thinking out loud

…things that are on my mind, heart, and soul

Warrior Princess: Fighting for Life with Courage and Hope

Imagine losing your mother, father, sister, brother and husband to a deadly disease. Then imagine carrying the killer HIV virus in your own body as well. To be honest, that scenario is beyond my capacity to imagine – and yet it is the reality Princess Zulu of Zambia lives with each and every day.  And yet, in her book “Warrior Princess: Fighting for Life with Courage and Hope,” Princess Zulu tells a compelling and inspiring story that will not only capture your heart, but  hopefully will move you into action as well.

On January 2, 1998 Princess discovered that she was HIV positive. However, she refused to be defeated by that diagnosis, but instead committed herself to doing everything humanly possible to educate, inform and to fight for life. Her own nation of Zambia and the entire sub-Saharan region of Africa has been devastated by the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Consider some of the most recent statistics:

  • Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region most heavily affected by HIV worldwide, accounting for over two thirds (67%) of all people living with HIV and for nearly three quarters (72%) of AIDS-related deaths in 2008.
  • An estimated 1.9 million [1.6 million–2.2 million] people were newly infected with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa in 2008, bringing to 22.4 million [20.8 million–24.1 million] the number of people living with HIV.
  • In 2008, more than 14 million children in sub-Saharan Africa had lost one or both parents to AIDS.
  • The nine countries in southern Africa continue to bear a disproportionate share of the global AIDS burden—each of them has an adult HIV prevalence greater than 10%.

Early in Princess Zulu’s spiritual journey she received a series of prophetic words and Scriptures that would guide and empower her life and mission. She tells the story of a word she received in 1996 from the Prophet Zimba who shared a vision of Princess “standing at an airport carrying suitcases. There were flights going in different directions, all around the world. The flags of many nations were waving about, but some were standing out stronger than others: the flags of Canada, Australia and America. And the American flag had come to a standstill” (pages 78-79).  Little did Princess know that God would one day carry this simple Zambian woman to the places of power in her own nation and around the globe to speak as a advocate for those suffering from the impact of  HIV and AIDS – especially women and vulnerable children.

Princess is one gutsy woman. One of the techniques she used to raise awareness about HIV was to pose as a commercial sex worker and “work” the truckers who would travel through her region. When they would solicit her for sex, she would make them aware of her HIV status and then educate them about the dangers of their own behavior and how they were contributing to the spread of the virus. While at times controversial, Princess would not let the conventional wisdom set the pace for the education of Africans regarding this deadly disease.

Princess is a wonderful storyteller and one of my favorite stories in the book recalls the famous “President Bush Kiss.”  Princess was invited to the White House to speak the President around the occasion of his PEPFAR initiative. The picture I included in this blogpost is worth one thousand words, but I encourage you to pick up the book to read the story behind the kiss.

From the White House to the gym at Eisenhower School. In 2008 our community of faith was fortunate to have Princess Zulu with us for a worship gathering. She shared a powerful message of compassion and hope and I encourage you to listen to it.

Please read Princess Zulu’s story. You will be inspired and I pray you will be moved into action. If you would like to learn more about the work of World Vision and our partnership in Guraghe, Ethiopia, please leave a comment and I would be pleased to connect you to this important work.

Stay connected…

Filed under: global poverty, hope, Uncategorized, world AIDS day

6,000 Reasons: World AIDS Day


Today is World AIDS Day. This year the United Nations theme is Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise. Allow me to share 6,000 reasons why you should care.

6,000 reasons . . . and each has a name
6,000 reasons . . . and each has a face
6,000 reasons . . . and each has a story

Today, like every day, 6,000 children will lose a parent to AIDS.
Today, like every day, we have 6,000 reasons to care.
Today, like every day, we have 6,000 reasons to offer HOPE .

Thousands of children will lose a parent today because of AIDS. UNICEF estimates that 6,000 children lose a parent to AIDS every day. Each child has a name — and a heart-breaking story.

On this World AIDS let me suggest six things you can do to bring real help and hope to people in our world living with the reality of HIV and AIDS.

1) Take an AIDS Test: How much do you really know about AIDS? One of the reasons AIDS continues to be such a global concern is that the disease is surrounded by myth and misinformation. World Vision has a simple online test that will quickly reveal your knowledge base. And the good news: no blood is required.

2) Learn and Listen: Read a book on the reality of this global pandemic.

The Skeptics Guide to the World AIDS Crisis (Dale Hanson)
The Hope Factor (Tetsunao Yamamori)
There Is No Me without You (Melissa Greene)
28: Stories of AIDS in Africa (Stephanie Nolan)

Listen to this message of compassion and hope by Princess Zulu, an international spokesperson on AIDS and HIDS. Princess knows first-hand the reality of HIV and AIDS as she has lost both of her parents to AIDS and is living HIV+.

3) Get RED: During the season of gift giving, buy (Red) and give life. There are hundreds of products that you can purchase and also provide support for the elimination of AIDS in Africa. Today PRODUCT Red has launched RED WIRE, a weekly digital music magazine where you can receive exclusive music from the world’s greatest artists, and people living with HIV in Africa will get the medicine they need to stay alive.

4) Advocate: Contact your members of Congress and urge them to continue exercising leadership on this critical issue. With great power comes great responsibility.

5) Fast: Poverty is one of the leading causes of AIDS. The Micah Challenge is inviting people to ACT FAST for seven weeks to end extreme poverty in our world.

6) Pray: Ask God to show you what you can do TODAY to bring real help and hope to people living with HIV and AIDS, both near and far and everywhere in-between. May God give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts that will respond in faith, hope and love.

Stay connected…

Filed under: world AIDS day

about me

my name is terry and i've been married to a great woman, patty for 29 years and we have four children, (ranging from 17-25) and an awesome grandson. i serve as lead pastor of christ community church of the south hills in pittsburgh, pa (lets go pens!). i am currently working on a book on worship with a working title of "a movable feast: a liturgy for our everyday, ordinary lives."

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