Health Horizons invited an inspirational speaker to its 8th annual Prayer Breakfast. Dr. Jimmy Allen has first hand experience with HIV/AIDS and knows the impact it has on a family.
The former President of the Southern Baptist Convention spoke of the struggles and discoveries of his family as a transfusion related HIV virus cased the death of his two grandsons and their mother, a pastor's wife and nurse. The virus has destroyed the lives of four of his family of eight, including another son who is gay. The call of the churches to banish fears and be supportive to the victims of HIV/AIDS is coupled with the examination of lessons from grief and dying.
"I found the devastation of AIDS doesn't just happen in the life of the patient. It happens in the circle of the family. It happens in the silence of the community. It happens in the isolation of fear," said Allen.
A tearful Allen shared how morticians refused to handle the body of his youngest grandson who died at age 1. The parents had to prepare the body.
"We had America's youngest, first untouchable."
The family had trouble educating their oldest son. Churches wouldn't let him attend Sunday School. Few friends came around. They learned to take him to McDonald's playgrounds to be with playmates.
"The family concocted a secret. We told those who only had to know," said Allen. The pastor later wrote a book, "Burden of A Secret"--"A Story of Truth and Mercy in a Family Faced with AIDS".
Dr. Allen encourages people to seize the moment to help those with AIDS. He prays that we have the courage of conviction and the compassion of Christ to reach out and help.