Webster defines paradigm as: A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.
I think that paradigms are difficult to change, mostly because we don’t realize that we have them. I think that the way I view reality IS reality, and it never occurs to me that reality might be different. In fact, perhaps our paradigm can only change when we are shocked and rocked out of our reality by some kind of outside force.
"In the English language there are orphans and widows, but there is no word for the parent who loses a child", Jodi Picoult (My Sister's Keeper). Of course, there are thousands of these around the world, but in Africa in particular there are so many gogo's (grandmothers) and grandfathers, magas and babas who have lost their children to HIV/AIDS and now are in charge of caring for the children of these lost loved ones. Sometimes we think that this is yet another problem that is just to big to make a dent in, that there is nothing we can do that would help..... but we are wrong if we think this, because even to be a friend to one of these left behind ban lighten their load.
Today is World AIDS Day. HOW each of us participates in this event is personal. THAT we participate should be a given. Here are a few participation suggestions:
Buy something from Product RED and help provide ARV's to Africans suffering from AIDS. A quick trip to Starbucks will work, or find other RED partners here.
Dedicate some time to pray specifically about this pandemic.
Read passages about Jesus’ encounters with the sick. Try these: Matt 8:5-13, 9: 25-34, Mk 1:29-34, 5: 21-43, Lk 13:19-17.
Meditate on Jesus’ instructions to us, His followers, in Matt 25 about we are to respond to the sick, hungry, thirsty and in great need.
Set aside some time to search the web and look for reading that will help you understand more about AIDS. You can find two great articles by our partner, Dr. Arnau Van Wyngaard: here and here.
Download these great free resources from World Vision, the WCA and Fuller Seminary: here.
Have some intentional conversations. In the lunch room or around the dinner table, ask some questions and see where the discussion goes. Here are some discussion starters: "Why does God allow an incurable disease to ravage innocent people," "Why should we become involved when often the African governments are corrupt and uninvolved," "What kind of 'help' is most likely to make a real difference."
The main benefit of World Aids Day is that millions of people around the world will pause, think and pray about what we can do to make a difference in this pandemic. I believe that those of us who approach today asking questions, desiring a different world and willing to be part of making it so, just might have their own lives changed forever.