Loving the Unloved

For I am the LORD who heals you – Exodus 15:26

I read this story and was so touched by this young woman’s love and compassion for others who were experiencing what she once experienced.  When a leprosy patient cried out, “Don’t open my bandage!”, Sakshi revealed her own hands and feet which clearly showed traces of the disease.  She assured the patient the disease was not as result of some sin.  Many people who have leprosy believe that some sin in their lives is the cause.  Sakshi once believed this too.

Sakshi was a teenager when she found out that she had the disease.  As the eldest her younger siblings used to look up to her until she got leprosy.  They abruptly withdrew from her and wanted nothing more to do with her.  Friendless and rejected, Sakshi became depressed and hopelessness drove her to attempted suicide.  Thankfully, her father saved her and encouraged her.  He told her that she was a precious child and urged her to strengthen her heart through the pain and hardship.

“So my papa was becoming so much a comforter to me and he comforted me and even my brother and sister, they used to hate me, and they don’t want to talk with me, they were not in home at that time when I was doing all these things,” Sakshi shared. “So my father, he saw me and he pulled me from there, and he made me understand everything, and after that I became ok.”

After speaking to her father, she gave up trying to end her life but was still experiencing loneliness and it didn’t help that people were blaming her for contracting the disease.  This is similar to what Job himself experienced when he lost his livestock, possessions, servants and children and was covered in painful boils.  He was blamed for what happened to him.  His friends offered him no comfort and told him that he must have committed some evil for all these things to have happened to him.  He was all alone but he clung to his faith in God and God healed him and restored his losses.

Unlike Job, Sakshi had some support but it didn’t stop her from worrying or believing that she had done something to contract the disease.  As time went by, her condition grew worse.  One of her fingers bent in an awkward position and when she experienced terrible pain in one of her legs, the doctors encouraged her to amputate it but she was afraid to do so.  And it was around this time that she met a few Gospel for Asia supported missionaries who encouraged her and prayed for her.  They told her about the about the love of the Healer and Sakshi began to pray in faith and ask Jesus to heal her own body. And her prayer was answered.  Jesus healed her!

After she experienced complete healing, Sakshi decided that she would dedicate her life to serving the Lord and helping others.  She attended Bible college and served in leprosy ministry after graduation.  She made it her mission to reach out to the shunned and the rejected.  “Nobody is there to comfort [the leprosy patients] and to give any kind of encouragement. Nobody wants to love them, hug them or to come near to them to dress them.”

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God – 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4

“By seeing them, I am thinking that I will fill the gap,” Sakshi said. “I will give that love, which they are not getting from their grandchildren and daughters… I will become their daughter, I will become their grandchildren, and I will help them and encourage them and I will love them.”  With the love of Christ flowing through her, Sakshi touched the untouchable and despised by doing simple things such as helping them with housework, giving them hugs, washing clothes and combing hair.  She showed them the love of God and how precious they were in His sight.  He has not forgotten them.  God used her testimony to give them hope.  He does not cast people aside because they have leprosy.  When Sakshi cried out to Him in faith, He heard her and answered.  He intervened when she wanted to end her life and through her father, He spoke “words of life into her weary soul”.

January 29 is World Leprosy Day.  You can make a difference in the lives of those who are suffering from this disfiguring disease by helping the Leprosy Ministry to share the love of Christ and the Gospel.  We hope to see more people like Sakshi dedicating their lives to serving Jesus and bringing others to Him.  Be a part of the ministry which reaches out to people who will hear, perhaps for the first time, about a kind and compassionate Savior who is not afraid to touch and hold them.  He loved the unloved.

Show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother – Zechariah 7:9

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Source:  Gospel for Asia

Mary Tyler Moore

Who can turn the world on with her smile…

Today, Mary Tyler Moore, one of Television’s favorite icons passed away at the age of 80 after being placed on a respirator the previous week.

