Have You Ever Hugged A Leper?

As I am preparing for my 15th mission trip to India, I am spending time reflecting on the great things God has done on my previous trips. I remember one day in 2007, on my very first trip to India:

I remember on that trip personally seeing and experiencing things that I had only heard about or read about. On one particular day, God allowed me to see the part of His Kingdom that He loves the most, what most Americans don’t get to see. It shook my soul.

That morning, I had accompanied a local pastor to a very poor area that included a settlement for crippled people. We stopped and spoke with people who had all kinds of physical limitations – twisted limbs, turned feet, unusable limbs – and shared God’s love, then asking if we could pray for them. Just about everyone in the village was Hindu, and the concept of a Savior who not only could forgive sins and heal was very foreign.

A few hundred meters away was a leaper colony, and we went there next. We walked through the village, stopping to speak to people, and groups would form. The pastor would share the Gospel, and then I would lay hands on and pray for the leapers. I remember my heart was so moved with compassion as I saw these outcasts, whom no one loved or wanted to be near.

After I had prayed for the first man, I heard the Lord say to me very clearly, “Hold him.” And so I wrapped my arms around the man and held him for a few minutes. I did this for all of the leapers that I prayed for.

(The Indian culture isn’t big on hugging, so this was very strange for them. Added to that, they were leapers and had not had any human physical contact for perhaps decades.)

When we were leaving, and walking back to the pastor’s car, an old leprous man who had been banished to the colony for over 40 years, came out to the road, hobbling on a stick he could hardly hold. He had heard that we were praying for people, and hugging them. He said: “Pray for me!” I did, and as I held him he put his head on my shoulder and began to cry.

And so India beckons, again....

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