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Isolation through AIDS highlighted in mission photo competition

Posted on: November 28, 2019 2:41 PM
The winner of the Church Mission Society's photo competition: Mission is…Breaking the Silence by Rebekka Stredwick
Photo Credit: Rebekka Stredwick

[ACNS, by Rachel Farmer] A poignant picture of a young mother in South Africa struggling to come to terms with the stigma of living with HIV has won the Church Mission Society’s (CMS) mission photo competition.

Titled ‘Breaking the Silence’, the photograph was taken by Rebekka Stredwick and frames a young woman hiding behind a curtain, stigmatised and ostracised as a result of her diagnosis but liberated by the chance to tell her story to Rebekka and the team at Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust.

Talking in the run up to World Aids day on 1 December, Rebekka said: “Stigma is still huge around the world (both in developed and developing countries) when it comes to HIV/AIDS which can lead to people living with HIV feeling isolated, judged and lonely. It can also be a barrier to accessing HIV prevention, testing and treatment services, putting lives at risk.

The ‘This is Mission’ photo competition was launched as part of CMS’s two-year ‘Mission Is’ campaign. The aim was to help people see the breadth and depth of God’s mission around the world, and to challenge them to get involved.

Commenting on Stredwick’s winning photo, one judge said: “Apart from the beauty of the photo, the breaking down of stigma and prejudice is a key reason why mission deserves all our efforts and attention.”

CMS received more than 50 creative entries to the competition, ranging from “Mission is…ethical fashion” to “Mission is…ice cream” to “Mission is…messy”.

One Church of England clergyman who also took part in the competition welcomed the opportunity to present mission in a new light.

Pioneer minister at St Peter’s Church, Maidenhead, Kevin Colyer, entered a photo called ‘Mission is Messy’ taken of a mother and a child drawing at a festival. People attending the festival were invited to draw or paint their favourite journeys on a map. He said, “Art is a way of seeing the world differently and I think this is a way of seeing the world through the eyes of others.”

Naomi Steinberg, Head of Communications at CMS, said: “Our first-ever photo competition has been really enjoyable. It’s been great seeing people’s unique views of God’s mission. Even though the competition is officially over, we hope people will continue to share their perspectives on the @mission_is instagram page, which they can do by using #mission_is. The more people see the many and varied ways God is at work in our world, the better.