by Robert Brow   (web site - www.brow.on.ca)

One of the privileges of pastoral visiting is that you find yourself suddenly let into the very heart of a family. Katie was the daughter of a couple we visited in Paphos. She was infected at the age of seventeen at the University of Minnesota and died ten years later. This is taken from what Jim Klobuchar wrote about her before Katie died.

She loved ancient art. She was drawn to archaeology.. When Katie painted her strokes were strong and declarative. When she walked by the sea on the island of Cyprus she imagined the echoes of Paul who had preached and converted the people there.

The concluding inhumanity of AIDS is that it condemns many to be remembered for how they died and not for who and what they were. It breaks your heart to hear someone say, "There's Katie. She's got you-know-what."

She gave her testimony with clarity and without embarrassment. "I wasn't promiscuous, but it is easy to be talked into a situation. You don't have the confidence to stand up and demand what is best for you." Even before she had been diagnosed several years later, she knew the young man was the wrong person for her, and at the time he didn't know he had AIDS.

Often she was brave and cared deeply for the needs of others. But sometimes the pain got to her. "I'm human. I have needs and wants. I'm me, Katie, with a beautiful family and broken hopes . . . Fighting AIDS for five years turned into my life work. The mental torture was the worst, knowing the end was coming, not knowing how, and finally a few weeks ago I had a choice of more treatment, and I didn't want it." Somebody at the hospital who knew her and knew medicine said, "Don't put yourself through any more." Katie will die in a few days or a week or two.



In the Old Testament the word wrath simply means bad consequences here on earth. It never means eternal damnation. In that sense the prophets could speak of an invasion, or a drought, or plague, as examples of the wrath of God. The American civil war could be described as "trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored." But in our day the expression 'the wrath of God' has been so misused by preachers that it may be too hard to retrieve it.

But the plain fact is that God has made a world in which bad consequences occur. In some cases, as with Job, we don't yet know the cause. In other situations like Katie we are careless. And some people cause massive bad consequences to occur in their families and the world around them. The result is that we are born into a world of wrath consequences, and only God can save us.

Medical science has slowly unravelled some of the causes of disease. The Black Death (1347-50) was the Bubonic plague caused by lice. Flu shots could prevent the Influenza epidemic of 1918 when millions died. And these days most people know what causes AIDS and the terrible consequences that follow.

Right now many Christians, together with others, are claiming compensation for getting AIDS from infected blood transfusions. The Jehovah's witnesses say such people are to blame because they shouldn't be getting blood transfusions anyway. But whatever the causes and consequences Jesus said "Judge not" which means it is immoral for Christians to point fingers. That suggests that "You are getting what you deserve" is a totally satanic observation. None of us deserve life, forgiveness, grace, or the joys of heaven.

At the same time we need to be watchful as evil forces and evil persons seek to trip us up. We also pray for those with AIDS and their family and friends who also suffer a huge amount of pain.. And it is important that some of us be involved in the research and treatment needed to eradicate TB, diphtheria, malaria, cancer, and in due course the scourge of AIDS.

Meanwhile it is encouraging that large numbers of Christians lovingly work with the dying, and AIDS patients in particular. And they can say "Whatever the causes of AIDS in your case, God loves you, I love you, and for both you and I God has eternal purposes in mind."

(Posted on the Canadian Evangelical Theological Association List, Nov 8, 98)

       model theology home | essays and articles | books | sermons | letters to surfers | comments