by Em Liddiard
Years back, the Botswana government designated March as the Month of Youth Against AIDS. One of the most popular national radio stations, Yarona FM, targets youth as its listening audience and supports the AIDS prevention work during March. One of our former YFC board members hosts a 3-hour Christian program each Sunday morning on the otherwise secular radio station.
Last year he asked if we at YFC would like to help lead a 40 minute live segment each Sunday in March. We agreed and it ended up being my responsibility (and privilege!) to plan and organize the programs. We even interviewed people on the streets to get their input. This year we were blessed to have the opening again each Sunday in March. Our main message was to encourage abstinence as the best prevention method in the fight against AIDS.
We shared factual information about the AIDS rate (24.1% of the Botswana adult population are infected with HIV) and how condoms have an average of 15% failure rate to prevent the spread of HIV. We shared about Uganda's success story, where the emphasis on abstinence and faithfulness led to a dramatic decline in their HIV rate during the 1990s (from 21% to 6% in one decade!).
For each Sunday, I organized two other guests to be in the studio with me, most of whom were other YFC staff or volunteers. One YFC volunteer couple is courting and shared their reasons for abstaining till marriage, as well as practical advice on how to keep pure. Over the final two weeks, two male university students from my church and two female YFC members were willing to take the bold step to acknowledge on national radio that they had been sexually active but have now chosen to wait until marriage. One courageously shared how she is living with HIV as a result. They all shared that it was not worth it to engage in premarital sex and were thus able to encourage the youth of the nation to abstain.
We shared the message of Christ's grace and forgiveness for sexual sin; that God can give you a fresh start. Several listeners responded via text message how much they needed to hear that message. Some had never listened to that program, and just happened to come across it that morning! Before we went on the air, we had prayed specifically for that exact thing--that God would guide the people who need to hear this message to the station, even if they never listen to Yarona FM!
We thank God for this amazing opportunity to speak truth over the airways reaching all across the nation. May the words continue to echo in the minds of the listeners to help turn the tide of HIV/AIDS and help them find hope and redemption in Christ!