The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) has 5 million members. It is one of the largest Lutheran churches in the world. “Mekane Yesus” means “the dwelling place of Jesus.” EECMY ministries focus on both evangelism and development/social services to meet the needs of Ethiopia’s people.
Over 40 percent of Ethiopia’s total population lives below the poverty line, and AIDS exacerbates the challenges of chronic poverty and famine in the country. Ethiopia’s population of people living with HIV or AIDS is among the world’s largest.
In its ministries of development and social services, the EECMY integrates HIV and AIDS control and prevention efforts into its work to feed the hungry and provide health care services, child and youth programs, special schools for the physically challenged, educational activities, water development programs, and rehabilitative rural development programs.
The ELCA partners with EECMY and other Lutheran partners in Ethiopia in health and wellness ministries to improve maternal and child health and to care for children orphaned by AIDS in Ethiopia. Together, we provide health clinics in underserved areas, train health professionals, offer health education to women’s groups, help communities develop agriculture, clean water, and microcredit associations, provide HIV testing, and provide hundreds of vulnerable children with food, housing, education, counseling, and vocational training.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) has over 2.5 million members. The Dioceses of the ELCT own and operate an extensive health care system including 21 hospitals and numerous clinics and rural health centers. ELCT provides more than 15% of the health care services delivered in Tanzania. The ELCT is a recognized leader in community-based HIV/AIDS education and prevention, care for children orphaned by AIDS, and hospice and palliative care.
The ELCA and the ELCT work together to provide basic health care to underserved populations, to train pastors in skills and strategy specific to ministry with people affected by AIDS, and to support the ministries of two medical missionaries: Dr. Mark Jacobsen and Dr. Kris Hartwig. Dr. Jacobsen works to extend health care services to Maasai people through the Arusha diocese hospital and clinic network. A major focus of the Maasai health project is outreach to pregnant women to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child. Dr. Hartwig developed a successful pilot program at Selian Hospital to provide palliative care (hospice) for people diagnosed with AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses. He is now working to expand the program to all of the ELCT hospitals.
HIV and AIDS education is also a priority for other key ELCA partners in Tanzania, such as Tanganyika Christian Refugee Service (TCRS) and Lutheran World Relief. By incorporating HIV awareness and prevention education into community empowerment and economic development programs, these ministries work to reduce stigma, encourage HIV testing, and reduce new infections. They also develop community-based agriculture, clean water, and microcredit projects — poverty reduction strategies which are critical in reducing the spread of HIV.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (South Africa, Botswana, and Swaziland) is 700,000 members strong. The ELCSA is involved in mission, education and development activities with congregations in both rural and urban areas. The church ministers through a variety of community outreach programs including soup kitchens and home-based care groups for those infected and affected by HIV & AIDS, as well as rural sustainable development projects that help communities reduce poverty by improving food production, access to clean water, and developing microcredit programs.
The ELCA works with ELCSA to support the work described above and to expand several ministries focused on increasing awareness within the church regarding HIV and AIDS. Diakonia AIDS Ministry is one such project; it works to equip pastors and lay leaders for service as counselors and care-givers for people living with HIV and AIDS while also coordinating HIV and AIDS support groups, care for orphans, and vocational training for people affected by HIV and AIDS.
In Africa the ELCA also supports HIV and AIDS ministry in Burundi, Kenya, Madagascar, Uganda, Angola, Mozambique, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Chad, Liberia, Mauritania, Nigeria, and Senegal. For more information on HIV and AIDS ministries in Africa please contact ELCA World Hunger at firstname.lastname@example.org.