, but sometimes I wonder how hard it is to have a heart of a father for every child. Are you concerned about the status of your sheep? Do you know about the things that are happening?” asked Nazareth Bonilla (Spain), at the ‘Channels of Hope’ event onboard Logos Hope in Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana.
The purpose of the event was to raise pastors' awareness of HIV and AIDS, and to encourage them to have a compassionate view of people who are living with the disease. Thirty pastors and church workers from the Sekondi-Takoradi region attended the six-hour conference.
Members of the ship’s Help Ministries team, who facilitated the event, have gone through rigorous training with a South African-based organisation, AIDSLink International. Leading ‘Channels of Hope’ workshops in countries the ship visits, they share what they have learned about the needs of people living with HIV, how the virus can be transmitted and treated, and what a Christian response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic should look like.
Nazareth explained to the audience that it is not always helpful to ask someone how they became HIV positive. “We usually just assume that the person deserves it because of something they have done. What if someone has become HIV positive because of a blood transfusion, or they were born that way because it was transferred from their mother?” she suggested.
The Help Ministries team encouraged the pastors to adopt a perspective which looks past what has happened and helps people focus on the future. The audience was challenged to set aside their own judgements and work towards becoming leaders whom others would want to run to, after receiving a devastating diagnosis.
“I think the training was really impactful for the pastors,” said Nazareth. “After the program ended, they were exchanging contact information, saying that they need to keep in touch and start working together to implement what they have learned.”