The message was short and should have been common knowledge, but by the end of the speech, people had begun to cry.
“Earlier, the lepers were considered as untouchables, but in this generation and time, there is no such discrimination . . .” Gospel for Asia pastor Vagish had said. “Our Creator, the Lord Jesus, loved all the sick people, including lepers.”
Such sentiments were repeated across South Asia last year as GFA missionaries recognized World Leprosy Day with special programs. They sang songs and danced, dressed wounds and distributed food, blankets and candy. For leprosy patients, who are generally reviled by society, it was unlike anything they had experienced before.
Although leprosy is easily treated and not highly contagious, the disease’s stigma is so great in certain parts of the world that a diagnosis means a lifetime of isolation.
“My husband and I both are affected with leprosy,” said Baishali, who lives in a leprosy colony with 24 other families. “These four sisters [missionaries] are coming and visiting us. It gives us inner peace because our relatives have never visited us.”
A man who heard Pastor Vagish speak said, “I am so happy, and I can see the love of people through the gift [food and a blanket] provided to me at this old age.”
The man added that he hoped the missionaries would stay in touch with him, “so I can share with you my feelings and pain.”
A Day to Serve
This week, GFA workers are once again gearing up to show Christ’s love in celebration of World Leprosy Day on January 26. One-day programs will be held in communities from January 26 to January 30.
In addition to distributing food and holding formal programs, GFA missionaries will clean local leprosy colonies—including patients’ homes—and bring in doctors to provide medical care. Certain teams will also provide gifts like blankets, shoes and even goats.
For at least 260 leprosy patients, the day will mark the beginning of GFA’s leprosy ministry in their areas.
“They have shelter and other basic facilities provided by the government, but they are not getting proper medical care,” said a GFA correspondent of one community.
Now, groups of specially-trained women missionaries will serve in the leprosy colony full time, offering medical care and sharing the love of Jesus.
Please pray for our missionaries as they show Christ’s love to hundreds of leprosy patients next week. Pray that the programs will bring healing to their bodies and hope to their hearts.
You can also help GFA-supported missionaries serve leprosy patients.
*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.