Our dear friends and teammates, Derek and Kristin Dearth are at home in the States right now to have their first child and to also raise awareness and funding for their ministry here in Lusaka, Zambia. Together with our national partners John Chitambo and Eta Imasiku they run an HIV/AIDS ministry called the C.R.O.S.S. Project (Churches Ready to Overcome Stigma and Silence). Zambia is located in Sub-Saharan Africa and like our neighboring countries, there is a very high rate of infection of HIV/AIDS; 15% of Zambians are HIV+, there is a 20-25% urban infection rate and only 28% of Zambians know their HIV status. These high infection rates are exacerbated by gender and power issues including rampant rape, incest, child abuse, domestic abuse, poverty and prostitution. UNICEF has recently reported that as high as 70% of Zambian children are abused. For a disturbing article on violence against women and girls in Zambian Watchdog, click here.
Because of culture, churches often avoid teaching on HIV and the issues that surround this disease. The C.R.O.S.S. Project focuses on teaching church leadership about the purpose and role of the church in this crisis. They teach this 16 week course to 6 churches a year, reaching out to local church HIV ministry teams and giving solid training. They encourage every participating church team to go for voluntary HIV counseling and testing, offer hospice training seminars, and teach a biblical view of the issues that cause the spread of HIV, including adultery, gender issues, domestic abuse and lack of care for the most vulnerable including orphans and widows. Churches need to overcome the stigma and silence that surrounds sexual issues and teach against cultural and traditional views that degrade and endanger women and children. The church must also be willing to reach out to those people in their communities that are infected with HIV and show them the love of Christ. The C.R.O.S.S. Project is breaking down culture and tradition and teaching the gospel - a gospel of love, hope, and reconciliation.
The C.R.O.S.S. Project need financial partners!! So find out more about their ministry, check out their blog and partner with them in this awesome outreach to local communities through the local church.