December 18, 2015 | Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands | Royston Philbert/IAD Staff
The streets of Road Town on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands were painted red as Seventh-day Adventists marched in support of the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic. More than 250 young people from pathfinder and adventurer clubs across the island, together with church members, gathered at the Road Town Band Stand on Nov. 28, 2015, to send a message about the importance of preventing the spread of the HIV virus and AIDS in their communities.
Energized and charged with their mission, church members chanted slogans such as “Sex is great, but it can wait”, “Abstinence is the Key to Prevent HIV”, and “For AIDS to Stay Away You Should get Tested Today”.
Wearing red shirts and ribbons, young and old marchers held posters and banners with messages of abstinence.
The end of the march turned into a rally where church organizers and community leaders met to affirm the importance of getting the message across to a society affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, not only in the British Virgin Islands but around the world.
Family Health Unit Coordinator of Tortola Noelene Levons commended the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the territory for being the “only faith-based organization in the British Virgin Islands that has been diligent and consistent in promoting health and well-being, not just health but holistic health.”
Henderson Tittle, a motivational speaker from the New Life Baptist Church in Road Town, shared a testimony of his best friend who contracted the HIV virus. During the march, Tittle carried around a basket of freshly baked cookies. The cookies, he said, were brought for a special purpose.
“It is abstinence,” Tittle said. “My cookie bowl is empty, no one abstained from my cookies. Sex is like a cookie, you got to know how much you can eat, because it can hurt you, it can kill you.”
Tittle went on to say that it is not about preventing people from enjoying sex. “Sex is like a loaded gun, and if you don’t know how to use it, you’re going to hurt yourself. You must have a license to use it [sex].”
Pastor Leriano Webster, assistant pastor of the Purcelle Bale View East End and Maranatha Adventist Churches on the island, challenged marchers to focus on putting God first in their lives.
Jacob Adolphus, a youth coordinator on the island, was pleased with the event and is planning on a bigger march next year, which will involve other government bodies. Adolphus said the church has already contacted the social development department to hold a march on child abuse as well.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church oversees seven congregations and one primary and secondary school in Tortola.