Radio Reflection – 18th November 2015


The Disease of Being Unwanted…
 
Mother Teresa, an icon of Christian compassion, once said: “we have drugs for people with diseases like leprosy. But these drugs do not treat the main problem, the disease of being unwanted.”

60 years ago, against the wisdom of his medical colleagues Dr. Paul Brand began to treat leprosy patients in the shabby annex on the side of the hospital where he worked in Tamil Nadu, India. His work had to be shrouded in secrecy. Nobody… not even caring medical staff… wanted leprosy patients near the hospital. Paul puzzled over the lack of emotions every one of his patients showed. There was no anger and no resentment at the deplorable treatment they received from everyone they met.

Mother Teresa once said: “we have drugs for people with diseases like leprosy. But these drugs do not treat the main problem, the disease of being unwanted.”

Against the wisdom of his medical colleagues Dr. Paul Brand began to treat leprosy patients in the shabby annex on the side of the hospital. He puzzled over the lack of emotions every one of his patients showed. There was no anger, no resentment at the deplorable treatment they received from everyone they met.

The men and women who Paul met, rarely experienced the compassion of others. They began to see themselves as others saw them – without humanity, despised, rejected, worthless.

Wellesley Bailey, who started the Leprosy Mission, wrote these words in his diary:

If ever there was a Christ-like work in the world it was to go amongst these poor sufferers… diseased and destitute, cast out by friends, regarded as accursed by the gods, afflicted with a loathsome and incurable disease, … surely of all men the most in need of our pity and help.

One day, Paul Brand teased a young man as he was treating his leprosy. The patient was a bright young man. Placing his hand on the boy’s shoulders, Dr. Brand told him, in broken Tamil, that while he could be healed, some of the facial deformities would not go away. That’s when the teasing began as Paul said “men don’t have to worry about faces. It’s the women who fret over every bump and wrinkle.”

The young man collapsed, shaking with sobs.

Confused, the Doctor was terrified that he had said something very wrong. His assistant, fluent in Tamil, asked the young man why he was crying. He said: “You put your hand around my shoulder. Until today, for many, many years, no one has touched me.”

A man with leprosy came to Jesus, begging for healing. Jesus did not run away. He did not back off in frightened horror. He reached out and touched the man and cured him of leprosy. Today, through the work of The Leprosy Mission, Christ’s restorative touch is still brought to the outcast.

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More Reflections for Leprosy Awareness week 2015:

Monday 16th: Guineaworm…

His father tugged at a tiny protrusion on the boy’s skin. Leaning forward, Paul looked closely and saw that the dark brown thing was the head of a worm. His dad was pulling a worm out of the boy’s skin…

Read more

Tuesday 17th: Giant…

Paul Brand was prepared to walk against the tide to ensure that men, women and children who suffered from the world’s oldest known communicable disease could live with hope and dignity…

Read more

Thursday 19th: Pain…

As a medical doctor, Dr. Brand saw a lot of pain. As a young boy he swore never to be a Doctor but to run from pain and live in comfort. But his life experience and God’s hand upon his life changed everything.

Read more



Radio Cover Photo: By Gregory F. Maxwell PGP:0xB0413BFA [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons;
Children: By Rafael Robles [CC-BY-2.0];
Mother Teresa: By Manfredo Ferrari (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons;
Drawing pins: By Coldbolt (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons