WARNING: This post contains graphic images of leprosy wounds and sores.
I grew up reading the Bible, hearing Bible stories, etc… Throughout the Bible you always hear about lepers and leprosy, that they were always deemed unclean, that they were sent away from their city or town or village into camps. There was a severe stigma associated with the disease. Those infected not only had to live with the physical effects of the disease, but also with an intense and overwhelming sense of loneliness and unworthiness from being cast aside and pushed to the margins of society. They became the untouchables. A scratched out footnote of humanity.
Leprosy is a contagious disease that affects the skin, mucous membranes, and nerves, causing discoloration and lumps on the skin and, in severe cases, disfigurement and deformities. This can mean anything from what looks like a skin disease to the literal loss of fingers, toes and other extremities. Open sores and wounds form and cause even more pain and suffering.
The one thing that I (and I venture to say that many of you) didn’t realize is that leprosy is still alive and active today. It isn’t a strange, rare disease strictly confined to the ancient Biblical middle east. It is present today. It is primarily found in tropical regions of Africa, Asia and South America.
I never thought I would come face to face with those affected by this horrific disease. That I would watch men and women struggle with the basics that we take for granted… walking, holding things in our hands… that I would see limbs and extremities missing… nubs where toes and fingers once were. But I have.
I spent two days at a leper camp visiting with our newest affiliate Action Ministry. They are working with these beautiful people who have been affected by this grotesque disease. As in the stories of the Bible, these lepers have had to deal with the same stigma, rejection and neglect. The exclusion from society and years of being unloved has run so deep that it has had a severe affect on their children and grand children; who are clean and unaffected by the disease.
Through the work of Action Ministry there is a beautiful restoration taking place. The camp was once known as Tumbe (meaning a place for rejected people), but they have renamed it Blessed Camp. Through a feeding program, monthly medical outreaches, educational programs and the founding of a church, they are meeting physical and spiritual needs that have been untouched for years. The work that is being done is incredible… a work of hope and healing.
You can help Action Ministry and be a part of the work that is happening in Blessed Camp. Check out Know.Think.Act. right now. Whether through purchasing medication, food for the feeding program, or educational resources for the children, there is a tangible way that you can get involved.
Click here to help provide the supplies needed to dress the wounds of those affected by leprosy. As little as $80 can help 40 people have their wounds dressed twice a week. That’s $2 per person per week!
U.S. Programs Director