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Powerful Message of Hope Dispels Stigma of Aids

One of the world’s most powerful lessons about preventing the spread of Aids is being taught in South
Africa in language that South Africans can understand. By speaking simply and directly to people in their own language, Mr Johan Zerwick of the North-West University is bringing home the message that there is hope in the battle against HIV/Aids. By translating God’s answer to Aids into Afrikaans and Setswana, he has been able to reach thousands of people in Southern Africa who might otherwise have missed this message of hope because of language barriers.

God’s answer to Aids is a presentation developed by Dr Bruce Wilkinson, former leader of the global Christian initiative Walk Thru the Bible, which has trained over 30 000 indigenous leaders in 83 countries to conduct life skills courses. One of those leaders is the NWU’s Mr Zerwick, a lecturer and language practitioner in African Languages on the Potchefstroom Campus. He is an accredited WorldTeacher and has been presenting God’s answer to Aids as a non-profit project since 2002.

How the project works

On request, Mr Zerwick travels to communities and companies throughout Southern Africa to present workshops lasting between two hours and six hours, depending on the time available.

As this is a not-for-profit initiative, there is no workshop fee and Zerwick typically asks the hosts only to cover his petrol and printing costs.

The workshop consists of six sections, as follows:

• Truth: What is Aids? This section deals with the Aids virus, how it is contracted (and, just as importantly,
not contracted), how to confirm your HIV/Aids status and what happens if a person contracts Aids.
• Forgiveness: This part of the workshop covers the importance of forgiveness and mercy if a person has
infected someone with Aids or been infected by someone.
• Marriage: Sexual behaviour before and after marriage is the focus of this section.
• Protection: This section covers the ways that people can use to protect themselves against Aids,
expressed from a Christian viewpoint.
• Hope: This section assists people who are living with Aids.
• Compassion: Confronting the stigma of the disease is the focus of this section, which encourages
compassion for those who have the disease.

It is a highly interactive experience and includes images of real people suffering from Aids, ensuring that the audience is left in no doubt about the damage the disease can do. “With a disease such as Aids, it is important to be straightforward and call a spade a spade,” says Mr Zerwick, who also uses humour to attract and keep the audience’s attention.
Since starting to present God’s answer to Aids as a registered WorldTeacher, Mr Zerwick has received two awards from Walk Thru the Bible for having the most attendees at the seminars presented in one year.

The impact of the project

Since 2002, more than 40 000 people in South Africa and Botswana have heard the message about God’s answer to Aids in seminars presented by Mr Zerwick. They range from farm workers and domestic helpers to pastors, church workers and employees of a wide range of companies and government agencies.  An important part of each workshop is that participants are asked to set goals for themselves to become personally involved in the fight against Aids. They are also given practical guidance on how they can help
stop the spread of HIV/Aids, such as by learning the basics of home-based care or helping their church to devise an action plan for people in need.
According to Mr Zerwick what makes a worth the effort is the statement by one of the old ladies attending a seminar saying in tears: “If somebody had taught me this information in the language I understood, I would not already have buried three of my children because of this disease.”


For more information on this course and other Walk Thru the Bible Curriculum, click HERE or phone us at 011-782 4222

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