Global Ministries staff, family, and friends get ready to walk more than six miles for HIV/AIDS awareness and care in the annual AIDS Walk NY in Central Park,
New York City.
Photo: J Savilon
This past Sunday, which coincidentally was Pentecost, AIDS Walk New York was held in Central Park. The idea to participate in this year’s walk, thanks to a straphanger on the New York Subway who shared the details, sprang from a personal interest to engage with a larger group for a common cause. However, it did not take long for me to realize that linking me to a universal cause is good, but bringing others along would be greater. So in my typical take-charge manner (blame it on my mother!), I decided that it would be great to sign up colleagues and friends!
The three-week sign-up process ranged from the comical in excuses: “My Sunday school class is having finals, so I can’t come” to shock: “Wow! You’re actually getting people to sign up?!” There was also the reprimanding excuse: “It’s Pentecost! You’re supposed to be in church, not the park!” To the latter statement, I asked how many times in the Bible was Jesus in a church (structure). Church, for HIM, was wherever HE was. And he prioritized HIS time not on being in a place, but on being in a state of mind, in body, spirit, and presence where HE could be of most service to the least among HIS children.
Where would Jesus have attended Pentecost Sunday service? The answer depends on both the individual and collective perspectives.
HIV/AIDS, as a disease and a cause, has polarized the faith community. We have made significant strides to overcome prejudices and stigma surrounding the disease, but we still have the hardest portion of the journey to overcome. I overheard quite a few walkers commenting that they were walking in hope for an imminent cure. Some were walking with photos draped around their necks of lost loved ones. Others simply thought this would be a cool event to partake in; and besides, they try to participate in any sporty activity freely offered in the City.
So if you had walked, what would you have walked for? I walked for a cure of the human heart; that we as faith communities and general society may realize that we must walk together in order to make a difference in this world. As Christians, we aim to always stay focused on the goal, which, no matter what the cause, is always rooted in Jesus Christ. In this vain, our differences do not matter. It is the achievement of HIS will for our lives that matters.
So one day (doesn’t have to be a Sunday), go out and have “church” in a park, at a lake, or on a mountain (if you can climb it!). You will see the glory of the LORD shining there just as brightly as it does through the chapel’s stain glass windows.
THANK YOU to all who participated in the Holy Ghost-inspiring walk of 10km/6.3 miles on Sunday!
NOTE: Participation in the AIDS Walk New York was made possible through donations from ReThink Church, United Methodist Global AIDS Fund (ADVANCE # 982345), and private donations.
*Nyamah Dunbar is senior program manager of the Malaria Initiative of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).