Society rejects them, family members abandon them, and employers refuse to hire them. Such is the life of India’s lepers—full of difficulty and hardship.
But national Christian workers bandage their festering wounds, pray with them, prepare food for them, embrace them, and affectionately call them “our leprosy friends.” An elderly Indian pastor told our staff about one of his first visits to a leprosy colony years ago. One of the lepers brought him a cup of tea. The pastor recoiled inwardly when he saw the man’s disfigured hands and infected wounds. He breathed a prayer, “Lord, when you were on earth, you embraced these people and touched them. Help me do the same.” The pastor reached out his hand and took the tea. The leper’s face glowed with joy, thrilled for the opportunity to extend kindness to someone. This was the beginning of the pastor’s work among
his “leprosy friends.”
The labors of Christian workers in leprosy colonies accomplish several things. Those with leprosy receive practical items like food, clothing, latrines, and custom-made sandals. Improved hygiene and medical
treatment also help reduce the spread of the dreaded disease. In fact, several colonies where believers worked are now leprosy-free. Although the stigma and permanent disfigurement remain, the disease itself is gone. But most beautiful of all is that an abandoned and rejected group of people gets a glimpse of Jesus through the kindness of His people. They are touched to know that Jesus loved lepers,
touched them, and healed them. As a result, numerous people in leprosy colonies have chosen to follow the Lord.
“And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean” (Mark 1:40-41).
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