In 1995, we as a family moved to Bangalore from the US after 21 years of secular job. All those were years when the Lord was changing me from a hypocrite to a person with deep convictions and desire to live a God honouring practical Christian life. What always challenged me is the fact that with the right doctrines, if we also have practical life, what an impact that will have on the people around us and how blessed our lives will be?
During an outreach work of our church (Agape Christian Assembly) in our neighbourhood we came across an HIV/AIDS care centre and further regular visits to that place helped me to see the real need of such infected and affected people. This was shared in our church and to other believers from different churches. In the year of 1999, seven of us came together to start the ACCEPT ministry. Initially the work was from our home but soon we felt the need for a place where they can be admitted as many of them badly needed medical help. With God’s grace, by faith we started looking for a place and by His people’s help in 2001 we were able to buy a land and build a 25-bed care centre and later it was expanded to 35. In 2005 further ministry to HIV positive orphan children was started. Last 15 years we have seen the Lord using this ministry to impact many lives for Him. “Compassion (of Christ) in action” is our slogan.
In the path we have trodden hitherto we faced many challenges, discouragements, and also wonderful encouragement from many of God’s people. One of the main challenges was to dispel the unnecessary fear people usually have about HIV. Many wrongly think that HIV is very contagious and therefore all kinds of contact with the infected person must be avoided. The truth is that caring for the HIV infected does not involve risk if the care giver follows normal precautions. Also, many have a judgmental attitude that since HIV is mostly transmitted in India through illicit sex; those who got it deserve the pain they go through. The fact is that many HIV patients are victims of their spouses’ sinful life. Likewise, all infected children are innocent as they got it from their parents. We should not be judgemental, instead should have the compassion of Christ even to the ones who got it by their own sin. This is demonstrated by the Lord in John 8 where love and truth are balanced in His final words to the woman caught in adultery. Thus, we ought to see HIV scenario as an opportunity to show people the love and compassion of our Lord Jesus and guide them to eternal life.
Many among us do not consider this kind of ministry as the work of the Lord. I do not worry about it. I have two deep convictions. One is to share God’s love without sacrificing the truth. Eph 4:15. The other is that such ministries should be carried out with the local church’s guidance and active participation. The main purpose of ACCEPT ministry is to share the gospel to all who come through our door and see them come to a saving knowledge of the Lord. Through this ministry thousands of patients and their families have been ministered to and also the lives of many children here. Some of the widows and others who came as patients have put their faith in the Lord and are rehabilitated here as staff or helpers in the care home. We have seen people who were so desperate; those who even attempted suicide get transformed through the love of Christ. Today, some of them are serving the Lord with us and actively participating in the church also.
The future of many children who are in our care is a big challenge but we are already seeing the Lord’s hand in their lives. Recently our oldest daughter of the Accept family got married to another young person who came here and became a believer. We hope and pray that families of believers will come forward to adopt these children into their families without fear. What a joy it will be for you to give an opportunity to at least one such precious one.
Eternity only will reveal the full extent of the impact of this ministry as many patients when they go from here take the Bible with them and are followed up by God’s servants in their native places in some cases. God’s faithfulness in this ministry providing the needed staff and resources is marvellous. Without any fund raising techniques we have seen the Lord providing on time. We love to see it continue as a faith ministry. Having seen much pain and sorrow of people and over 640 deaths (mostly young people) in our centre in the last 12 years, I have a deeper appreciation of this ‘one life’ that God has given me. And I desire to invest it for Him and His kingdom. All glory to God alone.
Note: Accept ministries urgently need a doctor (full time or part time).
Raju K. Mathew, Agape Christian Assembly & Accept ministry, Bangalore
contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 09448619619.