Discover life, demonstrate life, declare life.
That was the keynote message from the inaugural Celebrate Life Conference that took place across three communities in Malawi from December 12 to 14.
In total, 1103 delegates comprised of support group members (people living with AIDS), home-based care volunteers, safe motherhood instructors, chiefs, pastors and youth leaders gathered for the unique opportunity to “Celebrate Life” as they continue to overcome the discrimination and stigma of AIDS, finding new hope in Christ.
NOT JUST PHYSICAL RECOVERY
Emmie Mirimbo, a delegate from Mngwangwa said that the time when people hid their status was over. “There is a light that has come and brings life. We are no longer tolerating stigma and discrimination, as you can see how fit we are, we can truly say, ‘we celebrate life!’ The fact that we come out in such large numbers to declare this life, shows you that we are alive and well, taking care of each other through this ministry. The Word of life is sustaining us beyond the ARVs and nutritional support.”
Speakers at the conference were all local champions within their support groups who gave powerful testimonies about their journeys towards not just physical recovery, but spiritual and emotional transformation through Jesus. Chipo Khosa, a dynamic young woman from Chikudzulire, said that “it amazed me when I found out that the foundation of the support group was biblical. There are groups that share stuff (nutrition, medical information etc) but never had I found one who was more interested in my spirit. I was a pastor’s wife but I didn’t know what that meant until I joined the support group”.
Attendants also heard from traditional leaders who boldly proclaimed that the gospel message being preached in their communities’ support groups was true: Christ is life, and without Him, they were the walking dead. Through the witness of the support groups, traditional leaders have come to know Christ, according to Chief Kabudula, and the church continues to bring transformation in the lives of the people.
A NEW LEASE ON LIFE
From singing and dancing, skits and demonstrations, medical and nutritional counselling, to spiritual celebration and encouragement, the Celebrate Life conference was a stunning demonstration of God’s awesome, transforming power.
Visionledd field partner Theresa Malila summed up this experience best when she told the delegates:
“You have discovered through all of this that with God the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong – for you saw that when you were weak, He is strong.
You have Shown that:
You will live life to the fullest
You have purpose in the kingdom of God
Your faith showed there is life after HIV
That in all of this God has the last word in your life and He is glorified
So continue to DISCOVER, DEMONSTRATE, AND DECLARE LIFE!”
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