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Ministry helps fight AIDS epidemic in Africa

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

One local ministry seeks to change lives a world away, one life at a time.

About a year ago, McDonough Presbyterian Church expanded its humanitarianism to include its newest non-profit ministry, ChangeOneLife, Inc.

The non-profit was founded by local businessman, Mike Griffin, who said he was inspired several years ago to help improve health care conditions in Africa.

"I made a visit to Africa in 1995 on a church mission trip with another church," said Griffin, the president of ChangeOneLife. "Then, when I learned that about 6,000 people a day die of AIDS [Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome] in Africa, I felt compelled to initiate this ministry."

The ministry will host a fall banquet and fund-raiser on Nov. 15, in an effort to raise money to help support certain AIDS health and prevention projects in Kenya. Organizers of the banquet hope to raise between $7,000 and $10,000, buy selling tickets at $35 per person for up to 225 individuals, with about 60 percent of the proceeds going to the cause.

Individuals would be able to make donations to any of the three AIDS Alive Projects the ministry is pursuing. "We're trying to leverage resources," said Griffin, who is also the founder and chairman of Henry County's Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy.

The ChangeOneLife banquet and fund-raiser will support Mothers Milk, a special needs project to help provide infant formula to mothers who are HIV positive. Proceeds raised will also go toward the "Adolescent Girls Empowerment Retreats" sex education and AIDS prevention project.

Support will also go toward assisting two rural health clinics in Kenya with getting basic supplies and primary medical care to more than 20,000 people in the region.

"God has given McDonough Presbyterian Church a vision for bringing 'healing and hope' to AIDS-impacted people in Africa," said Dudley Rose, the church's head of staff and ChangeOneLife board chairman.

ChangeOneLife has coordinated with Presbyterian Missionaries in Kenya to host related projects. During its inaugural year (2007), the ministry raised more than $6,000 that went toward the purchase of 20,000 pill boxes for those afflicted with AIDS and needing to take related medications.

"It's not the greatest appeal, especially with so many needs here at home," Rose said. "But what has gotten our attention is that the AIDS epidemic in Kenya is so rampant. We have made contact with a ministry in Africa that is ministering to AIDS/HIV infected patients.

"We see the need to be even greater in Africa than it is in other parts of the world. And we want to make available healing resources in areas that are desperately in need."

The upcoming Nov. 15 banquet and fund-raiser will be held at McDonough Presbyterian Church, located at 427 McGarity Road in McDonough. The banquet will include Atlanta's Melissa Fay Greene, author of "There is No Me Without You," who will speak about one woman's struggle to save AIDS orphans in Ethiopia.

The National Black Presbyterian Caucus' Atlanta Chapter Community Choir will also perform. Those interested in making donations or participating in the banquet, should call the church at (770) 957-9890, or visit the church's ChangeOneLife ministry online.