“Today, the diagnosis and treatment of leprosy is easy and most endemic countries are striving to fully integrate leprosy services into existing general health services. This is especially important for those under-served and marginalised communities most at risk from leprosy, often the poorest of the poor” (WHO: Leprosy Today).
I learned about leprosy from reading the Bible and watching the movie “Ben Hur” but always believed that it was a disease of those times. After watching Leprosy Mission, I realize that it is very much a reality. I never saw how disfiguring it was until I watched the faces of men, women and children who were living with it.
I was touched when I read the story of Kishori, a woman who was diagnosed with leprosy during her second pregnancy. Unable to take medications that would restrict the sickness from spreading she watched as the disease disfigured her arms and legs.
For years the leprosy racked her body with pain. The medication she took hardly reduced her symptoms and the one hour walk to the hospital where she hoped to find relief took four hours because of the excruciating pain in her feet. The treatment she received brought some relief but the pain returned when the sores did and Kishori found herself sinking into emotional despair.
Kishori was not abandoned by her husband, Manit but their neighbors were cruel and unfeeling and demanded to know why he kept her with him and didn’t send her home to her parents. Manit insisted that he would not abandon Kishori and reaffirmed his love for her even though she sided with the neighbors and told him that she would go and live with her parents. She wondered why he was still married to her. The words of her neighbors cut her deeply and she shied away from being with others. She lived in emotional and physical agony, feeling neglected and unwanted.
After decades of living the emotional and physical pain of leprosy, Kishori found relief in an most unexpected way. Visitors came to her door and offered to clean her sores. She gladly received Pastor Jiva and another missionary into her home and she saw them everyday as they returned to minister to her. Her feet and arms soon began to heal.
Kishori and her family listened as the missionaries shared how Jesus could completely heal her. No doubt they shared the story of the leper who went to Jesus and imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed (Mark 1:40-42).
After years, decades of pain and despair, hope became alive in Kishori. She learned about Jesus who could heal her. She was encouraged to pray for healing. She received kindness from Pastor Jiva and the missionaries who continued to visit her and clean her sores. They assured her of Jesus’ love. As a result of this outpouring of love and compassion, Kishori placed her hope in God. She and her family are now attending a local church.
This story ends on a very positive note. Kishori is completely healed of leprosy because of the God in who she had placed her hope and the Jesus whom she had trusted to heal her. God continues to care for her through the Gospel for Asia’s Leprosy Ministry. Thanks to this ministry Kishori has received a pair of shoes specially designed for her and other gifts such as mosquito nets, blankets and daily meals. Life is better for Kishori now. She is able to care for her family instead of begging on the streets for help. Her home which was once a place where she hid from society and life, is now filled with laughter and love.
God healed Kishori in body and mind. He brought hope, love and healing into the life of a recluse. He showed Kishori that there is a God who cares for her. Just as her husband could not abandon her because he loved her, God did not abandon her because He loved her. He sent Pastor Jiva and the missionaries to care for her.
Kishori’s story inspires me. It reminds me that God cares. He cares for the neglected and unwanted. And no matter how long it takes, He will always come through for us.