Early last century, occupants of the YWAM Harpenden property fell prey to tuberculosis. As a reminder of the outbreak, gravestones inscribed with the names of babies, children and teenagers still stand at the site, which was originally a children's home.
But on January 21, staff, students and visiting delegates huddled together against the cold and rain to pray for the Lord's intervention in another epidemic: HIV/AIDS.
"We in YWAM have been and are now seriously affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and it is time for a global response," said Steve Goode, Director of YWAM Mercy Ministries.
The prayer meeting marked the end of a five-day HIV/AIDS consultation attended by 25 people representing nations from around the world that all have been uniquely touched by HIV/AIDS. The group developed an HIV/AIDS working document that has been submitted for approval by the GLT to supersede the March 1996 HIV/AIDS document. This recommendation is currently under consideration.
They also came to a consensus that their response to the crisis would be to "focus on the HIV/AIDS pandemic globally through health care, prevention, education, outreach, orphan and family support, and business through practically loving God and our neighbour."
In addition to the response, a covenant was made in the cemetery before God, each other and those whose lives have been taken.
YWAM HIV/AIDS GLOBAL MANDATE
"The Lord is gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all and he has compassion on all he has made." (Ps 145:8-9)
Our God is full of mercy and compassion to all, including those who are living with HIV/AIDS. God has a message of hope, worth and dignity for all infected or affected by the disease. As a movement committed to following Jesus and His example, Youth With A Mission is called to love, accept and care for, without discrimination, all impacted by HIV/AIDS among our staff, and those we work with. We as YWAM acknowledge our responsibility and commit to serve and engage holistically with the HIV/AIDS Pandemic in every country and in each area of culture and society until there is no longer need.
The HIV/AIDS consultative group will further discuss issues at the GLT Executive meeting in March and at the GLT meetings in August. There is also a YWAM Global HIV/AIDS conference being planned in Jinja, Uganda in 2007.