One of my favorite things about the Mary Tyler Moore show was its theme.  It encourages a single woman in her thirties to step out on her own and start living.  The best part was when she tossed her hat up in the air.  That showed a woman of confidence.  A woman who knew that she was going to make it after all.  Incidentally, the hat toss was ranked by Entertainment Weekly as the second greatest moment in television.

Before she was Mary Richards, Mary Tyler Moore played the role of housewife, Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show.  Carl Reiner recalls casting her for the part.  “I saw 26 girls!” He told Conan O’ Brien in 2013.  He was won over by Mary’s reading.  “I grabbed the top of her head and said ‘Come with me.’  I walked her down the hall to [series producer Sheldon Leonard] and said ‘I found her!’” I was a big fan of The Dick Van Dyke Show.

I was surprised to hear that initially the Mary Tyler Moore show was not an immediate hit.  It failed in its test trial.  People thought Mary was a loser and that she wouldn’t succeed.  However, show began to resonate with feminists because it was the first to mention the pill.  And that it was ok for a woman not to have a date on Saturday night.  The show also tackled issues such as equal pay for women, pre-marital sex, homosexuality  marital infidelity and divorce, infertility and addiction to sleeping pills.  The show went on to become one of the most acclaimed television programs in US television history.  It received high praise from critics during its run, garnered Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series three years in a row (1975–77), and continued to be honored long after the final episode aired. In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked The Mary Tyler Moore Show No. 6 in its list of the 101 Best Written TV Series of All Time.  It was the first American show to feature as its central character a never-married and independent career woman.

Although she became famous and was well loved for her role as Mary Richards, the epitome of modern feminism and received an Oscar nomination for her serious turn as a cold, emotionally withdrawn mother in Ordinary People, acting wasn’t Mary’s first choice of a career.  At the age of 17, she decided that she wanted to be a dancer.  Her television career began with her dancing in TV commercials.  She modeled anonymously on the covers of a number of record albums and auditioned for the role of the older daughter of Danny Thomas for his long-running TV show but was turned down. Much later, Thomas explained that “no daughter of mine could have that [little] nose.” Mary appeared on several shows before she was hired for the role of Laura Petrie for which she won an Emmy.  The idea for the Mary Tyler Moore Show was Mary’s and her husband’s.  And the rest, as you know, is history.

Mary Tyler Moore was active in charity work and involved in causes such as animal rights and diabetes.  At the age of 33, Mary herself was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  In 2011, she had surgery to remove a meningioma, a benign brain tumor. In 2014 friends reported that she had heart and kidney problems and was nearly blind.

Ironically, Mary Tyler Moore who became an icon for the feminist movement turned down Gloria Steinem’s invitation to join the movement because she did not believe in Steinem’s view that “women owe it to themselves to have a career.”  Mary believed that that women have an important role in raising children.

Notes to Women salute this amazing, accomplished and classy woman who became the American sweetheart of television.  She was an inspiration for housewives, career women and single women.  She was an inspiration for all women.

Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.

You truly have to make the very best of what you’ve got. We all do.

I’ve always been independent. I’ve always had courage. But I didn’t always own my diabetes.

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Sources:  Wikipedia; Deadline Hollywood; Wikipedia; The Hollywood Reporter; Brainy Quotes

Fearless and On Fire

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O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me – Psalm 30:2

Just recently I read about the leper who went to Jesus for healing.  The man went to Him and said,  “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”  Living with the disease would have been terrible for this man.  He would have been separated from family and friends and shunned by his community.  When He knew that Jesus was in the area, he had to go and see Him.   He went to Him and fell down at His feet.   He fell on his face.   He had faith that Jesus could heal Him but he wasn’t sure that it was something that He was willing to do.

Jesus looked at this man and was filled with compassion.  He assured him that healing him was something that He was willing to do.  Then, He put out His hand and touched him. Jesus could have easily spoken the words, “be cleansed” without touching him but He chose do both and immediately, the man was cleansed.   It was that personal touch which made the difference for this man who had not had human contact since he got the disease. It delighted Jesus to not only dispel the man’s uncertainty about His willingness to heal him with words but also with a touch.  He followed His declaration with action.  And that leper went away, cleansed, his life completely transformed.

