Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ministering to a Friend with HIV/AIDS

When some one you know finds out they are HIV+ or have AIDS, you may feel inadequate to help.  But at this crisis moment of their lives, they need you more than ever.  Here are some suggested guidelines on how to encourage your friend:

Stop-by for a visit.  Make sure you ask if it is okay to come by.  He or She may not feel up to a visit that day, but you can always visit on another occasion.  Now is the time when your friendship can help keep loneliness and fear at a distance.

Make sure you do not avoid your friend.  Be there because it instills hope.  Be the friend, the loved one, you have always been, especially now when it is most important.

Express true love and compassion.  A simple squeeze of the hand or a genuine hug can let him or her know you really care.

Be a true friend.  Weep with your friend when he or she weeps.  Laugh when they laugh.  It is healthy to share these intimate experiences.

Don’t be afraid to share the joy of knowing Jesus with your friend, but don’t be overbearing.  Don’t demand immediate spiritual maturity, and full understanding.  Remember you didn’t get where you are in a day.  On some occasions, the best witness is a simple prayer or kindness.  Encourage them to know Jesus loves them.

Pray and know that God can heal, even the most difficult sickness.  It’s okay, when praying with your friend, to give him hope by asking God to manifest His healing power.  However, don’t make your friend feel guilty if healing doe not take place.  Jesus is the healer, and he died to make us whole/healthy.

Call and say you would like to bring a favorite meal.  Ask what time and day would best for your visit, and plan on spending the time to share the meal.

Invite your friend or family member to go for a walk or outing, but be sensitive to any limitations.

Offer to help answer any correspondence or help pay bills.

 Ask about their medications- are they taking them daily, without missing any dosages?  Do they need healthier food to take the pills with? 

Ask about their support system.  Who helps them when they are most in need? Do they have a Pastor, family member, neighbor who can help them quickly if something is urgent?  Listen for ways you can assist in the future.

Last but not least, help them start a support group.  – loving attentive friends and colleagues who will listen and help make recommendations on where they can get help. Many minds are need to solve the everyday problems of one living with HIV/AIDS.  You are making a big difference to care and ask questions.            

Call your friend and find out if anything is needed from the store.  Ask for a shopping list and make a delivery to you friend’s house.

Celebrate holidays, if possible, with your friend by decorating their home or hospital room.  Bring flowers or special treasures, or include your friend in your holiday festivities at home.

Stay in contact, when possible, with your friend’s family.  Family members are affected by HIV and AIDS too.  They may have unique needs along the way as well.

Go Shopping and bless your friend.  Buy them a special treat.  It doesn’t have to be expensive, just something thoughtful.

Be creative.  Bring books, periodicals, taped music, a video, some home baked-cookies or delicacies to share.

Don’t give-up!  You may feel inadequate or apprehensive, and it’s very natural to feel like you don’t have all the answers.  Just remember you don’t.  Ask God for wisdom.

It’s okay to ask ,”How are you feeling today?”  But remember be sensitive to whether or not your friend wants to discuss it.

Like everyone else, a person with AIDS can have good and bad days.  On the bad days treat your friend with extra care and compassion.

Can you drive?  Take your friend to the store, or to the bank, the physician, church, shopping, or a movie.  How about a ride to the beach or a park?
Share outside information.  Keep your friend up-to-date on mutual friends and other common interests.  Your friend may be tired of talking about symptoms, doctors, and treatment.

Discuss current events.  What’s new in the news?  Help keep your friend from feeling the world is passing them by.

Volunteer to do household chores-perhaps do the laundry, wash dishes, water plants, feed and walk the pets.  This may be appreciated more than you realize.  However, don’t do what you friend can do and wants to do for himself.

Be careful not to lecture anger at your friend if he or she seems to be handling the illness in a way that you think is inappropriate.  You may not understand what the feelings are and why certain choices are being made.

Do not confuse acceptance of the illness with defeat.  Sometimes acceptance may free your friend to accept God’s better plan for his or her life.

Don’t allow you friend to become isolated.  Let him or her know about support and prayer groups, Bible studies, and other practical services offered by church, ministry, and He Intends Victory.

Talk about the future with your friend…tomorrow, next week, and next year.  It is good to look toward the future without denying the reality of today.

Share with your pastor and Christian friends your own feelings of grief, helplessness, and inadequacy.  Getting the emotional and spiritual support you need will help you to “be there” for the person who has AIDS.

Confidentiality is of the utmost importance!  Don’t share anything with anyone you are not at liberty to share with.

And remember to pray again-for your friend or family member, for their family members, and that God would use you as a messenger of love and salvation through Jesus Christ!

 Read to you friend.  Sometimes, reading becomes difficult.  We suggest the Bible, and of course, our book, He Intends Victory.

Be prepared for your friends to get angry with you for “no reason,” although it seems it seems you have been there and done everything you could.  Remember, anger and frustration is often taken out on people most loved because it is safe and will be understood.

Thursday, April 2, 2015


COSTA MESA, CA (ANS) – Kathi Winter is an American business woman who has experienced both betrayal and forgiveness and now she is dedicating her life to helping others who, like herself, are HIV-positive.
She has traveled all over Africa and also to China on her unique mission to bring the message of Christ’s forgiveness especially to children and women who feel betrayed by those who gave them the deadly virus.
And she should know because she was given HIV by a man who she trusted.
Days after returning from another trip this time to Congo and Uganda, Kathi, who has been a successful business woman for 32 years and is a committed believer in Jesus Christ, agreed to share her dramatic story.
She began by saying, “I was born in Northern California to a white, upper middle-class family with strict religious beliefs and was taught reverence for God and to obey and never question a priest—or any man, for that matter,” said Kathi. “Our family life revolved around my father who spent most of his time at work training super-star athletes. My mother was a Sorbonne-educated alcoholic, a condition my father chose to ignore.
“For Easter of 1995, together we planned and then hosted a huge feeding program for the homeless that was attended by 5,000 people. We both awoke that morning with flu-like symptoms. By the end of the day, we dragged home and went to bed. I got up 24 hours later feeling tired, but relatively o.k. Fred couldn’t get out of bed but refused to let me call a doctor. Three weeks later, I drove him to Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, California, to be tested. The doctor asked me to wait outside while he examined Fred, and when he called me in for the verdict, he told me that Fred had AIDS and he was likely to die in three days.
Kathi said that HIV is a disease of brokenness – of the heart, the spirit, the mind, and the body.
“Christianity demands that we help heal the entire person, not just the physical part,” she said. “For the three years after my diagnosis and of caring for Fred, I sought help and, looked for a way to get over the pain in my heart. The only place I could find counseling was in a gay and lesbian center that had state funding to provide it without charge. My church pastor told me he was sorry to hear my bad news, but never again did he address the issue, and in his own way he asked me to stay quiet about it, not wanting to ‘upset the congregation.’
Kathi Winter says that being sick is not a sin and she said she learned this lesson from Kay Warren, wife of Rick Warren at Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, California, when she was asked to lead their HIV support group.
“I believe God sent me Evelyn Komuntale, a beautiful young woman from Africa, who prayed and cried with me for many months while I was healing,” said Kathi. “It really was she who taught me to trust God again. Also, through her, I came to know and love Africa. I now have traveled to Uganda over 12 times to help set into motion Outreach to Africa, a nonprofit corporation that ministers to, and supports children and families who have been infected with or are affected by the AIDS virus. Outreach to Africa holds major HIV Education Conferences in Uganda and is currently building schools and clinics throughout the country.
Another friend who has helped Kathi is Pastor Bruce Sonnenberg of the Village Church of Irvine, California, who is the President/Executive Director of He Intends Victory, a group within the church that sends educators to its world-wide chapters offering personal testimonies and teaching others that they need to know the Lord in order to survive.
Kathi went on to say, “Part of my purpose in telling my story is to expose the myths of HIV and give others an idea of my heart and how easy it was for a newly divorced, middle-class white woman who had had sexual relations with only a very few people to contract HIV. I used to believe that it was for someone else. I used to believe that nothing bad would ever happen to me. I used to believe that there would be no repercussions for my behavior. Now that I know I was wrong, my desire is to break into the false thinking that led me to the behavior that gave me the virus and trust that by telling my story, untold numbers of others will be enlightened and learn the truth.
Note: Kathi Winter’s story will be featured in the 14th edition of “He Intends Victory” which was written by Dan Wooding.

