A Khayelitsha pastor, who preached about Jesus being HIV positive, took a public HIV test in full view of his congregation on Sunday morning.
Pastor Xola Skosana, who was concluding a three-part sermon titled Jesus Is HIV Positive, said he was motivated to tackle the issue from the pulpit after witnessing his sister being "ravaged by Aids related diseases".
"My sister, like many, suffered in pain and I asked myself questions about this disease and the answer was in Jesus," Skosana said.
He said the church could no longer keep quiet about HIV matters.
"We must make our congregants feel free to talk about this because most families are faced with the challenge of this illness," he said.
After his sermon Sister Nosiphiwo Motsau and colleagues provided professional pre- and post-counselling to congregants and told them it was their choice to be tested.
"Knowing your status is your business and you must not feel forced here. The tests are confidential," she said.
More than 100 congregants voluntarily took the HIV test.
Treatment Action Campaign's Mandla Majola praised Skosana for the bold step he took but lambasted charlatans who claimed to cure HIV through prayer.
"These people continue to make HIV their cash-cow. They know people are desperate and they use falsehoods to claim a cure for the disease," he said.
Majola said churches that are open about HIV should be encouraged because there is a lot of discrimination against carriers since they are deemed to be sexually active.
He urged other churches to follow suit and encourage their congregants to know their status.
The sermon also drew the attention of social networkers on Facebook, who made scathing remarks. Some called him "controversial" but Skosana was adamant his message was meant to help people.
Skosana's church invited Sowetan columnist Andile Mngxitama for the Passover service.
(This story is courtesy of the Sowetan. Used with permission.)