Like this leper, Sanjushree knew, without a shred of doubt that Jesus could heal her. Sanjushree was just nine years old when she first noticed that her fingers started to curl inward.  She didn’t understand why this was happening nor did the her parents nor doctors nor witch doctors they visited in search of answers.  The years went by, Sanjushree’s fingers didn’t straighten out and she kept to herself in embarrassment, only interacting with others when she needed to.  She was afraid that others might catch whatever she had that was disfiguring her fingers.

At 22 Sanjushree got married and had two daughters, however, five years after the marriage, skin lesions appeared on her body.  That was when she realized that she had leprosy.   It was difficult for her to live a normal life.  Her husband and children continued to love her while some of the people in the community became afraid to be around her and cut off all contact with her.  Others, however, didn’t allow the stigma of leprosy to interfere with their friendship with the woman who was kind and helped them to deliver their children.

For more than 40 years Sanjushree lived with a disease which made her suffer emotionally even as she was determined to continue with her life.  She worked by making brooms and cane baskets, catching and selling fish, farming, not letting her gnarled fingers and the other symptoms of the disease prevent her from helping to provide for her family.

One day a friend told her about a nearby church and hospital where people with all sorts of health problems were treated.  This gave Sanjushree hope.  For the first time in her life, she began to believe that she could be healed.  It was there that she first heard about Jesus.  She was treated at the same hospital that was connected to the church.  She attended church and learned more about Jesus.  When she heard that He healed people with leprosy, deep faith sprung up in her heart and she believed that He could heal her, in fact she depended on it.

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD – Psalm 27:14

Sanjushree waited 20 years for God to heal her.  Not once during that time did her faith and trust in Him waver.  She held on to her belief that Jesus could heal her.  Her trust in Him sustained her during those years of waiting.  Then, finally, at the age of 50, she experienced the healing she had prayed for.  Like the leper, she was filled with joy.  She decided that she wanted to dedicate the rest of her life helping the suffering sick.  She could relate to what they were going through and she spent years praying for them and she shared her own struggle with leprosy and God’s miraculous healing.  She spoke of His love and through her prayers, God freed people who were victims of spiritual oppression and various sicknesses.

I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee – Psalm 22:22

Before Sanjushree discovered the God who healed her, she tried to separate herself from the community.  After she was healed, she couldn’t keep silent.  She had to do something.  Like the leper couldn’t keep his healing to himself and went and told everyone what Jesus had done for him, Sanjushree was passionate about sharing His goodness with others.  Whenever she attended church, she took at least one person with her.  She travels to different places, praying for people, helping women to deliver their babies and telling people about the Lord who healed her.  God is using this fearless woman to show people His saving grace.

Sanjushree’s faith and passion for helping others and sharing the Goodness is inspiring.  She is fearless like a lion when it comes to bringing others to the Lord and on fire for Him. Her story is a testimony that God is still in the business of healing.

Join Sanjushree and Gospel for Asia in their mission to share the love of Jesus and bring hope to victims of this disfiguring disease by giving toward the Leprosy Ministry.  Here are ways you can help the ministry:

Pray for GFA’s Leprosy Ministry

Here are five ways you can pray for the work GFA is doing to help leprosy patients.

Donate so Missionaries Can Continue to Help

Your gift to the leprosy ministry enables missionaries to reach these leprosy patients with basic necessities and open the door for them to receive Jesus’ love.

Give a gift to bless leprosy patients.

Raise Funds for the Leprosy Ministry

Start a personal campaign through Gospel for Asia’s myGFA so you can inspire your friends and family to join you in helping leprosy patients in South Asia.

Start a fundraising campaign at myGFA.

Help raise awareness for World Leprosy Day by sharing Sanjushee’s story.

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Source:  Gospel for Asia