Let’s finish what Jesus started

Today’s reflection is from Gareth Shrubsole, Senior Programme Manager at The Leprosy Mission England & Wales.

“Let’s finish what Jesus started”

This has become a big motivation for my work at The Leprosy Mission. After centuries of fighting this cruel and highly stigmatising disease it’s exciting to see that we could soon have the means to defeat it completely. That means a lot to me, that idea of progress, of doing what we can to make life better for other people, especially those who are so often ignored, rejected or even abused simply because they got an illness.

The Leprosy Mission is like a family.

We’re all quite different from each other, and some of us are even a bit strange! – But we have a common purpose and that gives us great love and friendship with all others who share that purpose, wherever in the world we find them.

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Gareth Shrubsole with colleagues from Chanchaga Orthopaedic Workshop, Nigeria.

I do a lot of travelling in this job which is both exciting and tiring, usually to India and Nigeria. What I love is the opportunity this gives to build relationships with our global partners. After a while some of the places can start to look the same, and then it’s the people who stand out, especially when you start to see how your work is making an impact.

When you see someone lying on a hospital bed in abject suffering and then you see them again 6 months or a year later, sometimes still in the same hospital and other times back in their community; but either way looking healthier and sounding more confident, that’s really rewarding. Especially when you see the real miracles like people regaining the use of their hands after reconstructive surgery or whose sight is restored by cataract surgery.

When you meet an old woman who says she used to beg to survive, but now she’s running her own shop and has spoken out on a public stage – both to demand her rights and to encourage others like her not to succumb to the silence, stigma and shame.

When these things happen that’s when we see God’s hand in the work we do.

When Jesus walked the earth he healed people with leprosy, encouraged the broken-hearted and welcomed in the outcast, sometimes all in the course of a single day. For us mortals it’s harder and can take much longer, but that makes it all the more rewarding when you get to see such transformations happening.

We have a lot of fun in our office, there’s a lot of laughter and often cake, but – like any other office – our day to day work involves spreadsheets, reports, budgets, meetings and many hours staring at a screen. These things can easily get you down, and the commute home in heavy traffic after a long day at the office is as tedious in this job as it would be in any other.

The big difference is that it really is all worth it.

Not only do we get to work with and for so many inspiring and wonderful people, but when we do get to sleep at night we can do it with the satisfaction that we’re making a difference. That’s the real X-factor!


The true meaning of Easter

Today’s Easter Sunday Reflection is by Josh Waddup.

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Easter is a time of year that brings many memories from my childhood, good and bad. Finding out that the Easter bunny doesn’t visit my house and breaking my nose on a tennis pole after getting slightly over excited during a very intense Easter egg hunt all in the same year is likely to stay as the worst memory I have.

Now that I am older, the memories that I have are less so about the chocolate eggs and other goodies and mean that I can reflect upon the story within the bible and the life that Jesus lived. Going back to the first time I heard the Easter story in Sunday school was obviously a hard story to get my young mind around. I came to best understand it with an imaginative open mind, accepting several things including Jesus is God on earth and Jesus is showing heaven on earth.

The miracle of the Easter story is one that allows us to reflect upon the incredible, inspiring and world changing life that Jesus Christ lived.

With the story of Easter and the life of Jesus in mind, I find myself thinking about the work carried out by the field workers of The Leprosy Mission all around the world. Within The Leprosy Mission, there are people working for God, with true love and care for everything they do and often making sacrifices to help those affected by leprosy and others in need of care.

I think specifically of Dr Joydeepa, an amazing lady who dedicated many years at the hospital in Purulia, not leaving for more than a night to make sure that patients received the care and love that they needed to put them on the correct road after illness.

Staff like Dr Joydeepa, are able to do this because of the help of our amazing supporters.

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Dr Joydeepa at Purulia Hospital, India

Stop, think, and pray

Today’s Lent reflection is by Nicky Ward.

As Lent comes to an end I want to introduce you to Rinika and her three-year-old daughter Sreta from Bangladesh.

At an age when children should be running around without too many cares in the world Rinika became different. At merely 8 years of age old she hurt foot whilst playing with her friends and realised there was no pain. She had leprosy! Unfortunately, though she got help, she didn’t finish taking the medicines she was prescribed.

Rinika suffered with fevers and pain, due to her body’s reaction to leprosy, not something that we normally think of but as the nerves become more and more damaged people often suffer a lot of pain. Rinika got ulcers as she was not caring for herself well enough and even fainted at school with a rash and fever due to the severity of an ulcer that would not heal. Eventually she had to have her leg amputated. That was 14 years ago.

Over the last 15 years she has had to spend much too much time in hospital as she has had many ulcers. Things got so bad that a year ago her right leg also needed to be amputated. She got the latest ulcers doing housework and looking after her little girl. Rinika does what she believes is right for her child and her husband but doing this means she doesn’t properly care for herself- “but what alternative do I have?” she asks. She regrets not taking the full MDT treatment when she was first diagnosed as she thinks it would have prevented her losing her legs.

“I was young, I played” she recollects. What more would we expect of a child?

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Rinika with her three year old daughter Sreta.

Each year over lent we have the opportunity to stop, think, and pray. We stop to consider our lives in reference to what we are taught in the Bible. We think about how we need to change what we do and how we live. We pray for God’s guidance as we look to Jesus example of true love for others.

Over the next few days we will have the opportunity to take in the story that tells of Jesus, pain and sacrifice because of love. We will hear about the scars that become the proof of love.

When I hear Rinika’s story. When I see her picture. I see the scars of love. Love for her child, a love that sacrifices health to care for another.

Jesus said ‘For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?

Today we have the gift of being able to meet Jesus in the lives of others like Rinika.

And this is such a wonderful gift. May we over the next few days, as we think about Jesus sacrifice for us, remember people like Rinika who live a life of sacrifice every day. Give a gift today.

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 Rinika at DBLM Hospital, Bangladesh