There were so many times that Jesus showed the crowds (and the authorities) that what He said He backed up with miracles. For me, His miracles of healing touch a deep spot in my heart – they showed not only His power and Divinity, but His overflowing love and compassion for the despised, the untouchable, the broken and desperate. Sometimes He spoke the words, other times He touched the sufferer. To Him the leper needed His touch because nobody else would risk the contact.
Through history, many have followed in His footsteps, trained to be doctors and scientists, nurses and therapists and have brought the Gospel and healing to the broken and untouchable. One such follower was a young Irish man, Wellesley Bailey, who set sail for India in 1869 and after lodging with a Lutheran missionary and learning the local language, he felt God was calling him to missionary work. He taught in a school in the Punjab area and it was there that he saw the devastating effects of leprosy. Following many talks by him and his wife “The Mission to Lepers” was born and in 1888, the first leprosy hospital was opened in West Bengal. His description of the work was one “born and cradled in prayer”.
WRBC is familiar with the work of the Staines family and for some years has received news of the leprosy work at Mayurbhanj in Orissa State East India.
A book and film have been produced to tell their story. Graham, an Australian missionary, joined the Evangelical Missionary Society in 1965. He helped establish the Mayurbhanj Leprosy Home. After the murder of him and his two sons, the hospital has been renamed “The Graham Staines Memorial Hospital.”
Another great missionary doctor and an innovator in the treatment of leprosy was Dr Paul Brand, an Orthopaedic surgeon and pioneer in muscle-tendon transplant operations in leprosy patients. In 1940 he became the first surgeon in the world to use re-constructive surgery in hands and feet of leprosy patients.
Leprosy continues to plague the world today with over 200,000 cases recorded each year and with increasing numbers in India, Brazil, and Indonesia.
We give thanks to God for these (and many more) followers of Jesus who gave their lives in the service of healing; for those who continue today in this work, and for the Leprosy Mission that financially and prayerfully supports leprosy sufferers across the world.