One of my current projects is to help Angela (a boss from Uganda who wears bright African prints, is an MD and MPH and raises three children here) put together an article on how the American Church, long absent in the response to AIDS, can involve itself in work with orphans and other vulnerable children.
The American Church, fortunately, has now woken up to the realization that the Body of Christ has AIDS. Two-thirds of HIV-infected people live in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region which is home to more Christians than North America. In addition, estimates suggest that fifteen million children worldwide have been orphaned by AIDS. Extended African family networks, which for centuries absorbed such children, have been overwhelmed by the AIDS pandemic.
Herein lie the opportunity, the calling, and the mandate of the Church: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…” exhorts Jesus’ brother James. The Church must respond to this command to stand in the gap for the orphans and vulnerable children of Africa. In fact, they may be the only ones who can.
a) In HIV/AIDS literature, orphans and other vulnerable children (OVC) is a technical term that encompasses all children who have been infected or affected by AIDS.
b) In the development literature, an orphan has lost one parent. Children who lose both are called double orphans.