The young minister’s video was made for her congregation at Hayling Island Baptist Church and, using a series of simple cardboard statements, movingly describes her feelings. As I write, it has had nearly 30,000 views on YouTube.
Treatment for the condition led to the loss of her hair, and she describes both positive and negative reactions people have had to her: ‘Some were amazing and supportive. Others were not. A few people said I was dangerous, I shouldn’t be near children, I was a risk...Seriously, do I look dangerous to you?’
She also details her reason for hope in the video, writing: ‘I know that I am God’s masterpiece and he hasn’t finished with me yet. Having HIV doesn’t mean that I can’t have the quality of life that Jesus offers.’
Recent stories involving the ‘gay cake’ ruling and Ireland’s vote for gay marriage are often used to make Christians look uncaring and bigoted. Too often believers make the news because of what they stand against rather than what they stand for. That’s why we need stories like Hayley’s to shine as a light on what the heart of Christian faith is really about.
Her video is honest, simple and gets to the crux of the matter. It’s a reminder of what our walk of Christian faith should look like to others. We don’t need to complicate it, embroider it, or dumb it down. We just need to tell people what’s going on in our life and what Jesus means to us.
As Justin Welby writes in his article on evangelism: ‘Jesus calls us to extend our hands and our hearts, to use our words and lives to echo his call to every person to follow him.’
Even in the midst of her personal battle, Hayley has extended her heart in an amazing way. In the age of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram there are so many opportunities for Christians everywhere to put something hopeful, life-affirming and Christ-centred into the newsfeeds of their friends, family and co-workers.
So go and share Hayley’s good news (and yours too) with your family, your colleagues, your Facebook friends, your Twitter followers...and to the ends of the earth.
Justin Brierley Senior Editor
Watch Hayley’s video at premierchristianity.com/blog