Aizawl City on Hills
It’s a city on hills in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains—-with a name that looks strange to western eyes. Aizawl.
Aizawl (pronounced “Is-all”) perches precariously in the steep Himalayan foothills of North East India. It’s the cultural center of the Mizo people. A Welsh missionary named William Williams first brought news of Christ to the Mizo people 125 years ago, and they have become predominately Christian. The Presbyterian Church of Mizoram celebrated the missionary arrival on the Sunday we were in Aizawl.
But, Aizawl also lies precariously close to the border with Myanmar (Burma) and to the influx of cheap heroin and more recently invented drugs that are tempting and enslaving their children. As a result of intravenous drug use AIDS has been spreading with tragic consequences. We heard of young people who inject heroin up to six times per day. This can result in horribly ulcerated bodies as in the photo below. We visited a young couple who are both HIV positive as a result of their drug use. We heard a church leader say he was thankful that Shalom was doing what the churches seem unable to do.
World Renew is privileged to help a courageous organization called Shalom to get hands-on involved with helping the teenagers of Aizawl to help their friends. With Shalom we are using funds raised in the EMBRACE AIDS campaign to enable the training of teenagers to use Facebook, WhatsApp, text messages and friendship coaching to help their friends face down the drug temptations and the potential enslavement and AIDS. Four HIV positive people, a medical doctor and a seminary graduate coordinator all work with the teen peer coaches. So, for me there is again wonder: at the way misuse of drugs destroys human dignity in the same place where a missionary miracle story happened, and at the way God’s kindness to humanity still shines through the people of SHALOM who have not turned their backs on the drug users and AIDs sufferers.