Changing Attitudes on World AIDS Day

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Rev. Mike Wagenman thinks World AIDS Day has changed the way some university students in London, Ontario, think of Christians.

Wagenman, the Christian Reformed chaplain at the University of Western Ontario, set up the only faith-based display for the World AIDS Day campus event.

“I saw so many people that day where their entire assumption about Christianity changed,” Wagenman said. “I feel this day has opened many more doors to have more personal contact with people on campus.”

Wagenman invited Arianne Folkema of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee to talk about her experiences with Kenyan families with AIDS. Wagenman said about 100 students kept Folkema busy.

Students donated enough money to sponsor a family through CRWRC’s Free a Family program. And 60 letters were signed to deliver to Canada’s prime minister, asking for more AIDS funding for the Third World.

The campus chaplain was excited to participate and raise awareness about the AIDS crisis in the Third World. But Wagenman was also thrilled with the way the day may have changed people’s attitudes.

“I get the feeling that some people think Christians are only interested in taking care of our own. This was an incredible way to show we care and are willing to take our own time and resources to get involved,” said Wagenman.

“Our message all day was that God’s love embraces all, even people with AIDS. Maybe especially people with AIDS.”

About the Author

Heather Wright is a freelance writer from Petrolia, Ontario.

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