“Taking my cue from him, I began what became a course of denial that led to my looking at life through rose-colored glasses. The tragedy is how that caused me eventually to blindly make certain decisions that will affect me the rest of my life.”
Kathi went on to say, “Life is all about choices and, without blaming anyone but myself, given my family history, I wasn’t prepared to make the right ones. But what I have learned from my mistakes is what compels me to tell my story. We’ve all been told that ‘Love conquers all.’ Actually, truth does. And therein lies my mission: through education to help lead people to understand the truth about HIV/AIDS. In the mid ‘90s the disease was still very scary and people thought it was contagious. Even today, some look down on and have negative opinions about those who are living with the disease. Hosea 4:6, tells us, ‘We will perish but for lack of knowledge.’”

Kathi says that she always had a deep compassion for homeless people and some years ago, a Christmas; she went to a Homeless Shelter to bring dinner to needy families.

My Heart has always been with Homeless People 
“At first sight, I fell in love with a young man who was managing the Shelter when he testified that God had delivered him from ten years of drug addiction in one day,” she said. “He loved Jesus and had the light of God all over him. Shortly after our working together, he fell in love with me, too, and for seven months I was ecstatic. Even though he had been an I.V. drug user, Fred wouldn’t get tested for HIV. ‘I’m not sick and don’t need to,’ he told me. This should have been a red flag, but being prone to denial, it was all I needed to hear.
“But seven months later, when he moved temporarily to the East coast, I decided I should get tested. I did and was told I was negative. What a relief! In my mind, that meant that neither he nor I was infected with the dreaded disease. We kept in touch and two years later, he returned to Southern California and we resumed our relationship and our work with the homeless.
“He also told me that I needed to be tested, and when I explained that I had already done that, he said, ‘Just because you had one test doesn’t mean that you don’t need another.’ Two weeks later, I was given the diagnosis that I was HIV positive. The fear that overcame me was inexplicable. Not for myself, but because the man of my life was going to die, the very man who, after my two failed marriages, had taken my heart to a new level of trust. I forgot about my own health and hoped the prognosis for him was wrong. It turned out that it was and for the next three years I took care of Fred: that is how much I loved him.”
Kathi said that probably the worst day of her life was when Fred revealed to her that he had been told in 1989 that he was HIV positive, but that he didn’t accept it, and never believed he would give it to anyone.
“On hearing this, I was so angry I wanted to kill him,” she said. “True, he was the man who helped me accept the Lord and brought me into my wonderful relationship with Jesus. But now he turned out to be a man who didn’t protect or care for me more than he cared for his own desire to be with me. I felt totally abandoned by family and friends. But more than that, I felt that God had betrayed me. I asked myself, ‘Where is God in all this?’ Why hadn’t He protected me? Where was God when I was making poor judgments? Well, now I know He was with me all along, letting me have my free will and now letting me receive the consequences. God loves us that much that He gives us free will to do what we want. But we do reap what we sow.
“With God’s help, I found the proper spirit to listen to Fred’s apologies and take in his repentance, forgive him, and actually maintain a friendship with him. (It took me much longer to forgive myself). HIV could have ruined my love of God or turned me into a bitter, angry person. I thank God that it did not. But there is no question that the whole experience has kept me from trusting men again and it’s been thirteen years. I pray that I can one day trust them as I now trust God.”
HIV Is a Disease of Brokenness 
“Churches have been so quiet for the past 25 years about this disease, out of ignorance. It is not curable, but it is preventable. It is heartening that more and more public and private groups are taking the lead in sponsoring educational HIV/AIDS programs. And increasingly, some churches are joining them. But more are needed. This devastating disease will continue to spread and there is a major role for more churches to play. They must wake up and talk openly about sexually transmitted disease.
“The painful rejection that I felt from the church could have kept me from God for the rest of my life, but the Holy Spirit pulled me in deeper to depend more and more on His guidance to repair my broken spirit and mind. It is the role of our Christian Church to love and accept everyone, as Christ did. I know God loves me and accepts me. He is my best friend. His grace and mercy are what have pulled me through. And while my teaching is directed toward preventing women from making the mistakes that I did, I also pray that reading my story will lead those who are infected to recognize that their faith can see them through.”
Being Sick is Not a Sin 
“Kay helped me to understand that we must separate the label of ‘sinner’ from the disease and know that all God calls on us to do is love people who are sick and pray for their healing, not to judge them with labels,” she said. “Speaking as a ‘positive woman,’ I stand with Saddleback in declaring that the stigma and shame can be stopped at the church level. I knew that I had to fight the battle and win it—and fighting back against the disease and being a speaker for truth and God’s love is the mission to which I am devoting my life.”
In 2005, Kathi formed B.E. HIV Ministries, (Believing Education for HIV) to help local churches better understand the true facts about the virus, and through it she says she will continue her life’s mission throughout the world.
Outreach to Africa 
“I will be forever grateful to Evelyn for her continuing nonjudgmental support, as I am to Christ for his mercy and forgiving grace.
He Intends Victory 
“My real saving grace was finding the support group in He Intends Victory,” said Kathi. “This gave me great healing and love and closeness with other Christians living with the disease. I thank God for Pastor Bruce. I love this ministry and thank God from the bottom of my heart for the hope it has given me. What a blessing to finally find a God-centered support group where my pain and loneliness could be healed.”
Lessons to be learned 
“God prunes us to make us more in His image. The pruning hurts, the lessons are hard to learn and humbling, but the end result for me is that I am depending more on Him for everything. This is the answer—the way to get through having HIV. Trust God for everything.”
You can contact Kathi Winter by e-mail at kathi@globalinc.net. He Intends Victory’s website is http://www.heintendsvictory.com and Outreach to Africa’s website is:http://www.outreachtoafrica.org.


