HIV and the Church

Posted by Jerome Arceo

Jerome is a student at our Saddleback Manila campus who felt God tugging on his heart to serve local churches globally in the areas of orphan care and HIV/AIDS. The first member of his campus to serve on a PEACE trip, he recently recounted how God used his experience to open his eyes and grow his faith:

When I became a follower of Christ, I dreamt of serving God on the mission field. For 5 years, I prayed to go on a global mission. One day, one of our pastors at Lake Forest suggested I join a PEACE trip. I told him I was waiting for Saddleback South Manila to start one. He asked: “Why are you waiting? Manila is waiting for you.” He sent me a link to the Rwandan PEACE trip and I became a part of the team.

On this trip, God tested my faith. First, he tested it through fundraising. I didn’t know how to raise the funds, but God sent people who helped fully pay for my trip. The second test was 4 days before my flight. I su ered intense panic attacks and acid reflux. I almost backed out because I was scared of my condition.

But God spoke to me, “Jerome, you prayed for this for 5 years. You have funds, you’ve got all your papers; all you have to do is GO!” So I chose to step in faith and trust God. This was not just about fundraising anymore, but about faith raising. I knew God would take care of those wholly devoted to Him.

At Amsterdam, I met my team in person for the first time. The moment we landed in Rwanda, we celebrated like we won the Super Bowl and shouted ‘’Finally, this is it!” We spent our PEACE trip visiting families and communities, conducting seminars on parenting, orphan care, HIV & AIDS, Celebrate Recovery, and more.

We visited families that adopted children. When we asked why they adopted, they said, “After the genocide, the most important thing for us is family and friends.” Hearing this broke my heart. These families in Rwanda have less access than I do to electricity, food, education, gadgets, or stable jobs, and yet they know that people are more valuable than any of these.

From my trip, I’ve learned to trust God in every situation. There are so many families who adopted 1 to 4 children, families living with HIV and AIDS, yet God didn’t forget them. In the whole week we were in Rwanda, I suffered anxiety attacks, but I declared I would finish this trip on His strength and promises. I believe God’s purpose for me is to share my stories on how God changed my life. I've been hopeless, I’m weak, I'm not rich; but I know God prepared me for this. He uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

I challenge you to be a part of our local and global PEACE projects. I tell you, it will change your life. 

If you would like more information on going on a global HIV/AIDS PEACE trip, email

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