The following was sent by a CAMA worker in Papua, Indonesia.
We’ve recently returned to Papua from our year-long home assignment in the US, and we’re being hit hard again by the number of people who are dying here each day. In the last few days, there have been three funerals in our neighborhood. Today there’s yet another one, and I can hear the wailing as I write this. While we were gone, more than 10 people we know died.
Three young soccer players.
The father of one of our players.
Our friends and neighbors.
The graveyard in Sentani, where we made an AIDS awareness video two years ago, has grown incredibly. It’s mostly the graves of young people. There’s an average of four death announcements each day on the radio station in Wamena.
I’m appalled that so many die each day, but I’m really discouraged that no one in the church or community seems to think it’s out of the ordinary. Death is so common here that people hardly pay attention to it anymore. People’s productivity is also incredibly reduced because they spend so much of their time attending funerals.
A few years ago, we were told at a government AIDS meeting that an AusAID survey predicts that by 2025, seven percent of the Papuan population will be HIV-positive. Another source believes that 12–15 percent of the population is HIV-positive now. No one seems to know what the real statistic is, but the rate at which people are dying makes me think it may be higher than anyone imagines.
There are church leaders who continue to deny that AIDS is a problem. The answer, they feel, is to drive the prostitutes out of town. But think of the impact pastors could have if they would challenge their congregations to repentance, purity, and holy living, and if they inserted HIV/AIDS information into their teaching.
Will you inform praying people around the world to lift Papua up in prayer?
Will you join me in praying for Papua?
We can’t do everything, but we can do something!
CAMA Indonesia reaches out to Papuan youth through the Papua United Football Club and HIV/AIDS awareness programs.