Ministry Offers Hope of Christ to Victims of Leprosy
- Thursday, December 15, 2005
A ministry that provide humanitarian aid to thousands in India is reaching out to children of lepers in that country. Currently there are an estimated four and half million victims of leprosy in India.
To reach to that suffering community, Hopegivers International plans to build what it calls a "hope center for Lepers." The center will be built in New Delhi and is described as a city within a city. It will include a school and orphanage, along with micro enterprises such as farming and landscaping, poultry raising, and other trades. Hopegivers president Samuel Thomas says because of the project, many lepers will have the opportunity to hear about Christ.
Thomas says that outside of such an enclosed community, lepers face many societal obstacles that hinder transmission of the gospel message. "How can we give them dignity instead of sending them on the street?" he asks. "No Indian wants to see in India the lepers are begging at the train stations."
The ministry spokesman explains that Hindus and other people in India believe that lepers have been inflicted with the terrible disease because of "bad works" that they have done in the last birth. "As a result of the bad karma, [they believe] God is punishing them with leprosy," he continues. "But we as Christians look at lepers as an opportunity for us to minister to them and lead them to the Lord."
Ministry to lepers, says Thomas, takes more than mere words. "So what happens is, these lepers, when they have decaying fingers, sometimes they lose the hand all the way to the elbow or to the shoulder. To that leper, you go and tell them, 'Jesus loves you.' He looks at you and says, 'Yeah, right; if He does, why is this happening?'"
According to Thomas, the key to reaching a leper for Christ is through the leper's children. "The best way [to minister to a leper] is to take the children who are born to leprosy [and who are] in the leper home," he says. "If you are taking them before they reach the age of puberty, they are immune to leprosy.
"At Hopegivers ... we rescue children," he continues. "[We] go to homes of lepers, take their children, keep them away from the parents, [and] give them a better, cleaner environment."
The $5 million project for the leper hope center will be located on a 25-acre site. Hopegivers already operates 20 leprosy colony outreaches in India, and claims to have performed outreach to 500 leper colonies, touching the lives of thousands of lepers and their children.
Hopegivers International (www.hopegivers.com)
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