Feature

Precious Is Their Blood

A family with HIV realizes Christ’s love for them

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The first time I met Tip* she was near death, lying in a bed, a new arrival at our mother-baby unit. At five feet seven inches tall and 59 pounds, she was no more than a skeleton and too weak to sit up or speak.

In the corner of her room was a small cot holding Jessica, her three-month-old daughter. In a land of brown-skinned people, Jessica was starkly white with light brown hair. Born with a double cleft palate, she now weighed just four and a half pounds. Both mother and baby were dying of AIDS.

Love through Despair

Tip was abandoned at birth and raised by her great-grandmother. She eventually found her way into a sad life of prostitution and drug and alcohol abuse. At only 18 years of age she was diagnosed as being HIV positive.

In 1998, a brown-skinned American named Christopher visited Thailand and met Tip in a bar. He fell deeply in love with her, and they soon married. Over the next five years, Chris alternated between time with his wife in Thailand and working at his business in the United States.

In 2002, Tip discovered she was pregnant and told Chris by phone “not to worry” because she would “take care of it.” What Tip did not tell Chris was that she had been raped by an American while with friends at a bar. More importantly, she had never told her husband that she was HIV positive.

Her abortion failed, and when Chris returned to Thailand he found his wife still pregnant. He was present at Jessica’s birth. Despite the baby’s facial deformity, he took joy in his tiny new ruddy-faced daughter. He returned to the United States a short time after her birth.

A few months later, Chris received a call from one of Tip’s distant relatives. All Chris could understand was that Tip was seriously ill, so he immediately flew to Thailand. As he entered the hospital room, one look told him the heartbreaking story. His beautiful wife lay emaciated and dying, and the tiny, white-skinned baby at her bedside was obviously not his child.

He quietly requested a DNA test, which confirmed his suspicion. A close friend confided in him that both Tip and Jessica had AIDS. He underwent a blood test and discovered that he, too, was now HIV positive. Despite these shocking, life-altering revelations, Chris’s love for Tip did not waver. He never showed anger or pain. He only wanted to love and comfort Tip.

Rescued

Because Tip’s family rejected her, Chris spent the next two months and most of his savings caring for Tip and Jessica at the best hospital in the city. However, he needed to return to the United States to wrap up his business affairs. Just when he thought he had nowhere to turn, someone told him about a home that cared for mothers and children dying of AIDS. He called and spoke with Avis Rideout, director of Agape Home.

At the hospital, Rideout took in the sight of the little family and was overwhelmed with grief and God’s love for them. She invited Tip and Jessica to come to Agape Home. Rideout wept with Chris. “Your wife and child are dying. There is no future for you,” she said. She shared the gospel with Chris, challenging him to reconsider how he would spend the rest of his life. Then she prayed for his family.

Out of the Valley

While he was in the United States, Chris called Tip every day. Although she was too weak to speak, she listened as he daily reminded her of his love for her and assured her of his return as soon as he could sell his business. During this period, a coworker invited Chris to church.

The pastor’s message that day was directed at “those in the valley of despair.” It was as if God were speaking directly to Chris’s heart. Having diseased blood, Chris understood perhaps more clearly than others his need for the pure blood of Christ to cleanse him from his sins. He became a child of God that day. As a friend discipled him, Chris read his devotional Bible and began to soak up the truth of Christ’s redemption.

Meanwhile, after three months at Agape, Tip showed no improvement despite taking ARV drugs. When she drifted off to sleep, she would awake screaming—frightened and exhausted from horrific nightmares. She lay in bed, staring at the wall and refusing to hold or even look at her baby. One of our Thai nannies spent hours each day at her bedside, reading Scripture, encouraging and praying for her. Tip showed no interest.

One day Rideout entered Tip’s room. “I have to make a trip to Canada,” said Rideout. “I may never see you again. Please, promise me today that you’ll accept Christ, and we will meet again—if not here, then in heaven.” Rideout asked Tip about a dark presence the director sensed in the room. Tip pointed to a drawer in her bedside table. It was filled with amulets and charms. Rideout asked permission to remove them, guaranteeing Tip that once they were gone Tip would begin to improve. That day, Tip prayed and invited Christ into her heart. Rideout threw all the fetishes into the river.

Tip’s physical, emotional and spiritual improvement was dramatic! Within days she reached for Jessica, looked into her face and began to love her. Tip steadily gained weight.

Living Proof

Today, Tip weighs a healthy 125 pounds and can be seen each morning delivering Jessica to Agape’s preschool. Jessica is a happy, bright three year old with a surgically repaired double cleft palate. Chris has a good job in the area and volunteers as a part-time accountant at Agape. All are doing well on the ARV medications.

The change in Chris’s life is no less dramatic. Not only has he accepted Jessica as his own flesh and blood, but he also has embraced Pim, Tip’s nine-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.

“This is the family God wanted me to have,” said Chris. “We are living proof of His love and care. It was worth becoming HIV positive for me to experience the love of Christ that I’ve known since the day I gave my life to Him.” Tip feels the same way.

Psalm 72:12–14 states: “For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.”

*Names changed to protect identities.

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