By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew
The concern of HIV/AIDS around the world takes a front seat Dec. 1 for World AIDS Day. In the 20-plus years since the first commemoration, South Africa had made strides to help its men, women, and children. While there is work that still needs to be done, deaths from HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa have declined. In 2011, 1.2 million South Africans died from the disease, down 32 percent from 2010, according to the UNAIDS report. In addition, the reports explain 5.6 million people in South Africa are living with HIV/AIDS.
A social conscience from people within and outside of South Africa is needed to help South Africans through this catastrophe. Shirley Tucker, author of the award-winning novel “Diamonds in the Dust,” uses her storytelling ability and faith in God to present a story of perseverance, hope, amid the storm. The South African author tells the story of Ida Morgan, a woman who experience the unthinkable when her husband is murdered. Ida’s road to healing and wholeness is paved by “diamonds in the dust.” Ida begins to question God and wonder how He could allow the wicked to gain a victory. In the end, Ida sees it is not God’s way of punishing people, it is His way of placing Ida in a role to help defenseless people in society, including children who are afflicted with AIDS.
As a backdrop to the powerful novel is the realism Tucker uses to tell “Diamonds in the Dust.” The novel is the winner of the 2011 inaugural Athanatos Christian Ministries Christian Novel Contest and it is worthy of the award. The author allows the reader to see what life is like in South Africa, such as Ida coming in contact with AIDS sufferers, orphans, and homeless people in her country. Ironically, Tucker and her husband, Mark, are founders of Phakamani Foundation to distribute micro-loans to enterprising, but poor, women in South Africa.
Top reviews for the novel include Kirkus, where a reviewer concludes Tucker’s “Diamonds in the Dust” beholds “an addictive storyline that pulls at the reader’s social conscience and sense of justice, delivered in an honest, humane manner.” Furthermore, the Dove Foundation awarded Tucker’s “must read” novel the highest ranking a piece can receive, five Doves.
On this World AIDS Day 2012 (and everyday), it is important for those who confess His to listen to God’s divine call and help those in society who cannot help themselves. As it is said in Psalm 34:22, “The Lord redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him” (NIV). Just as Ida found, forsaking our comforts and doing what is best in the name of God benefits everyone.