Intro to Watsonopolis

There was one who once said crazy things like, give your possessions to the poor, let your light shine, go to the ends of the earth, love God, love your neighbor, serve, pray, die and live. Those words, the words of Jesus, have gripped and shaped our lives.

Because of Jesus’ life, challenge and love we are propelled into an amazing life journey; a journey that most often finds us pitching our tent among the poor and those on the margins of our world, serving, living, teaching, learning and loving there.

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Monday
Dec012008

World AIDS Day

Below is a letter that Lisa and i wrote in honor of World AIDS Day, 2006.  It continues to convey our hearts on this day of reflection and re-commitment.  We have edited it in order to bring it up to date and added a few heroes that we've met along the way.

-matthew & lisa.

Friends & Family

 

World AIDS Day, 2008

December 1st is internationally recognized as World AIDS Day; a day to mourn those we’ve lost to HIV/AIDS, to love those living with the disease, to raise awareness, to re-encourage ourselves to stay in the fight, to celebrate the victories (however small they may seem) and, mostly, pray.

Our hope is that today, you will encourage your family, friends and loved ones who are living with HIV/AIDS and pray for those who are serving and ministering to those affected. 

Today, I (Matthew) remember my friend, Johnny Madison.  Johnny was my best friend in High School.  A beautiful man who spent the latter part of his short life living with HIV and raising awareness about the disease as a motivational speaker and lecturer focusing primarily in disadvantaged neighborhoods in the Houston area.  Johnny and I were on the wrestling team together, attended church together, had countless meals at Snuffer’s near SMU in Dallas and made a great many memories.  He discovered his HIV status not long after graduating for college.  It was at that point that he began speaking at Jr. High and High Schools, young adult gatherings and congregations.  Unfortunately, after years of struggling with the disease and after a string of difficult hospital visits with a weak immune system, wearily, Johnny decided to take his own life.  I have and will continue to miss my friend.

Today, I (Lisa) celebrate Nyazi Dandong. A strong 33, year old Nigerian woman who, out of love for Jesus, loves and serves our family.  Nyazi is a mom.  Her son is 3 and his name is Prince.  But the difficult part of her story is that Prince is not her biological son.  Her own son died about a year and half ago.  He and Prince were the same age.  When Nyazi’s brother died of the disease, she took his son, Prince, who was left orphaned, as her own.  Nyazi is a widow.  Her husband died of HIV/AIDS.  Nyazi has a deep well of love within her that can’t be snuffed out by a sickness, or even by death itself.  My favorite memory of Nyazi is watching her dance at the support group she attends.  The song was about fighting the disease with dignity, and living despite the hardships.  She worshipped and danced, and with amazing strength danced out the truth of her life in that song.  Today I celebrate Nyazi Dandong, who is living positively with HIV.   

Today, we (Matthew, Lisa & Nathan) are encouraged by our many friends and colleagues spread around the globe who are fighting against HIV/AIDS.  We celebrate our friend Dr. Art Amman and his team at Global Strategies. Dr. Art is the first doctor to discover HIV in children over two decades ago. Fueled by a deep faith in Jesus, that discovery then propelled Dr. Amman to begin addressing pediatric AIDS worldwide.  We celebrate our friend, Dr. Don Simmons who, while our professor at Golden Gate Seminary, organized the first AIDS awareness conference at a Southern Baptist Seminary.  We’re thankful for his courageous leadership.  We celebrate Drs. Chris & Mercy Isichei and Biana Grogg and their compassionate leadership at Faith Alive in Jos, Nigeria where we once had the priveledge of serving.  We're thankful for Habibat Abdulkareem, who passed away earlier this year due to AIDS, but lived out the last days of her life training others to knit and make a living while living positively.  We're deeply grateful for our dear friend, Florence Nwonkwo who, although positive herself, trains women in sewing, teaching them to be amazing tailors and amazing women of hope.

So, today, we hope that with us, you too will mourn, pray and celebrate.  For there is ample reason for all three.

With full hearts…

Matthew, Lisa, Nathan & Elias

 

Reader Comments (1)

Matthew, I didn't know about Johnny Madison. That makes me sad but thankful that he was spreading awareness about AIDS/HIV. I know he would be honored that you are still using his life to share with others about this disease.

December 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi

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