What Leprosy Couldn’t Steal

Leora stretched out her arms towards the light. She thought the white spots would have disappeared by now—and it worried her. But Parthiv, Leora's husband, brushed off his wife's fears; he assumed they were probably nothing. But when the spots grew numb and oozed puss, a fearsome word haunted Leora's mind: leprosy.

What Leprosy Couldn’t Steal

Leora, much like this woman pictured, suffered rejection simply because she contracted leprosy. After the disease ruined Leora's limbs, life became miserable for her.

Leprosy: The Thief of Normal Life

When leprosy took over Leora's body, Parthiv started to notice. He saw how his wife suffered as the leprous bacteria ate away at her nerves. Leora's wounds began to smell, and life became miserable for her. In her greatest moment of need, Parthiv left her without a warning or a trace. All in one moment, leprosy stole Leora's security and demolished the heart of her husband.

The Plight of Leprosy

After her husband abandoned her, Leora's neighbor took her to a nearby leprosy hospital. Though Leora was just one of the 200,000 people who were diagnosed with leprosy around the world, she was one of the blessed few who received treatment. Sadly, because her condition was not caught or treated earlier, she had to be in the hospital for more than two months. Even after receiving medication and having her wounds cleaned, leprosy still lived inside her body. Though it lay dormant, it had destroyed her marriage and ate away her limbs. But worse than the disease itself, Leora endured the stigma associated with being branded by leprosy.

More than 200,000 people worldwide are afflicted with leprosy, mostly in Brazil, India and Indonesia

Many believe you can easily catch leprosy by simply touching those who have the disease. Because of this fear, infected people are separated from society. Family members may even force them out of the home, leaving their own relatives to fend for themselves in a world that already looks on them with disgust. For centuries, Leprosy has stolen people's dignity and future. Leaora's life was no different.

But there was one thing leprosy could not steal from her.

A Meal that Changed Her Life

One day, Leora decided to collect garbage in a nearby village, hoping to find some things worth selling. It was how she maintained her livelihood. The way leprosy marred her body left no chance for her to have a normal job again. Like many others, Leora knew how society painted leprosy with disgrace. No one would hire a leprosy patient.

After a few hours of hard labor, Leora grew very hungry, and like many other days before, she had no lunch. Hoping someone would be willing to offer something to fill her growling stomach, Leora submitted to begging for her meal.

Sisters of Compassion work among leprosy patients by helping to cook and do chores around their homes that many patients cannot do for themselves.

When she went up to a nearby home, a lady named Sabitha answered Leora's plea for food. Sabitha, a relative of a local GFA-supported pastor, noticed Leora's leprous condition, but instead of following the example of Leora's husband and rejecting her, Sabitha extended love.

"Jesus loves you," Sabitha said as she provided Leora with a meal.

Jesus. Leora had heard that name before. During her stay at the hospital, she had heard about the One called Jesus. He had healed leprosy patients. It was then that a tiny seed of hope was planted in her heart. Now, as Leora heard His name once again, that tiny seed began to take root.

Jesus. Leora had heard that name before.

Leora opened up about her life's struggles and pain to Sabitha's trustworthy and listening ears. Sabitha, in turn, shared the love of Jesus and encouraged her to go to church. She gave Leora directions to a church led by a GFA-supported pastor where she could attend that Sunday.

Church Welcomes Leora

Without hesitation, Leora went to church with a few of her friends. There in the church building, Leora felt a fresh sense of peace and joy come into her heart—she was finally meeting with the One she had heard about. Everyone welcomed her so warmly; they seemed to take little notice of her deformed body. What she experienced was the joy of acceptance and belonging thousands of leprosy patients are receiving through GFA's leprosy ministry as God's children pour out love, despite the stigma of the disease.

Leprosy can be a very lonely, heart-wrenching disease. God is revealing His love to precious leprosy patients through the ministry of Gospel for Asia.

After the church service, Leora expressed to the GFA-supported pastor, Purnendu, that she wanted Jesus to live in her heart forever. She had heard about Christ in the hospital, experienced Christ through the compassion and meal Subitha offered her, and welcomed Christ's love and redemption into her life that day.

Leprosy's destruction didn't win out in Leora's story. It couldn't steal her new life in Jesus.

Today Leora is recovering from leprosy. Her wounds no longer give her aches or emit a foul smell. Her life of misery has left her as she has embraced Christ. Now she lives a life of hope and one full of God's love and peace.

"I thank the Lord my God," Leora testified, "for His lovingkindness and tender mercies in my life."

“I thank the Lord my God,” Leora testified, “for His lovingkindness and tender mercies in my life.”

Leprosy: A Common but Crushing Disease

Leora's life is just one among the masses living with leprosy today. By God's grace, 44 leprosy colonies in Asia, along with the countless precious patients within, have been touched through the leprosy ministry supported by GFA. Just like Leora was shown love and compassion from believers in Christ, many today in leprosy colonies are being served and loved by GFA-supported workers and specially trained women missionaries called Sisters of Compassion.

It is the example of Christ that compels us to reach out and bring healing and hope to those who need it most. Here K.P. Yohannan is helping dress the wounds of a leprosy patient.

These workers serve the patients with love and concern by dressing their wounds on a weekly basis, helping clean their homes and cook their meals. Through the tangible love these workers display, the precious lives of the excluded get the chance to see the love of Jesus—some for the very first time.

We invite you to join us. There are many more who need practical medical care and hope. Will you help share the love of Jesus with the precious masses who are despised and hurting today?


*Names of people and places may have been changed for privacy and security reasons. Images are GFA stock photos used for representation purposes and are not the actual person/location, unless otherwise noted.

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