Privileged to HugThis story was written by one of our sponsors, Mike, following his visit to Brighter Future India in November last year, these are his reflections ..When I was training to be a doctor, a wise old physician gave me some interesting advice: "always, if appropriate, touch the person who is ill." Physical contact is so important, isn't it? It makes you feel accepted for what you are.
I was delighted last week when my 11-year-old grandson, who I was meeting from school, rushed out to meet me, and hugged me, in front of his friends. What a privilege! The problem with leprosy is that nobody wants to touch you, and this is especially true in a Hindu country like India. Leprosy is seen as a punishment for sin, and people with leprosy are avoided and bypassed at all costs.
Nobody knows precisely how leprosy is caught, but it seems that prolonged contact and extreme poverty are both prerequisites. So hugging somebody with leprosy carries no risks, while doing wonders for their morale! Visiting leprosy colonies with others from Brighter Future International Trust recently in Andhra Pradesh, was both a moving and exciting experience for me and my wife. Our friends from Brighter Future encouraged us to hug these lovely people, to hold their deformed limbs, and to show them that we did not find them repulsive, but we love them as our brothers and sisters. I shall never forget the looks of gratitude that we were given, and neither shall we forget the intense feeling of love that was generated in us. We found ourselves saying: "I care about you, you matter so much."
In St Mark’s Gospel Ch. 1 v 41 we read that Jesus , "filled with compassion, reached out and touched a man with leprosy." I realise not only that Jesus was doing something which was totally unheard-of in his day, but perhaps also I now have some faint inkling of the overwhelming love and compassion He must have felt towards these special people.
Could it be we experienced just a tiny fraction of how Jesus felt when we touched or hugged somebody with leprosy?Wow, what a privilege!Mike and Lynne(Mike is a minister and a doctor, his wife Lynne is a nurse)