ARVs are God’s miracle: Sanyangore
10 November 2016
POPULAR pastor Paul Sanyangore said he is ready to work with health stakeholders in the fight against HIV adding that the latter could use the church as a platform to engage congregants on HIV programmes.
The agile pastor said it was key that the two work together as the country seeks to end AIDS arguing that people believed their pastors more hence the need for all those in HIV programming to work with the church.
Sanyangore opened up to H-Metro at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals where he had visited a sick congregant.
His sentiments come in the wake of reports that some people living with HIV were defaulting treatment after persuasion by ‘pastors’ that they have been healed hence surrendering their medication.
“I believe in medication and I think as pastors we have a role to play in the fight against HIV.
“We also need to be responsible as pastors and ensure that we tell the congregants the truth.
“Medicines are a gift from God, hence we should allow health workers to do their job as we deal with the spiritual side.
“Ini ndinoita nezvemweya and it’s not my business to persuade followers to stop taking their medication.
“The one who made that prescription, is the same person who has the right to tell his or her patient to stop taking medication,” he said.
Sanyangore said it was through God’s power that ARVs were made adding that God was still working his miracles through ARVS.
“God determines when and how he wants to heal you so as pastors let us stop persuading followers to default their treatment.”
He argued that the synergies will help in unpacking HIV so that faith leaders understand HIV and in turn convey the correct message to the people.
“HIV programmers should work with the church in unpacking HIV so that we also understand the subject.
I understand that treatment can suppress the virus to undetectable levels yet we tell people that they have been cured of HIV because we don’t understand all this.
“We can end AIDS if we work together rather than fight.
“I know the church has been blamed for most of the default cases, church leaders should understand that it is not their place to make people stop treatment.
“There is nothing wrong with taking medication, medicines are a gift God and it is time church leaders stop manipulating the church.
“Redu basa kufudza mweya, regai vanorapa nyama vaite basa ravo.” Sanyangore said he also consulted a doctor from time to time:
“My doctor recently told me that I should avoid standing for a long time after I complained of a back ache.
“He even told me to take honey for my voice considering that I speak most of the time,” he said contrary to what people think that pastors do not seek health care services.
“Right now I’m here visiting one of my children who suffered some burns.
“It is the duty of the doctor to administer medicines that heal the burns and I cannot interfere with the process but only pray for my child to lessen the pain,” he said. The preacher said it is high time that the church spread gospel that is relevant to society.
“This is the time to tell the gospel that is relevant to the people.
“Let us not pretend that issues such as HIV do not exist. It is real and people should have the knowledge.
“I’m a pastor and if I do not educate my people they will perish and again I will be the one called to minister at their funeral. So let me avoid it,” he said.
Sanyangore once torched a storm amid reports that he had prayed for condoms at his church. Commenting on the issue, he said he was misunderstood arguing that he appreciates very well the role of a condom.
“The issue of condoms was misunderstood by many. Some thought by praying for the condoms it was a way of enhancing something but that was not so and it was blown out of proportion.
“I told my congregant that there was nothing wrong in using condoms considering the time that she had been separated from her husband. Who knows what the husband had been doing wherever he was?
“Should I have just kept quiet and put my daughter at risk? No and I had to say something. To me, there is nothing wrong for people in marriage to use condoms,” he said.
“I know many pastors believe the condom is for prostitution but I believe it is God who made the invention of the condom possible.
“Imagine the husband goes out and does what he does and brings an STI to unsuspecting wife. It is the wife that suffers, so God so it fit for her to be protected,” he said.
The preacher also urged the youths to abstain.
“My message to the youths is please abstain. Get tested before marriage and plan your future together,” he said.
Health and Parliamentary Portfolio Committee chairperson, Dr Ruth Labode recently underscored the need for church leader’s engagement by health stakeholders arguing that they were ‘super powers’ who had an influence in their communities.
Dr Labode said given the role that the church played in the society, there was need to lure them into understanding issues of HIV prevention, treatment and care without attacking them.
“Let us find the language to find common ground rather than fight and attack them. We already know that these churches are attracting crowds and if we attack what they believe in without any engagement, we will never win the war.
“Target the church leaders for all those churches that believe in faith healing, work with them and let them convey the message to their congregants.
Use the pastors to take the message of adherence to their churches without attacking them.
“We can’t deny that people believe the pastor more than the doctor, so why not use the pastor in the fight against HIV, if we are not careful then the 90-90-90 target will remain a pipe dream considering how influential these churches are,” she said.
The concept of faith healing has come under scrutiny with reports that it has had serious consequences for the national strategic response as it is running in contrary to national HIV prevention, treatment and other care services and commitment to end AIDS by 2030.
Stories about people failing to adhere to treatment or even stopping/surrendering their ARVs to faith healers are common with the latter claiming to cure HIV.