Call me foolish, but I had no idea. Until last October, that is.
A team from GFA went to India for a tour last fall and returned with pictures and stories that broke my heart. One Tuesday during our prayer meeting I saw pictures of GFA missionaries cleaning the wounds of lepers and sharing the love of Christ. I came home that evening and cried. Saying to the Lord, "I just want to meet these brothers and sisters", I imagined being able to give them a hug and tell them Thank You.
During the first few days while we were in India, we went to West Bengal. I met some of those precious brothers and sisters I saw in the pictures. I gave them hugs. I told them Thank You. They are the hands and feet of Christ. They are serving in a way I cannot. They speak the language, know the culture, and are giving their lives!
We joined a group of lepers who were meeting for their weekly gathering. When we arrived they were singing worship. I have never in my life seen people with no hands clap. I will never forget what that pure worship looked like.
I'm including a story from the GFA website about the leprosy ministry. You can read more by visiting www.gfa.org and typing "leprosy" in the search box. I've been on staff for a year and had no idea our missionaries were doing this amazing work. God is doing so many things throughout Asia! What a joy to be part of His work!
Gospel for Asia native missionary Garud Badal touches people with leprosy every day in West Bengal, India. He isn't afraid. He used to be one of them.
Carefully dressing a leprosy patient's wounds, Garud remembers back to a time when he suffered greatly and needed someone to help. He found out he had the disease when he was just nine years old.
Garud's family lived in poverty and had no means to pay for treatment. With his condition quickly deteriorating, Garud met a local church pastor who told him about the power and salvation of Jesus. But he only sneered at the pastor. His family fervently worshipped the traditional gods of their village, and he didn't believe Jesus could make a difference in his life.
Several years passed, and Garud was on his deathbed. The leprosy had become so bad, it was about to take his life. And it was when he was at his weakest that Garud remembered the words of the pastor who told him how Jesus healed many people with leprosy during His time on earth.
"Jesus can heal my sickness," Garud repeated to himself. And a new faith developed in his heart.
With tears in his eyes, he prayed and asked the Lord for forgiveness. Soon, Garud was singing songs of praise to Jesus right from his bed. Miraculously, the Lord completely healed Garud of his leprosy in only two weeks.
Garud dedicated his life to serving Jesus, and soon, he entered Bible college to prepare for his future ministry. After graduation Garud began serving as a Gospel for Asia native missionary, reaching out to those with whom he can relate most: the leprosy patients.
Today, Garud goes around his village helping those with leprosy by cleaning and dressing their wounds. Their eyes light up as he cares for them and touches their disease-stricken bodies.
Deeply moved by his acts of kindness, they desire to know the Source of his incredible love. And Garud shares with them his amazing testimony and about the power of Christ.
Many of the leprosy patients have received Jesus as their Savior, and as a result, Garud now leads a Christian fellowship. And more than 80 children are attending Sunday School classes he has started in a leprosy colony.
Garud requests prayer that many more people with leprosy will come to know Jesus after seeing His love demonstrated in a practical way. He also asks for prayer that the Lord will send healing to those with the terrible disease.