World Leprosy Day is January 29, 2017.
Leprosy? Is that still a thing? I know Jesus healed people of leprosy, but is leprosy still around?
Sadly, yes. Despite new treatments that can cure leprosy, the stigma of having an infectious disease keeps people from seeking treatment, especially when society shuts out people with leprosy. More than 200,000 new cases are reported every year, with more than half of them in India (World Health Organization). If treated early using multidrug therapy (MDT), people can recover without permanent disfiguration. Instead, most people with leprosy are forced to live in leper colonies, which are little more than garbage and sewage dumps. This contaminated environment only makes things worse.
Jesus Loves Lepers
In the New Testament we find Jesus unafraid to touch lepers. He could have spoken the word to heal them, but He touched them, adding a social and emotional element to the healing for they were no longer outcasts. Jesus loves lepers today, too.
Sakshi, a young woman in India, had such severe leprosy that doctors considered amputating her leg. She was scared and even considered hanging herself, but that’s when she met some missionaries from Gospel for Asia. They prayed for her and God miraculously healed the woman.
Because of her life experience, Sakshi has a unique compassion for people with leprosy. She knows the physical suffering and social rejection that comes with the disease. This compassion led Sakshi to go to Bible school and return to serve people with leprosy in the name of the Lord.
People with leprosy pull away so she doesn’t become infected, but she explains that she once had leprosy, too. She hugs them, combs their hair, and helps them by washing their clothes or doing housework. She says, “I will become their daughter, I will become their grandchildren, and I will help them and encourage them and I will love them.”
Pray for healing. Please pray God will, in His great love, heal the many leprosy patients calling upon His name. Also ask that our medical personnel will make strides in eradicating leprosy in Asia.
Pray for the leprosy patients. Please pray many leprosy patients will come to know our God’s deep love for them.
Pray for the missionaries. Please lift our leprosy ministry missionaries up in prayer. Pray for spiritual, physical and emotional strength as they minister day after day to the least of these.
Pray for more medical personnel. Please ask the Lord to provide workers who will not only meet the patients’ physical needs, but who will also minister to them spiritually.
Pray for the children. Pray for the children at the Bridge of Hope centers established in leprosy colonies, that they would abound with Christ’s love and grace. Pray for God’s protection upon the children against contracting leprosy.
Society deems people with leprosy as unlovable. Jesus didn’t. He loved and touched them to demonstrate their human value and dignity. We ought to do no less.
Every life matters to God, even those with leprosy. Thankfully, God does not discard us when we are broken, but uses our life experiences as a foundation for ministry. He works through our brokenness to minister His love and power to others, just as Sakshi did. So let’s remember our own brokenness before we judge someone else’s brokenness. And as we realize our brokenness, may we have even greater compassion for the brokenness of others. May we be driven to pray and help those who are broken so God’s love and power can pour out in their lives, just as He has in ours.