Living with HIV, One Woman Found Hope

In South Sudan, one woman overcame judgment and hostility through Bible-based Trauma Healing

For years, Grace feared walking to the market with her friends. She dreaded celebrating holidays with her family. And she constantly worried about sleeping, wondering if her agonizing nightmares would return. Every day, Grace endured judgment, rejection and hostility—because every day, Grace endured life with HIV.

...they experience life as castaways—as outsiders stripped of their voice.

In Grace’s South Sudanese community, nestled beside tropical forests and stretches of grassland, women with HIV live arduous lives. They face discrimination from friends, family members and communities. They encounter divorce and separation. And they experience life as castaways—as outsiders stripped of their voice.

So, without an opportunity to live in community with friends and family, Grace journeyed through life alone. She had no one to love her, talk with her or support her; she had no hope for the future. Before long, Grace started to believe the words of her oppressors, submitting to feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness.

To cope, Grace tried hiding from her infection. She walked to the market with a new group of friends. She celebrated holidays without her family. And she tried to live as a “normal” woman, without the burden of her life-altering infection.

For a moment, Grace’s story alleviated her hurt and her heartbreak. But over time, the reality of life with HIV came crashing down. Her nightmares persisted, her ability to cope with fear and anxiety diminished and her need to find healing—and live an authentic life—grew.

Finally, in search of an escape from her pain, Grace signed up for a Bible-based Trauma Healing program, made possible by the Bible Society of South Sudan with support from generous financial partners from American Bible Society. While anxiously anticipating her first session, Grace meandered down a hazy dirt road, stepped into a towering brick church and introduced herself to the program’s facilitators. They smiled warmly—and handed her a Bible.

She found hope in God’s Word, even though her circumstances felt hopeless. She found strength to share her story, even after years of silence.

In the months that followed, Grace experienced a transformation. She found hope in God’s Word, even though her circumstances felt hopeless. She found strength to share her story, even after years of silence. And she uncovered the power of continually seeking the Lord, even in the midst of pain and suffering.

Today, Grace doesn’t hide from life with HIV.

Today, Grace doesn’t hide from life with HIV. She doesn’t dread walking to the market, fear celebrating holidays or worry about falling asleep. Instead, Grace tells a new story: wrapped up in God’s love, she has nothing to fear.

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