Back in 2007 I took on the role of chairing a charity which oversees the Church of Scotland’s work in the field of HIV. Over the years, this work has taken me from Orkney in the north to Melbourne in the south, with Malawi right in the middle.
This month, my time as convener of the Church of Scotland HIV Programme comes to an end – and I’ll be really sad to leave the many friends and colleagues I have made over my time with the Programme. It has been a fascinating eight years, during which I have been privileged to meet so many brave people of faith who have joined the fight against HIV and the terrible stigma which comes with it.
During that period, the people of Longniddry have come on board too, often in very big ways. For example, many from across our community – both young and old – came together to support our Christian Aid match-funding scheme with the Scottish Government, which raised an amazing £66,000 for an HIV adult education project in central Africa. And then there have been all our amazing Souper Sunday services, pioneered right here in Gladsmuir and Longniddry in 2009: an annual act of worship which has gone on to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds in the succeeding years.
All this work will continue of course, simply because we in the Church are committed to keeping our part in the promise to overcome this killer virus and the terrible misunderstanding surrounding it. As followers of Jesus, we must own our calling to bring Christ’s Light into dark places, ushering in new life from the emptiness of death and despair.
That is what the Church must be about. Indeed, that is what all of life lived in the Kingdom of God must be about.