This sickness will not lead to death...your brother will rise again!
- Jesus to Lazarus of Bethany’s sisters (John 11)
About the film
The Lazarus Effect film by (RED), HBO, and Anonymous Content is a 30-minute documentary directed by Lance Bangs and executive produced by Spike Jonze. The film follows the stories of four people living with HIV whose lives were transformed by gaining access to antiretroviral treatment. In as few as 40 days, people suffering from AIDS can undergo a remarkable transformation thanks to access to treatment that now costs around 40 cents a day.
In the global struggle with HIV and AIDS, the advent of life-saving antiretroviral drug therapy has meant that an HIV-positive diagnosis is no longer a death sentence. HIV-positive people can live long and productive lives. The drugs also help to prevent babies from being born HIV-positive. Visit the website.
Why host a The Lazarus Effect reflection and prayer service?
The ELCA is part of the hopeful story told in The Lazarus Effect film. Our voices, lifted up in advocacy through efforts led by the ELCA Washington Office and the ONE Campaign, helped to win the large-scale investments in public health that have made these stories of healing possible all over the globe. Our ELCA World Hunger gifts are at work in dozens of projects in sub-Saharan Africa and world wide, supporting HIV clinics, caring for orphaned children, combating stigma and discrimination, investing in HIV prevention education, and empowering communities devastated by the dual challenges of poverty and disease.
Why focus on HIV and AIDS?
AIDS has claimed the lives of more than 25 million people worldwide and has left millions of children as orphans. However, amid the sobering realities of HIV and AIDS, there is cause for great hope.
In recent years, we have seen real progress in efforts to:
- Halt the spread of HIV through effective prevention, treatment, and care;
- Eliminate the stigma and discrimination experienced by those who are HIV-positive;
- Reduce the conditions of poverty that contribute to the spread of HIV
Yet there is still much to be done. Millions of people still lack access to treatment. Thousands of children are still born HIV-positive each day, even though transmission of the virus from mother to child is easily preventable if the mother has access to treatment.
About the ONE Campaign
ONE is a grassroots campaign and advocacy organization backed by more than 2 million people who are committed to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.
The ELCA collaborates with ONE to engage ELCA members in advocacy and action. ELCA congregations can become “ONE Lutheran” congregations by taking part in related advocacy efforts, supporting ELCA World Hunger, and helping congregation members learn more about the issues. More information at ONE Lutheran Campaign.
Sample Agenda for Screening and Discussion
- Welcome, Opening Prayer, and Introduction (10 minutes)
- Screening The Lazarus Effect (30 minutes)
- Discussion and Invitation to Action (20–45 minutes)
- Closing Prayer (2 min) or Evening Vespers (30 min) (Check out the ELCA worship resources for “Lazarus Sunday" for prayers and litanies you could adapt for Evening Vespers.)
After screening the film and having an open dialogue, we hope that participants will be able to:
- Name some of the social impacts of the AIDS pandemic in Africa (e.g. widespread loss of life, orphaned children, social stigma, cycle of poverty and serious illness, economic devastation, etc.)
- Name some of the programs that are making a difference (ELCA World Hunger, ELCA Advocacy, Global Fund/PEPFAR, HIV testing and treatment clinics, community health promoters/organizers, support groups, etc.)
- Learn about how the ELCA makes a difference in the lives of communities impacted by HIV and AIDS and how individuals/congregations can be more involved.
Sample Introduction to the Session
Welcome and thank you for joining us. During our time together, we will be screening a powerful documentary called The Lazarus Effect. This film is about great hope amid the devastation of the HIV and AIDS pandemic in Africa.
HIV is not a death sentence. With proper treatment people can live long and productive lives. As you’ll see, even people who become very sick can make an amazing recovery.
This film is also a call to action. People’s access to life-saving treatment depends in large part on funding from the United States and other major public and private sector donors. We need to make sure our leaders know we support this funding and want to see it continue.
