In Jesus' day, leprosy was a physical and social "death sentence." The incurable disease stripped its victims of dignity, relationships and prosperity. Jews would not go anywhere near leprosy victims, requiring them to shout out "unclean" as they walked.
Jesus, however, showed that God's love extended beyond such boundaries, reaching even the lowest of the low. As Jesus, surrounded by a crowd of followers, came down from the hillside where He gave the Sermon on the Mount, "Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. ‘Lord,' the man said, ‘if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.' Jesus reached out and touched him. ‘I am willing,' he said. ‘Be healed!' And instantly the leprosy disappeared" (Matt. 8:2-3).
That man had probably not been touched by another person since he first discovered his illness-Jesus' touching a leper would have been almost as astonishing as healing him, both to the man and to the crowd.
While leprosy has been mostly eradicated from the West through antibiotics, thousands still suffer from this disease in developing countries. Particularly in India, the stigma attached to leprosy still runs strong, leaving its victims as impoverished outcasts.
For decades, AMG India International has endeavored to follow Christ's example by touching leprosy victims with food, medical care, and the eternal healing of the Gospel. It is an outreach that truly makes a difference to some of the most unfortunate people on the face of the earth.
AMG India's director, Arun Kumar Mohanty, explains how this work is carried out:
"AMG believes we are doing God's will by taking care of thousands of lepers in Chilakaluripet, Rajamundry, and Visakhapatnam areas. They are shunned by society and forced to form leper colonies, and their children are not allowed in local schools. AMG has started leprosy relief and rehabilitation projects and their children are offered an education. AMG also shares the Gospel every time we visit a leper colony and many victims have found hope of eternal life in accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior."
Among leprosy's scourges are severe cataracts, often resulting in a victim's blindness. To help with this, AMG India operates the Kadyum Eye Hospital to compassionately restore sight. Patients are treated for all manner of vision problems, and medicines and glasses are made available at no cost if needed. As a result, patients regain their lost sight, enabling them to return to normal life and work with confidence.
Tim Schoap, a pastor from Tennessee, recently visited AMG's leprosy ministry while participating in this year's Hope for India conventions. He shares the following testimony:
"I had the privilege of seeing AMG India's ministry to men and women afflicted by leprosy first hand…an incredibly challenging, humbling, and ultimately encouraging experience.
"Leprosy is a terrible disease, destroying the body bit by bit. At the Valley of Love and Bethesda leprosy centers, many men and women had only stubs of hands, feet, or arms. Some were terribly deformed in ways that pass description.
"I saw God's care for these people poured out in very tangible ways: human contact without flinching or complexity, food so they wouldn't have to beg, God's Word preached and a place to worship, schools for their children. Their response was summed up by an ancient woman, disfigured, blind, so hunched over she appeared no bigger than a child, who, upon being given a small bag of oranges, responded with a song about Jesus' faithfulness to her when everyone else had abandoned her.
"AMG India is doing world-class work, truly giving the Gospel wings in a country that is generally hostile to it. They are reaching out to the neediest of the needy, being the church to the outcasts of India. There is no greater testimony to the power of the Gospel."
We at AMG believe true ministry often consists of serving those who could never repay the service they receive, just as Christ served us by sacrificing Himself for our sins. Ministry to leprosy victims is a perfect example of this work-the service they receive is a pure blessing to them, and is an ongoing work with outcomes that are not always seen in this life. The value of each of these souls to Christ, however, is eternal.
To learn more about AMG's ministries around the world and how you can provide life-changing medical care and other services to leprosy victims, please visit www.amginternational.org or call 1-800-251-7206.
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