Mozambique's Good Samaritan
She greets visitors with a wide smile, dancing and joy. But Rosalina Matola, founder of the Evangelical Church of the Divine Pastorate of Mozambique, also understands pain. “My own father died when I was 3 years old,” Rosalina explains, “so I know what it is to be in need.” Yet grief and struggle do not define Rosalina.
Rosalina is serving in Mozambique, Africa, where it is estimated that 500 new cases of HIV/AIDS infection occur every day. She considers it her calling to share God's love with those who suffer from this terrible disease.
Here in the southern district of Infulene, she spreads that joy to almost everyone she meets — disabled victims of a 16-year civil war and those maimed by land mines the war left behind; families displaced by natural disasters and orphans now without any family of their own; women abandoned by husbands and young men desperate for answers of what their future
Rosalina cares for them all. And now, equipped with training from the American Bible Society-sponsored Good Samaritan program, this care is extending even further to reach some of Mozambique's most vulnerable.
A Haven for the Abandoned
The Good Samaritan program is an HIV/AIDS outreach implemented by the Bible Society of Mozambique (BSMz). It trains Christian leaders like Rosalina to respond to the problem of HIV/AIDS with Jesus's love and compassion. From July 2009 to May 2010, the project prepared 118 pastors and teachers to minister through Scripture to HIV/AIDS patients and their families.
Through onsite training sessions, informational booklets and the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10.25-37, Mozambican pastors and teachers learn to provide for the basic medical, emotional and spiritual needs of infected individuals and their families. The leaders then bring this training back to their village churches so they can help others.
Each day, HIV-positive Mozambicans struggle to overcome the stigma associated with their disease. Often they are abandoned by their families and lack access to proper nutrition, medical treatment and resources. But where others turn away, Rosalina invites them in. She visits them, providing love and acceptance. For those cast out, she also has a place for them to stay: her six-bed compound is a haven, staffed with volunteers who provide shelter and nutrition for all those in her care.
Taking Care of Them All
The first case of HIV in Mozambique appeared in 1986. Now, according to UNICEF, approximately 1.5 million Mozambicans live with HIV/AIDS. Rosalina watches firsthand as the HIV/AIDS epidemic ravages families, children, men and women in her community. “We have orphans to take care of. Old people too,” Rosalina explains.
In Mozambique, the Good Samaritan program is replacing the stigma of the disease with a love for one's neighbor — a love that reflects Jesus's Words: “Whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of mine, you did it for me!” Matthew 25.40 (GNT)
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