Those Who Lack Hope | Pastor Bill Mugford
Churches who love people with HIV&AIDS and their families and friends are gifted faith communities which intentionally create ministries that effectively communicate hope by the grace of the Holy Spirit to all.
Describing such churches and their grace-ministries, the Apostle Paul instructs, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts … for their strengthening, encouragement, and comfort,” I Corinthians 14:1,3b (NIV84). These three characteristics are crucial to providing effective ministries of hope and should be applied to every endeavor of the church, especially ministries for people living with HIV&AIDS and their friends, and families. Each of these characteristics is a study in compassionate community.
“Strengthening” means “to build (up)” and its root word also means “a house, a home.” We can never underestimate the value of house and home for a person living with HIV&AIDS, for many lose housing as the result of economic hardship and some suffer the loss of home because they are physically, emotionally, and socially abandoned by family and friends. Ensuring a place to live and a family to love are gifts beyond measure for the person living with HIV&AIDS.
“Encouragement” means “to come alongside (to help),” and carries the connotation of “giving heart” to someone who has lost hope. People living with HIV&AIDS and their families and friends benefit greatly from constant support, friendship, and even mentoring at personal, small group, and community levels.
And “comfort,” means just that, “to console.” Given over the longer-term, it further means “to make strong.” People living with HIV&AIDS encounter both momentary and marathon challenges, and our “just being there” in advocacy and pastoral care creates hope.
“Getting to Zero!” the number of those who lack hope is not easy, but it’s doable! Make Paul’s guidance part of your prayer: “Father. Help me to follow the way of love and eagerly dispense gifts of the Spirit … for the strengthening, encouragement, and comfort of people in my life living with HIV&AIDS and their friends and families.”