The Leper

  • Aug. 8, 2013
  • #8159

Sometimes we wonder how we can love others the way Jesus loved. Hear how a missionary to China showed Christ’s love to a man with leprosy.

The Leper

I wonder… have you ever met or even touched a leper?

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and my friend Brian, he’s area director for Joni and Friends Eastern Pennsylvania office, certainly had never met one. And never in all his life did he imagine that he would have the opportunity to bond with a man with leprosy, but it happened. Our Wheels for the World team was in China delivering wheelchairs and Bibles, and one of the side trips was a two-hour car ride into the mountains to visit the ancient ruins of what was once a Buddhist monastery, but now, is the home of 25 lepers—all of them rejected by their families and living together now as a group of outcasts.

Brian was assured that not a single person was contagious, but still there was some fear and a little suspicion—especially when the medical team began to go to work removing the bulky, soiled bandages and peeling away the dead skin on the hands and feet of the lepers. Brian really wanted to help, but he didn’t know exactly what to do; he wasn’t skilled enough to apply ointment and a bandage to the affected sores. He so badly wanted to reach out and touch these people in the same way the Lord Jesus would have touched them; he hoped to let them know that they were loved and valued and respected.

So Brian stood by feeling a little awkward with his hands in his pockets. Oh my goodness, but that’s when he discovered the comb in his pocket. He never carries a comb. But for some reason that morning he had taken a little plastic comb that they have on those hotel bathroom sinks and he put it in his pant pocket, just unthinking. When he felt that comb in his pocket, he knew what he could do. He walked up to a Chinese man who was in his 30’s and through an interpreter, Brian asked him, “May I comb your hair while the helper works on your feet?” The Chinese man gave a feeble smile and nodded yes; he had a beautiful full head of black hair. And so at that point, Brian was able to reach out and touch a leper. At that moment, they connected and Brian started combing his hair, and then giving him a head and a neck massage. He continued this routine until the man’s feet were all finished being bandaged. It was at that point Brian and the leper hugged, and they exchanged a double hand-over handshake and then Brian took a look at his comb and gave the man, the leper, his comb. Brian was overwhelmed with feelings of joy and also sorrow all at the same time. He told me that never in his life did he feel more like Jesus.

It’s not unlike the story in Mark 1:40-41 where it says:

“A man with leprosy came to [Jesus] and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. I am willing, He said.” (Mark 1:40-41)

Sometimes all it takes to be like Jesus is a simple touch, a hug, a double hand-over handshake and, well … a comb. It’s a way of bridging the distance, of closing the gap between yourself and an outcast, that is, a person no one else is interested in touching. Friend, if you’d like to see a photo of Brian, and the man with leprosy who lives in the mountains of China, I want you to visit me today at joniandfriendsradio.org. I'll post this really fantastic photo so you can see the smile on this man’s face and the way my friend Brian is sharing with him the touch of Jesus. Again, that’s joniandfriendsradio.org. And from Brian and the rest of us at Joni and Friends, thank you so much for taking the time today to bridge the distance and close the gap between you and that person no one else is reaching for Christ.

© Joni and Friends. Previously aired as Program #7117 on 08/11/09.

 

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