She’s traveled the world. She’s run her own business for over 30 years. She’s spoken to thousands about understanding HIV/AIDS.
Winter has traveled the world over addressing HIV/AIDS issue with thousands of people, using her personal experience with the disease.
Kathi Winter has been industrious and by many standards successful throughout the course of her lifetime. She’s also HIV positive.
Her personal experience gives her a reliable ground for talking to people about the issues surrounding HIV. She is a face of the disease, and she said her experience helps to humanize those who might otherwise suffer from a negative stigma.
“I think it adds a different dimension to [being infected with HIV]. It’s not so pathetic: in other words, people can live with it. People can survive,” Winter said. “It helps to be a testimony to what God can do and to success. You don’t have to just crawl in a hole and die.”
Winter spoke to the Lee community twice on Thursday, Sept. 27 — first at Dixon Center Chapel and then again that night to students in the Science and Math Complex. Winter addressed the stigmas and misconceptions related to HIV/AIDS, sharing her passion to see the church tackle the issue head-on.
“If there’s no fear, why would there be stigma?” Winter asked her audience that night. She seeks to resolve the issue and promote a better understanding all around of people who are infected.
Among the issues she addressed was the lack of understanding people have about how HIV is contracted, the difference between HIV and AIDS and the importance of testing. She also addressed how Christians need to respond to HIV/AIDS victims.
Winter shared the personal story of how she became infected from her now ex-fiance, who had lived with HIV for years before meeting her yet never revealed it. After finding out, she was isolated from friends and family. HIV has cost Winters thousands upon thousands of dollars in medication over the years as well, and she’s had to deal with the side effects of the drugs.
Yet Winter didn’t let that stop her from working hard. In addition to owning her own business, Winter is a board member of He Intends Victory and helped to found Outreach to Africa, but she doesn’t let it all go to her head.

“It’s really about the Lord for me. … It’s really about the fact that I have the joy of the Lord in my heart. And that gets me through,” Winter said.


