Thursday, April 12, 2012

His Heart Belongs in Africa

"God had only one Son,
and He was a missionary.”
David Livingstone

Zambia enjoys the great history of David Livingstone exploring and bringing the gospel to their land. David Livingstone died in present-day Zambia on May 1st,1873, from malaria and internal bleeding caused by dysentery. He took his final breaths while kneeling in prayer at his bedside.

Britain wanted the body to give it a proper ceremony, but the tribe would not give his body to them. Finally they relented, but cut the heart out and put a note on the body that said, "You can have his body, but his heart belongs in Africa!". Livingstone's heart was buried under a Mvula tree near the spot where he died. His tombstone in Westminster Abbey reads, "Brought by faithful hands over land and sea, David Livingstone: missionary, traveler, philanthropist. For 30 years his life was spent in an unwearied effort to evangelize the native races, to explore the undiscovered secrets, and to abolish the slave trade."

David Livingstone was the inspiration for many missionaries going to Zambia, Africa. They have been heavily evangelized and are somewhere between 50-75% Christian. The Zambian constitution even declares them to be a Christian nation.

Unfortunately, these factors do not translate into Christian lifestyles in all aspects of their lives. Sex outside of marriage is common, which has become the means by which HIV/AIDS is spread. Zambia has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS. About one in every seven adults is HIV+. The life expectancy is around 50 years old (up from 39 years at the height of the epidemic).

Children have been much affected by the AIDS epidemic in Zambia, where 120,000 children are estimated to be infected with HIV. In 2009 there were 690,000 AIDS orphans in the country and made up half of all orphans in the country.

In 2003, it was revealed that increasing numbers of child rape cases were being fuelled by the "virgin cure" myth (which wrongly claims that sex with a virgin can cure AIDS). Older men will have sex with a younger girl, a virgin, thinking it will take away the AIDS. The reality is that it further spreads the disease.

The church can be one of the most effective means of changing the direction of the epidemic and ministering to those who are affected by it.