Over 34 pastors from across the country have been trained to preach about HIV and AIDS in their churches. This topic has been swept under the carpet in conservative Zimbabwe.

Speaking last Thursday at the wrap-up of the Support to Faith-Based Organisations Seminar Peter Bare, Programmes officer of the Evangelical Fellowship Zimbabwe (EFZ), said that the programme was designed to ensure that the AIDS message is taken to the people.

“We trained 34 pastors from Harare and Bulawayo about HIV and AIDS, we wanted to ensure that the HIV and AIDS message is included in sermons,” said Bare.

The programme, supported by Africare, began in 2008 has been successful in the churches. Bare said that some churches have already formed support groups that are helping people to come out in the church about their status.

“We have been working with the Methodist Development and Relief Agency (MeDRA), Union for Development of the Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe (UDACIZA), and the membership of EFZ in building capacity, training and awareness in Harare and Bulawayo. We have pastors and lay preachers who can preach boldly on HIV/AIDS. We call that the practical gospel because it touches at the very nature and marrow of what is afflicting society today,” Bare said

He said churches like the Assemblies of God now have internal structures including a coordinator specifically targeting members of the church living positively. “This has been necessitated by the withdrawal of funding partners and the realization by us as Zimbabweans that we cannot continue to rely on external funds.”