Pastor Spotlight  
  Pastor: Reverend Stacey Latimer
Balm in Gilead International/Love Alive Inc.- New York, NY
Interview by:
Tuan N'Gai

Tuan (TN): Good morning Rev. Latimer. It's an honor to talk with you. I'm gonna start this interview like all the others. I will begin a thought with "God opens doors..." and I'd like you to complete it.

Stacey (SL): Okay. TN: "God opens doors...

SL: afford all of us opportunities, and gives us free will to pursue or not pursue." TN: Tell us about your position with The Balm In Gilead, Inc.

SL: I am the Black Church HIV/AIDS Network Coordinator. I recruit churches to join The Black Church HIV/AIDS Network. This is a network that consists of ministries that have stepped forward as leaders throughout the African Diaspora by establishing AIDS ministries. The Balm In Gilead has provided assistance to over 15,000 churches, ministries, and non-profit organizations through out the United States. We provide venues for churches from all over the nation, as well as Africa and the Caribbean, to come receive training from the nation's experts, share ideas, network, and become empowered with knowledge, and be refreshed by the spirit of God to go back to the communities where they serve, to make a difference in this pandemic.

TN: I recently read a column by a right-wing conservative journalist who made some very negative remarks about The Balm In Gilead. He couldn't see how this organization could even use a scriptural reference as its name. How do you respond to such comments?

SL: When I first started, I used to get frustrated by such comments. But I understand now that opposition comes any time you are bold enough to walk in that which God has called you to do. The anointing sent by God gives you strength to press through hurtful and discouraging opposition. We have to understand that man can never see the whole picture; that's for the Father's eyes only. Some people will never see the good in who you are, or what you do, for it takes the mind of Christ to find good in... Yet, even if the entire world is against you, God is expecting an excellent work in that which he has called you to do. For, him alone being with you is more than the whole world against you. His Spirit rises up a standard for the work. When we go too far left, or too far right, or began to think that we are the ONLY RIGHT mission, we can lose sight of the great move of God in the north, south, east, and/or west; a move crucial to life and living. We'll never see, or understand the whole picture till Christ return. So, I/we continue to do what God has called me/us to do, knowing I/we will be victorious in my/our service to Him.

TN: Seeing as you aren't a "church pastor" but serve in a different paradigm of ministry, how do you stand up to scrutiny?

SL: God often uses simple things to confound the wise. He has endowed us with gifts to bring him glory and honor. In his own way, He also makes room for these gifts. We must understand just what and who the church is, along with the responsibilities God has charged her with. Some of us are lost in our understanding of this divine concept, due to years of media exploitation, as well as our own highlighting and ongoing acknowledgements of shortcomings, struggles, and down falls of members and leaders in the church. But God is and has always been doing great things for us, in ways we know not of!! Our only example or measuring tool should be Jesus, and his measure of love. I see myself as a leader, not because of what people call me, but because of what God has called me to do in such a time as this, and he is who I chosen to listen to instead of man.

TN: What can the church do more effectively in regard to HIV/AIDS prevention and education?

SL: Become more informed. Hunger for greater knowledge and understanding. Through divine orchestration, information is out here for our use. The Bible is our guideline. Yet, we must study to show ourselves approved unto the Lord, a workman needing not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." This is a must to walk in the truth of God's love in such changing times! Religion and tradition alone will never afford us the liberty needed to express the true love ethic of Christ!

TN: What can individuals do to get into the struggle to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS?

SL: Find a church, community organization, or answer "the call" God has on your life in this hour, and get involved. Do what you do with passion, compassion and purpose. Understand that opposition and hard times will come. But be not weary in your well doing. God WILL provide the means, and the way; as he makes room for you, your talents, and gifts. Your faithfulness will meet a bountiful harvest. Not because I say so, but because God promised it! Stay encouraged and remember why you wanted to get involved in the first place. Know your calling! Know that your work fits into God's big picture, and is much needed. We are all in this together, and we need you doing walking in his purpose for you.

TN: In light of the current HIV/AIDS statistics in the African-American community, is there a Balm In Gilead?

SL: Oh yes! There is a Balm in Gilead. There is healing provided by the great physician! The earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof. God uses who and what he wants to sustain us, orchestrate healing in us, and in providing restoration to those in need. He has showered us with great promises that are sure to come. All we have to do is believe HIM! We must walk with confidence in his word and we will not fail, because he will not fail. God says there is a Balm in Gilead! He said it and that settles it1!!

TN: I close every interview with this question...if you had 45 seconds to address the entire world, what would you say?

SL: WOW...that's a BIG question! I would trust God for a word that would bring healing to our land, a word that would not exclude ANYONE. I'd pray for a word that would give strength to the weak, comfort to the broken hearted, love to the loveless, and assurance to those who feel powerless over principalities and powers that have them held captive. It would be a word perpetual in healing as it goes out. And when all has been said, all would know that the great I AM IS!

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