We’re showing this film here today because our church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, along with Lutherans all around the world, have been very active in HIV and AIDS ministries, especially in Africa. We support programs that care for children orphaned by AIDS and provide support groups, hospice care, and HIV-prevention education. Now that HIV treatment is growing in its availability in Africa, the clinics and programs we support are preventing babies from being born HIV-positive and keeping people alive to care for their children and contribute to their communities. I hope seeing this film inspires you to get involved in supporting these ministries.
After the film, we’ll have some time to talk about what each of us can do to make a difference. For now, let’s watch the film.
Suggested Discussion Questions
- What is something new you learned by watching the film? What surprised you?
- Medicine is just one component to the response to HIV and AIDS. What other resources did you observe as being important in the lives of the four HIV-positive persons profiled in this film?
- What lessons might we learn from the communities featured in the film for how we respond to HIV and AIDS in our local community?
- What is our church (youth group, small group) doing to respond to HIV and AIDS now?
- What more can we do? What gifts does our church have to offer in response to HIV and AIDS?
Get Involved! Action Steps
Donate to the ELCA World Hunger HIV and AIDS fund
ELCA World Hunger is working with dozens of partners worldwide to bring health care to underserved communities, develop HIV-prevention programs, care for orphaned children, advocate for global health programs, and overcome discrimination against people affected by HIV and AIDS. More information at the ELCA Strategy on HIV and AIDS.
Become a ONE Lutheran Congregation
Our denomination has a special connection with the meaningful work of the ONE campaign. Learn more and become actively involved in the advocacy effort of your church with and through the ONE Campaign. More information at ONE Lutheran Campaign.
Share your story and volunteer!
Send your success story to firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com and share what your local faith group is doing to raise awareness and take action in the fight against extreme poverty. Sign up for action alerts and updates from:
ELCA World Hunger
ELCA Washington Office (e-Advocacy Network)
- ELCA World Hunger Health Care brochure
Highlights ELCA World Hunger work around malaria, HIV and AIDS, clean water, child and maternal health, and nutrition. Order online at www.elca.org/hunger/resources (login required) or call 800-638-3522, ext. 2580. Item #ELCADS1023.
- HIV and AIDS fund offering envelopes
Order online at www.elca.org/hunger/resources (login required) or call 800-638-3522, ext. 2580. Item #ELCADS1022.
- ELCA World Hunger HIV and AIDS fund handout
Describes our HIV and AIDS work in more detail and highlights four key ministries in Africa. Download and print.
- Bulletin inserts – stories from ELCA World Hunger’s HIV and AIDS work
Meet Virginia (community health outreach program in Mozambique)
Meet Fatima (women’s shelter, clinic, and quilting program in Nigeria)
· ELCA e-Advocacy Network
By signing up at www.elca.org/advocacy, ELCA members will receive timely alerts on a broad range of social justice issues, including the U.S. government’s response to the HIV pandemic at home and abroad. These alerts help ELCA members engage in effective advocacy actions through letters, phone calls, meetings, conferences and lobby days.
- ELCA “Lazarus Sunday” worship resources
These worship resources (includes Litany, Prayers, Anointing, Sermon Starters) may be used on April 10, 2011 (when the story of the raising of Lazarus appears in the lectionary readings) or may be easily adapted for use on other Sundays and with other Biblical readings. Because every Sunday of the church year is a celebration of Christ’s resurrection, portions of these resources may be used on any Sunday or adapted for use on other occasions like World AIDS day (December 1). More.
Bwalya Liteta (1998-2010)
We are very sorry to announce that Bwalya Liteta, who was featured in The Lazarus Effect
film passed away on August 14th at the age of 12. She had been battling complications from AIDS and ultimately died from heart failure. Bwalya was an HIV positive child who had lost both her parents. Nearly half a million children will be born with HIV this year but with increased investments and the right policies, it’s possible that we could have a world where virtually no child is born with HIV by 2015. (RED), ONE and the Global Fund are focused on making this promise a reality. Bwalya’s death is a tragic loss for all those who knew and loved her. We send our deepest sympathy to her family and the medical staff who cared for her.