Submitted by Jan on Tue, 13/05/2014 – 10:28
Year A (2013-2014)
Bible Book: Acts / Handelinge
Verse: 55 – 60
I still remember walking home after being diagnosed HIV positive. My body began to shrink and I was sure everyone I walked past could see my emaciated body because in my mind thats how I saw it. I could even begin to feel a rash developing on my face even though there was none. My walk home lasted seven minutes and yet it was filled with so much pain. This makes me think of the agony a friend of mine must have gone through. Only when his wife was critically sick was he tested. After her death his children began to fall sick, on testing them three out of five children were HIV positive . Family and friends deserted him on realizing this. They did not want to waste their resources on them because they were waiting for them to die. This was many years ago, through the grace of God he has managed to bring up the children who are now very healthy. I cannot begin to describe his pain filled life of being jobless and having to feed his children who are on medication, as people continued to throw insults at him. This for me are the examples of Stephen today. They have had so many stones thrown at them but they continue to look up to God and forgive their persecutors so that they can live at peace with the Lord.
The scripture reading shows Stephen as a very brave and gentle man. Like the guiding principles of Churches Channels of Hope, he tried to speak the truth in love guided by the holy spirit, but the people falsely accused him of blasphemy, dragged him out and stoned him. This account is similar to the agony Jesus went through at the end of His life. False witnesses (Matt 26:60) accused him and the high priest said he spoke blasphemy ( Matt 26:65), he was also beaten up and finally crucified. However, They both forgave their prosecutors. As Stephen cried, (Acts 7:60) “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” He was able to offer his sprit to the Lord and feel no pain, as he saw Jesus standing before him , fighting his battles. He was at peace.
I celebrate the people living with HIV who have not given up and continue to faithfully trust in Gods unfailing love for He is faithful and gracious to the very end. “As you come to him, the living stone -rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him ( I Peter 2:4).” As Christians let us forgive so that we too maybe forgiven.
To think about: What stone have you thrown at yourself and others? Have you forgiven yourself and others that have hurt you?
Ann Mary Gathigia is a trained Churches Channels of Hope Facilitator based in Kenya.
Author: Gathigia A M (Ms)