I was sick with HIV/AIDS and you did not visit me. You did not wash my wounds, nor provide me treatment. Your time and efforts were spent on trying to figure how I was infected, coming to the conclusion that I deserved this plight for my actions. I was stigmatized, isolated, and rejected because of HIV/AIDS by my family, friends and the church, and you did not welcome me. I was hungry, thirsty and naked; not necessarily for food and water only, but also the hunger and thirst of love, fellowship and acceptance, but you gave me neither. I was impoverished but you gave me no assistance. I was in need of medicines, victimized by rising med costs, but you offered none to me. “Lord, when were you sick with HIV/AIDS? When were you stigmatized, rejected or isolated? When were you impoverished?” Then the Lord will say, “Assuredly I say to you, that each time you failed to do it unto one of the least of these of my family, you did not do it unto me”
The preceding paragraph is an excerpt from my upcoming book entitled “My Hope Is Built”, which deals with my personal engagement with the disease, as well as the relationship between Theology, the Church and HIV/AIDS from a spiritual and moral perspective. This paragraph is an adaptation of St. Matthew 25:41-46 and serves as a reminder of the many opportunities we have as the church to share the redeeming love of God with someone else. As Christians, and particularly as Afro-American Christians, we know full well the power of God’s love, even in the midst of oppression, humiliation, degradation, being marginalized, and victimized. Yet, by His grace, we often lift our voices and proclaim that “our souls look back and wonder how we made it over”, only to discover the answer coming from deeper within, reminding us that “had it not been for the Lord on our side, who knows where we would be”. For those of us living with HIV/AIDS, this affirmation has an even more grand application, yet the silence of the church collectively on the issues of human sexuality in general and HIV/AIDS in particular has left many to feel disqualified and unworthy of God’s love and acceptance. Therefore, let us be reminded by this verse to always remember our opportunities to move beyond the stigma, misconceptions, and our fears, and to embrace those around us who are in the most desperate need of Gods touch and His unconditional love.