Why do we experience shame when someone we love betrays us?  Often we want to hide the facts and we feel embarrassed when our betrayal story is told, like we should have known better.  We act as if it’s our fault it happened, and we believe deep down that we could have stopped it from happening.
Perhaps our reaction to betrayal has been one of anger, or a desire for revenge, or at least, a strong desire to get even.  We act like judges and condemn the betrayer to some form of hell by refusing to talk to or be with the person, all the while we are internalizing the pain.
Any of these responses ends up hurting us, not the betrayer. It’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. I had to learn this over the last 18 years of living with HIV.  I was diagnosed after taking my fiancĂ© to the hospital where he was told he would die in 3 days because is was living with AIDS.  Of course, I too was told it was time to get tested. This was in 1996 and convincing my doctor to even give me the test was a challenge. But I tested positive but my main concern was my fiancĂ©.
He was the man whom I had placed all my trust in, and loved beyond belief was going to die- that’s all I could think of. Until a friend suggested that maybe “D,” as we’ll call him here, should have experienced some symptoms; he should have known. I was encouraged to confront him and the truth really hurt.
He did know,  and had been diagnosed 9 years earlier while in a shelter but he denied having it, denied he could give it to me, and just went about life, ignoring his brief encounters with the symptoms of his diagnosis  Never did I see him sick, so this news was the biggest shock of my life. It was like someone hit me with a billy club- no way did I expect this man of God (a minister in his church), and the one who had brought me to know the Lord, would selfishly disregard my health. We had begun to have sex when we got engaged and he didn’t want me to put a stop to this pleasure.  
Now I had a whole new understanding of duplicity, and betrayal. And I had to admit that I too had been in denial. D was a former drug addict, who had used dirty needles.  And if my eyes had been open, if I had listened to my friends, I would not have had unprotected sex with him. Back in the mid 90’s, the stigma of being infected was very high and the education of a white middle class business lady was minimal. Plus I had put “D” on a pedestal. I was in idol worship thinking him a reformed addict who loved me beyond anything.  Now what was I going to do with this new understanding of his character that hadn’t been transformed? His love for God had not yet helped him to renew his mind to the point of being truthful, and to tell me he would have risked losing me. 
So I wanted to kill him, if the virus didn’t. I was outraged, crushed in my spirit, questioned God’s love and wished I could disappear. I was totally humbled, and I had to listen to God, and get real with my life. What happened next? God told me, through my own inner still small voice, that I was to help take care of him. What?  I was so full of bitterness, and anger which I learned is a worse sickness than living with HIV.  I love the quote: “Why should we forgive first?” So we can be free first.”
God knew I needed time to heal emotionally and spiritually so for the next three years on and off, I would help him survive. This gave us time to repent, to get Godly counsel, and to take responsibility for my part. I was the one who went to bed with him. I believed love covers a multitude of sin. I knew having sex before marriage wasn’t God’s plan.  But I denied these truths applied to our relationship.  I never saw this coming as a consequence to our sexual behavioral. But Hosea 4:6 says, “My people will perish for lack of knowledge.”  Times have changed and there is more open discussion about STD’s and viruses.  But to heal our hearts, we have to tell our stories and bring the secrets out of the closet. I don’t want others to go through the same lessons I’ve had to learn. 
I chose to become pro-active and became a speaker in Africa sharing  that we too in America,  live with HIV and have to walk in faith. And  God is not a respecter of persons and His grace is available for everyone, worldwide, no matter what our religion or race.  God has given me the ‘grace to forgive, ‘to let go of the victim role, and to move on. But the grace I received had nothing to do with what I did because grace is unmerited favor that God distributes, and there is no way to earn it. 
Jesus’s death on the cross gave us all salvation, a new life, and much more. He died for our “transgressions, and inequities,” and that means emotionally, he healed us by His stripes.  We don’t have to suffer, to repent over and over for the same thing.  He already took all our pain.  Do you believe this?  Jesus is the only answer we need to believe in His grace and raise up our faith to declare His Word over our lives.
It’s just that simple. I made it way more complicated in the past but fact is, today, I am free.  I have no bitterness in my heart, and little to no unforgiveness.  I am careful not to pick up offenses, and I am careful about whom I trust. God is totally in charge of my life and I thank Him daily, minute by minute for guiding me to find good friends, and reconcile with family, and for my ministry to women worldwide.
I have to remember that everyone experiences betrayal in life- everyone. And everyone has full access to God’s grace to forgive provided we meet him with our faith, Read Ephesians 2:7-9. No one can or should boast about our own efforts. But I am still working on letting go of a “works mentality.”  It is a lifelong process.
It’s healing to describe one’s journey.  After 18 years of being diagnosed I still have issues- but who doesn’t?  I don’t harbor unforgiveness and my old addiction to denial is dissolved.  My road to recovery is less encumbered every day. Praise God.