My friend Rosa is one of the numbers. She’s one of the 33 million people living with HIV. She lives in Columbia and is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Columbia.
Rosa represents one story, one person. But she isn’t just a number or statistic. She is a wife, a mother, a daughter, and an active member of her church. She is a fellow member of the body of Christ. She is HIV-positive and has been since she was a little girl.
The ELCA strategy on HIV and AIDS affirms the claim made and shared by the Lutheran World Federation: The body of Christ has AIDS. Paul wrote about the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12, describing it as interconnected and interdependent, with each member having value, gifts, and functions. In verse 26 he wrote: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.”
Part of what this means is, Rosa is not alone. She lives in another country with different challenges and experiences, and yet, we are united to her in faith.
When she suffers, we suffer. When she is honored, we are honored.
This message was adapted from “More Than a Number” written by Andrea DeGroot-Nesdahl that first appeared in the December 2010 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine.