March 5, 2012
This year's National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS is March 4-10. Sponsored by the Balm in Gilead, a Richmond, Va.-based nonprofit that helps address health disparities in the black community by developing faith-based programming, the observance is designed to raise HIV/AIDS awareness among congregations.
"In every church, every synagogue, every mosque, every temple there are probably two groups of people," said the Rev. Marvin A. McMickle, president of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in New York. "One I refer to are the people who are infected; the other are the affected."
McMickle is taking the lead on HIV/AIDS issues. While pastor at Antioch Baptist Church in Cleveland, he started a testing program in 1998 that has reached roughly 10,000 people. Several years ago, he wrote "A Time to Speak: How Black Pastors Can Respond to the HIV/AIDS Pandemic." The title comes from Ecclesiastes: "It says there's a time to speak and a time to keep silent," and "we've been silent too long" on HIV/AIDS, he noted.
The prayer week's observance during Lent allows for introspection, said McMickle. "Rather than look at the sins of others, take a look at our own lives," he urged.
"Even if you don't have the disease yourself, you ought to have empathy, sympathy, and compassion for those who do," McMickle said. "What we have to do now is be compassionate, what Jesus would be. Show them love."
For more information, visit www.nationalweekofprayerforthehealingofaids.org/index.htm.