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World Leprosy Day
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Bahula Rajal couldn’t ignore the woman lying on the ground in her own vomit. Other people walked past her, careful to keep a safe distance. Bahula could tell the woman had leprosy; even so she wouldn’t be like the others who looked away and pretended the woman didn’t exist. In Bahula’s heart, this woman was her family.

January 2014

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Bahula and her two companions helped the sick woman to her feet and brought her back to their home. After they washed her and gave her clean clothes, they fed her and then prayed for her.

The following morning, the woman overflowed with love toward Bahula and the other Gospel for Asia women missionaries, profusely thanking them for helping her in her most desperate time of need.

“God sent you to me,” the woman said. “No one was there to take care of me. No one was there to give me even one drop of water, but God sent you to me.”

Compelled by Love

Bahula (left) and Pastor Jiva (right) spend their lives ministering to men and women who are shunned by the rest of society because of leprosy. The men and women who staff GFA’s hospital give each patient special attention and plenty of love, smiles and prayers.

Compelled by Love

Bahula (left) and Pastor Jiva (right) spend their lives ministering to men and women who are shunned by the rest of society because of leprosy. The men and women who staff GFA’s hospital give each patient special attention and plenty of love, smiles and prayers.

Indifference Turns to Compassion

“No one was there to take care of me. No one was there . . .” That’s something most people affected with leprosy can repeat over and over again. The chronic infectious disease has left them shunned, cast out of their homes, without family, without friends, clustered in colonies with others suffering from the same disease.

Bahula herself grew up in a leper colony. One of her relatives lived with the skin disease, but Bahula never had compassion on those who were affected. She had been just like the others who had walked past the woman, not caring to help or get involved in their lives. But after she surrendered her life to Christ, Bahula found herself being sent to serve among leprosy patients time and time again. She wondered why God kept bringing her back to the same place—and especially to her own village—but now she sees it as His perfect purpose for her.

“Now, when we clean their wounds and I see the swelling and the blood, I feel like I am really doing God’s ministry,” Bahula says. “This is where God is present, and I feel that through this ministry, I’m really serving the Lord. I have peace in my life.”

A ‘Great Thing’ in His Life

Bahula works alongside Gospel for Asia pastor Jiva Giri, who pioneered the leprosy ministry. The first time Jiva witnessed people cleaning leprosy wounds, he thought to himself, I could do a work like that. That would be a great thing in my life.

He could have easily turned his back, never again to set his eyes on the repulsive sight of decaying flesh. Instead, he found himself wanting to wash and bandage the mutilated hands and feet of these people. This desire grew in his heart, and he began asking the Lord when He would give him an opportunity to take care of those who had no one else to care for them.

With burdened hearts, Pastor Jiva and 12 others traveled to the different leper colonies, ready to minister. They washed the clothes of leprosy patients, cut their hair and nails and gave them baths. With each wound they dressed, they poured on the healing balm of Christ’s love. They witnessed of His grace, counseled, encouraged and prayed for them. They brought more than just physical healing—they brought a wellness to hearts and minds that comes from the knowledge one is cared for and loved.

Compelled by Love

Leprosy leaves many shunned and cast out of their homes, without family, without friends, clustered in colonies with others suffering from the same disease.

Growing Ministry

That was the start of what is now Gospel for Asia’s leprosy ministry called Reaching Friends Ministry. Pastor Tarik Paul oversaw Reaching Friends Ministry when it first began in 2007. He thought it would only be a small effort to help a few people with whatever resources they had, but today, it has become one of Gospel for Asia’s largest ministries in Northeast India.

“We never thought our ministry would expand so large or it would become so big,” Tarik says.

With a growing team of men like Pastor Jiva and women like Bahula who serve with committed hearts, hundreds of people suffering from this disease are finding healing and wholeness to their once-marred lives.

“It is because of God’s grace that we have the strength, courage and motivation to work among these people, to share with them, to hug them, to love them and to care for them,” Pastor Jiva says.

Compelled by Love

They brought more than just physical healing—they brought a wellness to hearts and minds that comes from the knowledge one is cared for and loved.

Receiving Smiles in an Atmosphere of Love

As the missionaries persisted in their care, it became clear that long-term treatment was greatly needed. It was simple to clean and bandage the infected area, but this wasn’t ridding patients of the disease. These people needed medicine and professional care. So after years of praying, Gospel for Asia opened a hospital in this region.

Those with leprosy would often stay away from hospitals because of the unfair and unkind treatment they received from the doctors and medical staff. Sometimes they were neglected, left lying on the hospital floor. Other times medicine would get thrown at their feet without any instructions. Doctors would say the only remedy to their disease is amputation, leaving them terrified. As soon as they stepped inside the hospital staffed by GFA workers, however, they felt a huge difference.

“When they go to a hospital, it’s all formality. No one is there to smile at them, care for them or help them. It’s a business,” Tarik explains. “But when they started coming to our hospital, they saw the care that we give, the readiness of our people to help them, and that we provide them with the best treatments. . . . Our sisters talk with them, smile at them and encourage them.”

People travel from neighboring states to get treatment at GFA’s hospital for all sorts of maladies. Tarik says it’s not only for the medical care they receive, but also to enjoy the atmosphere of love. The medical staff encourages each patient, telling them their sickness is not a big problem for their God who heals.

“Don’t worry!” they say. “We will be praying for you.”

Compelled by Love

“It is because of God’s grace that we have the strength, courage and motivation to work among these people, to share with them, to hug them, to love them and to care for them,” Pastor Jiva says

And with people like Pastor Jiva and Bahula faithfully ministering to them and taking care of them as if they were their own mother or father, brother or sister, they know it’s true. They know they have family that cares for them, given to them by a God who loves them.

Learn how you can pray for those with leprosy and the missionaries working among them.

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