Uganda is one of African countries with the highest number of children orphaned by AIDS. Lydia Tierra is one of them. She was still a teenager when AIDS killed her parents. For the bereaved and orphaned Lydia then began the very difficult process of healing that eventually led her to serve people who are sick with AIDS.
Lake Victoria is the largest in Africa. On its Northern shores in Uganda is Entebbe, the hometown of Lydia Tierra. Lydia’s father was a well-known Christian leader in Uganda, but he lived a double life. When Lydia was 17, there was one event that probably turned everything upside down.
“My dad died of AIDS. He died after a long illness, which we didn’t even know, says Lydia Tierra. Later we learned that he had a mistress.”
No one knew that he was dying from AIDS. He kept it secret.
“I was very angry — said Lydia Tierra. And to the father, and of God at all. As for the father, and he had seemed perfect. He appeared in front of me in the image of perfect person”.
And a year later died of AIDS and her mother.
“I asked God: “Why did this happen?” — says the woman.
But Lydia’s not the only one. In Uganda, about 1 million 200 thousand children have lost one or both parents due to AIDS. One close family friend decided to help Lydia. Pastor Timothy is one of the largest Evangelical churches in Entebbe. Shortly after the death of his parents, Lydia, he and his wife have pledged to love and take care of her. According to Lydia, this act of kindness began her path to healing and recovery.
“This was a turning point for me,” says Lydia.
The next few years, Lydia has studied Scripture, applying it to his unhappy life. She soon realized that, like her father, she too is a sinner saved by the grace of God.
“I began to look at dad differently. How I would like to meet him and say: “Dad, I’m sorry. I understand,” she says and adds that it no longer holds the unforgiveness and bitterness.
“The bitterness and the anger began to leave, because I realized that you’re no different from dad. And now I know that I am forgiven. I’m a sinner and I need Christ, like any other,” she says.
Soon after graduation, Lydia joined “Wycliffe”, one of the largest organizations in the translation of the Bible in the world. With the blessing of her adoptive parents and the Church she became the first Ugandan missionary society “Wycliffe”.
“I’m saved, I know God’s love, and so, as we all do, is to pass this love, the good news about it to other people. There are no exceptions,” says Lydia Tierra.
Lydia now travels the country, helping to translate God’s Word into local languages and giving hope to people living with AIDS. 17 years after this illness Lydia lost her parents, she strives to instill the hope of Jesus Christ to those suffering from HIV / AIDS.
“Even in this situation, people may be hope. Let them grow weaker in body, but in their hearts they know that once you meet Jesus, know the power of forgiveness and His love for us,” says Lydia Tierra.