SBTC churches gathering care buckets for victims of Africa AIDS pandemic

Medical volunteers with South Africa-based Tabitha Ministries last year saw 85-105 people in their care die to AIDS weekly?a staggering loss that pales in comparison to all of sub-Saharan Africa, where HIV/AIDS infects 22.5 million of the 37 million HIV/AIDS carriers worldwide.

In Swaziland, a country bordering South Africa and Mozambique, 30 percent of children have lost one or both parents to AIDS. Only one person in 10 there will reach age 40 because of AIDS and other diseases.

Through Baptist Global Relief (BGR), a Southern Baptist relief and development organization, Texas Southern Baptist churches will be among those collecting supplies?lotions, toothbrushes, vitamins, bedding, hygiene products?to be sent to Africa in five-gallon, plastic In-Home Care Kits.

The kits, said SBTC Disaster Relief Director Jim Richardson, cost less than $100 to prepare with a national goal of 5,000 kits for 2009. Last year, BGR worked with congregations in three states to send 1,378 care kits through Baptist Fellowship of Zambia’s human needs program and to Tabitha Ministries, which cares for more than 1,300 HIV-positive children in a district of South Africa where per capita HIV rates are the world’s highest.

Richardson said: “It gives us an opportunity to involve Texans in direct mission activity for people in Africa who are suffering with AIDS, knowing that these care buckets will be used over and over again by Southern Baptist missionaries in the care of people who are facing imminent death, and knowing our missionaries will be able distribute these ministry buckets with the life-giving message of hope found only in Jesus Christ.”

The items are a tremendous help to families that must care for terminally ill relatives at home because healthcare access is very limited, explained Mark Hatfield, Baptist Global Response’s area director for sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to AIDS, thousands of other Africans are homebound sufferers of cancer, tuberculosis, malaria and other fatal illnesses.

Hatfield said the temptation is to see the AIDS pandemic as “just a bunch of statistics.”

“All you have to do, though, is visit in the home of someone with full-blown AIDS who is experiencing a slow, painful death or stop in a home in which a 14-year-old is caring for three brothers and sisters because no adult is left to head the home,” Hatfield said. “Then you begin to see the HIV/AIDS crisis as an extremely personal issue.”

The SBTC is coordinating the collection of In-Home Care Kits to be delivered to to BGR’s warehouse in Richmond, Va., by Sept. 1.

Promotional materials include a form press release to be used by churches announcing their participation in the project in their local newspaper. Also included is a seven-day AIDS prayer guide.

For information on how to participate, call Jim Richardson toll-free at 877-953-7282 (SBTC) or e-mail him at A video about the In-Home Care Kit project is viewable at

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