Penny Dugan has a different story that took place in the same time period in the '80's. She founded New Jerusalem Missions, and here is how her story is told on their web site:
New Jerusalem Missions came to life in 1994, planted in America's heartland just a few miles north of Wichita, Kansas. NJM Director Penny Dugan's first acquaintance with AIDS was a bitter one: in 1987, her husband was diagnosed HIV positive. This led her to a Death & Dying course on the grief process and people affected by AIDS. When she interviewed a man living with AIDS, the loneliness and isolation he suffered broke Penny's heart. Nobody should have to go through something like this alone, she felt. AIDS is misnamed. It should be called AIDLESS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Lacking Emotional Support from Society). Penny felt the Lord saying, To respond is simple. Put yourself in his place and ask how would you want to be treated if you were sick and dying.
Between 1987 and 1990, Penny and her three children dealt with the hurts of her husband's choices and the unrelenting progression of his illness. They divorced after he left for an alternative lifestyle.
New Jerusalem Missions was birthed after Penny and her Children took a three month discipleship course in Kona, Hawaii at YWAM (Youth With a Mission)'s University of the Nations (Crossroads Discipleship Training School). They attended this course in the fall of 1990 hoping that God would call them to Russia or Africa, to some place of great need. Instead, they felt the call to serve people with AIDS back in mainland USA. This call led Penny to start New Jerusalem Missions. In 1992, Penny incorporated NJM and helped care for her husband until his death in April 1993. In August of that year, Penny and her family moved NJM to Kansas. A board of directors was formed. The street church she was a part of, Belleville Christian Center, and several friends rallied with Penny as she gave birth to the vision. The scripture Revelation 21:3-10 is what she felt New Jerusalem was to be: a place where people would find comfort and peace, a place where they would come to know Christ and His promise of eternal life, therefore fulfilling the words no more pain, no more tears, no more dying. The plan was to start a group home in a small Kansas town. But due to strong local opposition there, she relocated her efforts to Wichita and opened Someplace Else.
I believe in mercy and grace. I believe in the power of speaking truth in the context of relationship, of self-sacrifice and compassion. One of my favorite videos is below and it tells of the power of God's grace in a community in Australia. It lasts about one hour but it is well worth watching. At about 16 minutes Debra begins to talk and she has a compelling story to tell. Jump to that point if you want to move through it more quickly.
"Don't hurt the lambs." It's the phrase that continues to echo in my mind. In my clumsy walk through life, I hope that phrase will continue to take root in me.
-John M Troyer