Forgotten by the world. That’s the despair this 99-year-old woman has quietly endured within the walls of a remote leprosy colony in China. Her daily suffering from the curse of leprosy turned into months, years and then decades. But now she knows that God has not forgotten her, because in 2016 Leprosy Ministry workers began showing her the unconditional love of Jesus by meeting her pressing needs.
Akhila and her sister, Alekya, healthy children of leprosy-afflicted parents, are able to attend school because they have sponsors through the Leprosy Ministry. The girls also receive food, Christian teaching, medical care, toys and clothing.
Leprosy families in Nepal have had their homes rebuilt after the devastating earthquake in 2015, thanks to compassionate donors to this ministry. And we’re going into Mombasa, Kenya, for the first time to help those who’ve just recently contracted the disfiguring disease.
Contrary to common belief, leprosy has not been eradicated from the world—in fact, it seems to be increasing, even in such unlikely places as the State of Florida in the US, where a couple contracted the disease from eating an infected armadillo. (Even the World Health Organization has back-pedaled on this, reversing its 2005 statement that leprosy had been “eradicated.”) Indeed, in a 2016 survey of 149 districts in India more than 127,000 new cases were reported.
Clearly, leprosy is on the increase, and the Leprosy Ministry is ministering to the needs of victims wherever God leads us.
In 2016 we did just that by providing food, medical care, clothing, blankets and housing to meet the pressing needs of leprosy patients in the nations of India, China and Nepal. The Leprosy Ministry is also providing education and vocational training to the healthy children of those afflicted so that their generation can break free from the poverty and social stigma of their parents and grandparents. We’ve now provided about 250 of their adult children with résumés that no longer say “beggar,” but instead say teacher, seamstress, nurse, computer technician and more. This year we’re helping even more to become self-sufficient.
Most importantly, however, we’re ministering to the emotional and spiritual needs of the most rejected and ostracized people group in the world. Christ came to show us the way to alleviate the suffering of the “least of these,” and we share His truth and love wherever we go.