JIJUE Breaks New HIV Testing Frontiers at Ridgeways Baptist Church
Henry stood quietly as he listened to the cell group members planning for the coming Sunday service. Suddenly Sarah Vugigi said, "We need someone in the congregation to volunteer to be tested on the pulpit this coming Sunday". There was a long uncomfortable silence, then Henry said, "I will". The cell group members were both surprised and excited. Little did they know the battle that awaited him.
Henry shared his exciting decision to share the news with his wife Nancy to get an HIV test at the service. Her response was swift and immediate, "There is no way I will get tested with you! In fact, I will not even come to church with you. You can die by yourself". Taken aback, Henry explained that it was his personal decision and he would go along with it.
During the Sunday service, Mike Mutungi, from I Choose Life-Africa, gave a message entitled "The Dance of Death: The Impact of HIV and AIDS on the Family". He gave national data on HIV and called the church for action. A major thrust of his message was for the congregants to know their HIV status reinforced by the testimony of an HIV positive discordant couple. Before he could finish the message, church members were already queuing outside the tents that were providing HIV testing. Henry too made his way to the pulpit and was tested for HIV in full view of all the church members and immediately got a glow in the dark Jijue wrist band. His results were of course kept confidential.
What happened next was magnetic. While Henry was testing, Nancy had run to the church Kitchen to ensure that she was as far away as possible. But then suddenly she decided to come and check out Henry's result. As soon as he disclosed his status to his wife, she followed the Counselor to the tent and demanded she be tested as well. After receiving her results, she dashed out, gave Henry a long hug and there was uncontrollable jubilation by the couple. They immediately rededicated themselves to their marriage vows a second time!
On that Sunday alone, 202 individuals were tested at Ridgeways Baptist, of which 168 (83%) were males and 34 (17%) females. This was completely counter to the culture where only 26% of males know HIV status while women are 45%. The test kits ran out and many people were turned away. Many made vows to prevent themselves from HIV infection and live positive lives. They had taken charge of their lives and destiny. And in the midst of all this, the candle of hope advanced her shining light into the darkness and the wrist bands glowed into the night carrying a light all their own.