Responding to the HIV and AIDS epidemic in the context of unjust social structures : a challenge to the Burundian pentecostal churches' theology of mission.
That the HIV and AIDS epidemic is fuelled by structural injustices is not a new discovery. Several studies reveal the link between the HIV transmission and the spread of the epidemic and the structural inequalities created by human beings themselves in terms of economic and political structures sustained by the patriarchal socio-cultural and religious beliefs systems. In most African rural contexts, faith communities have the potential to alter the course of the epidemic given their moral authority in community and their direct connection with people. However, they are seldom theologically equipped to address the structural inequalities that fuel the spread of HIV and AIDS. This study critically analyses the specific factors driving the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Burundian context and the challenge that they pose to the Burundian Pentecostal churches‘ theology of mission. The study argues that Burundian Pentecostal churches are not responding the epidemic as they should because their responses are informed by a theological framework of mission that was elaborated in the early years of the 20th century and which was responding to theological and social questions quite different to the questions raised by the current HIV context. To overcome this theological irrelevancy that has led to a failure to respond to the political, socio-economic, and cultural factors that fuel the spread of HIV infection, the study suggests that there is a need to adopt a theological framework rooted in a holistic understanding of the mission of the church in the world as defined by the concept of missio Dei. The practical implication of this theological framework is that it challenges faith communities in general and Burundian Pentecostals in particular to become transforming agents not only interested in right relationships between God and humans but also committed to the transformation of political, economic, socio-cultural and religious structures that sustain unequal relationships between humans and between humanity and the rest of creation.