Jars of Clay: On the Front Lines of the African AIDS Crisis
- Tuesday, February 25, 2003
So, for Haseltine, the purpose of the trip was simply to meet people - "to spend time with one person who was wrestling with AIDS and dealing with famine. I just really tried to put real stories and real people with all of the statistics that I knew."
Before leaving the United States, Haseltine prayed that his heart would be broken, that he would be humbled, and that he would fall in love with the people of Africa. He did. "It was ten days of falling in love. Ten days of deep, deep sorrow. Ten days of creating a vision for what the church in America can do to help."
Haseltine and the other missionaries delivered food, visited vocational training facilities and orphanages, and sat in on AIDS support group meetings. They visited orphan-run households and a mother dying of AIDS, as well as the Minister of Health for the country of Malawi.
"We did many things. We met children still young enough to dream big dreams and have a real desire for the future, children whose reality could not line up with their hopes. They would die of a disease they had acquired during birth," says Haseltine.
He describes the rooms where AIDS victims care for brothers and sisters further along in the devastating effects of the disease: "You could feel great hope, and great despair. In a community feeling the loss of almost every man between the age of 19 and 40, I sat in a church and heard the preacher speak about the deadly disease and about proper sexual practices for the first time.
"We watched the eyes of a broken community fill with hope and determination to not let this disease claim anymore lives. It was death and life. It was the Gospel meeting the guilty sinner. It was food for the hungry. It was rain on land that had not seen water for nearly eight months These were the sights and experiences of Africa for me," Haseltine concludes.
In addition to supporting African Leadership, World Vision and DATA, Jars of Clay has partnered with Amnesty International and Open Doors International with Brother Andrew. The band is also recognized for its continued compassion toward missions in China and the Zeldin Cancer Research Foundation.
"These are all things we do simply because of the gospel," Haseltine explains, "and it's been great because it's given us a heart that is beyond getting numbers of people to a show."
PHOTO of Dan Haseltine in Africa courtesy of David Braud.
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