One of my favorite things I’ve done since I’ve been a missionary in Africa was getting to address a group of high school students on the topic of abstinence. A counselor from a local school contacted our ministry because a large number of their student body is HIV positive, and despite the faculty’s own attempt to encourage their students to choose abstinence, their message seemed to be falling on deaf ears.
I simply shared with these students why I’ve personally chosen abstinence. I think there are many benefits to abstinence, but I highlighted only my main reason to wait – I want to honor God with my life, and in honoring Him this way, I also honor myself. When we honor God with our lives, which includes our bodies, we recognize, acknowledge and establish our God-given value and self-worth. And we send a contradictory message to ourselves about our worth when we live a life contrary to that truth.
It became apparent to me that day that most of these students had never been told how much they mattered.
They welcomed my message. I’ll never forget how after our little assembly, students chased after us as we walked back to our car so they could hug us and thank us for sharing what we did. The school faculty also gave us an open invitation to return to their school, with the request to address their entire student body on our next visit.
The Botswana government has done a fairly good job of educating its people on how HIV is transmitted, but education alone hasn’t been enough to curb the spread of AIDS in their country. Botswana has one of the highest AIDS prevalence rates in the world. When people fail to recognize their value and self-worth, they will have little to no desire for prevention or change. People need to value their lives in order for a genuine desire for change to occur, and that is what we hope to accomplish through this program.
We’ve teamed up with Maria Ruggieri of Ti Adoro Jewelry who has designed bracelets for us that will be given to students who go through the program and make a commitment to abstinence. My hope is that this bracelet will serve as a powerful symbol of purity.
My message is to simply make the youth of Botswana aware that they have a choice, not only to avoid the further spreading of this terrible disease that ravages their country, but to become something more – the valuable person God created them to be. I want to challenge them to believe that they are not too young or obscure or unnoticeable to begin a new legacy for their future families, and ultimately, for the destiny of their country. We not only want to teach students the educational piece about AIDS, but challenge them to live a complete life of purity by giving them the tools to know how to honor God in every aspect of their life.
How You Can Help:
I am very excited about this project, and I would like to extend an opportunity for you to partner with us in spreading this message.
1) Pray. First and foremost, please pray for this project. I believe this project is a God-inspired idea and my prayer is that God will direct and bless this endeavor and use it to really make a difference.
2) Financial Support. I want to ask you to please consider making a donation to fund the manufacturing of the bracelets and additional costs needed to get this program off the ground. We are asking individuals to please consider a donation of $10 or more and groups/churches to raise $100 or more.
To make a donation, please send your gifts to:
Orchard Road Christian Center
8081 East Orchard Road, Suite 145
Greenwood Village, CO 80111
(Please make checks payable to ORCC with Mendoza – Abstinence in the memo area.)
3) Submit an idea for a name. We have yet to come up with a name, so if you have any ideas for a cool, fitting name for this project, I’d love to hear them! You can submit your suggestions by leaving a comment below or by emailing me at mel(at)melmendoza(dot)com.
I hope you will join me in bringing this message of hope to the youth of Botswana.
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Thank you in advance for your prayers and support!