Friday, December 10, 2010

The Beutiful Gate of Heaven

As part of the Greater Than AIDS Campaign, my wife Dionne & I were extremely blessed to be the guest of the Beautiful Gate Outreach Center (BHOC) of Bethel AME church, in Wilmington Delaware on Sunday to share in their Greater Than AIDS program.  Their church is doing superlative work in the community regarding HIV.  They are a national example of what "the church" could be doing.

We were showered with love by the founder and driving force behind Beautiful Gate, Ms. Renee Beamon, LPN, her husband, Pastor Sylvester Beamon, the staff, minister, family and the congregation.  We were asked to share our story about how we have been living and loving together for the past 25 years in spite of my being diagnosed with HIV.  We were allowed to share, from the hallowed pulpit, our experience, strength and hope for all of us affected by HIV.  It may have been the first time a "hetero-magnetic" couple (+/-) has

 It was the 17th year that Renee has had speakers come in on the Sunday before Thanksgiving to share their stories and solutions regarding HIV.  The magnitude of that achievement pales in comparison to the many services that she and her ministry are providing to the Wilmington community.  Among other things, BGOC has tested over 1200 people in the community for HIV.  They were selected by the state of Delaware to be the first non-governmental agency to provide HIV testing.  Through, and more uniquely and importantly, at the church, they offer quality prevention, outreach and supportive HIV services.

It has been evident that the church is often maligned for their sub-par involvement in the fight against AIDS, and with good reasons.  It has been said that the church, especially in the African American communities, could be more engaged in a solutions based response.  Bethel AME is leading the way as an example of how love and compassion can be used to solve more of the unmet needs of families affected by HIV.  My wife Dionne and I experienced some of that healing in just the one day we were there!  We were enlightened and inspired to help other churches see what they could be doing if they were so inclined, and to not accept the hype that churches don't want to do it.

Ultimately, I think that every church wants to spread love.  Many are either afraid of the issue of HIV, or think they lack the information and/or resources to do anything about it.  It is our intention to help them understand how we are ALL affected by HIV in one way or another, and that the one thing that EVERY church can give IS love.  We are also, as a part of our W.A.R. Initiative, a part of a growing coalition of local and national organizations that are providing those services that families affected by HIV need.  Where would be a better place that the church to coalesce the effort to disseminate those services in all our communities across America?

Newly elected Delaware state senator Christopher Coons also spoke from the pulpit on Sunday.  He commented on the improbable nature of his election, how relatively unexpected it was he would even be running for senator not too long ago, and a poignant story regarding a teachable moment between he and his son.  The point of his story was to say that God will speak through people and bring us messages of how we can best serve Him.  It is just as improbable to me that I would have ended up in the pulpit of Bethel AME church.  The thing is, I got the message, and it is the same message that I am told Dr. King left us with..."At some point silence becomes betrayal".  Like I always say, "we need to be participating in our own salvation, or else we are most certainly being complicit in our own demise".

Posted via email from Reggie Smith 770 by SocialNetGate

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