I've been concerned over AIDS for many years. I remember the early years of the detection of the disease and its spread. I was a designer for an import/export company that had items made in Haiti. I had to travel to that plant a couple of times. AIDS was new to the scientific world then and Haiti was one of the first countries to have massive outbreaks. I also remember when the first patient positive with AIDS ended up in my husband's medical office. I was so proud of him. The staff was nervous and showed it. He held a special meeting after hours and told us he took an oath to treat sick people and there were no clauses of exception. If anyone could not treat every patient with honor and respect he wanted their resignation.
So.....yes "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" fits wonderfully with heavenly peace and God's call on our lives. May I present Mary Fisher, UN Special Social Representative:
Given the fact that the AIDS virus has found some forty million people and left in its wake 16 million (or so) orphans, numbers are bound to be part of the story. But massive numbers can also stymie helpful responses. Big, grim numbers may evoke more sighs than prayers. A reasonable person may conclude that he is helpless against such a tidal wave of suffering. If she knew the numbers on AIDS, Pollyanna would be hospitalized for clinical depression.
Numbers may convince us that doing nothing is nothing short of doing evil. But we must not imprison ourselves with the belief that the numbers are too big and we are too small to make a difference. Because the truth is, you and your congregations can make a difference far greater than the statistics that measure this plague.
I was a young mother, two preschoolers playing near my phone, the hour I learned that I was HIV-positive. It was 1991. Everyone infected with AIDS was headed for the grave. We knew it. Our doctors knew it. We all knew we were a sorry company of pilgrims marching to our deaths. So I spent those early years doing the only common-sense thing I could do: preparing to die.
The first two collections of my early speeches, published in 1995 and 1996, are full of death and funeral meditations. I started journals for my sons so they would know I had loved them. I wrote and rewrote wills and worried deeply about guardianships. I took on dying as I took on everything: as a project. I accepted it, organized it and planned for it.
After nearly a year of angst, I decided to speak out publicly. Since I had only a short while to live, I needed to make an impact fast. Besides, if people didn’t like what I said, what could they do – kill me? So I took to the stage with the hope that a dying woman could make a difference for the living.
Early on, I and others expected charismatic leaders would bring to us what Martin Luther King brought to the American Civil Rights movement. But it didn’t happen. The church that had birthed powerful preachers like King was eerily silent, often judgmental, almost never our champion. Without spiritual support, hope became a fragile creature.