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The Need for Leprosy Ministry

Tens of thousands of people in Asia suffer from leprosy. This bacterial infection not only affects the skin and destroys nerves, but it also brings incredible, unbearable shame for many who get sick.

Because the disease affects the nervous system, the areas of a person's body affected with leprosy become numb to many things that ordinarily cause pain. When people suffering from leprosy can no longer feel pain, they can easily injure themselves. These injuries can become infected, resulting in tissue loss. Ultimately, people with leprosy can lose portions of their fingers, toes and even limbs.

The social stigma can be devastating—perhaps even worse than the disease itself. In their time of need, men, women and even children may be expelled from their homes and shunned by their community when leprosy is discovered on their bodies.

Leprosy can be cured without permanent damage if medical help is sought immediately. Unfortunately, the shame and social stigma surrounding the disease can cause leprosy to be viewed not as a curable disease but as a curse. In remote places and among the poor, diagnosis and treatment often come too late.

More than 200,000 new cases of leprosy are reported each year.
80 percent of people affected by leprosy live in Brazil, India and Indonesia.1

1 Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases

How We’re Helping Leprosy Patients

GFA-supported leprosy ministry started as a small effort in 2007 to help a few people suffering with leprosy. Pastor Tarik Paul helped lead it at the beginning, and now “Reaching Friends Ministry” quickly became one of the largest GFA-supported ministries in that region.

“We thought we would name the ministry differently, where they won’t have to remember their sickness or feel the stigma of it. So while praying and discussing, we thought, ‘Let us call them “friends” because they have been created in the image of God, like us. It is only the sickness that keeps them different, but let us not make that a barrier. Let us accept them as friends.’” —Pastor Tarik Paul, who helped start Reaching Friends Ministry

God does not see people afflicted by leprosy as cursed. Instead, He loves them enough to send Jesus to die for them. National missionaries reflect that love to people affected with leprosy. They are taking time to meet their needs, hold their hands, pray for them and treat their wounds. GFA-supported workers care for leprosy patients through social and relief work, such as distributing food, providing medical aid, teaching health- and hygiene-awareness programs, and facilitating adult education and tutoring centers for children.

A Daily Meal

GFA-supported workers provide leprosy patients with hot, nourishing meals.

Medical Care

To prevent further infection, medical workers regularly clean wounds and provide medical care to leprosy patients.

Practical Help

Workers help with everyday tasks like washing dishes, doing laundry or trimming fingernails for those who are unable to do it themselves.

Sister Geeta, Mending the Wounds and Hearts of Leprosy Patients

"Whether it's a literacy class, Sunday School, or cleaning their wounds, we do all of this because of the love of God."
—Geeta, a Sister of Compassion

Sisters of Compassion, specially trained women missionaries, joyfully live their lives in impoverished areas such as slums and leprosy colonies. Sister Geeta is only one of many women who have faithfully dedicated their entire being to serve people suffering from leprosy, as well as others who share the same hardships.

The Impact of Leprosy Ministry

GFA-supported leprosy ministry, or Reaching Friends Ministry, helps remind people affected by leprosy that they have dignity and are valued by God. They aren't defined by their disease. When leprosy patients learn Jesus cares about them personally, many want to put their trust in Him and be defined by who Jesus says they are: treasured.

Fellowships of believers from leprosy colonies meet for worship.

The Lord has blessed this leprosy ministry tremendously. Patients have found healing, compassion and love, which equips them to live with more hope in the future. In many of the colonies, fellowship groups of believers now regularly gather for worship.

Jesus always ministered to the poor and rejected, inviting them to become children of God. Let us follow in His footsteps.

2018 Report: 1,226 Leprosy Colonies in Asia Supported

"Sakshi was actually diagnosed with leprosy when she was just a teenager... She felt a burden placed on her heart to go and minister to other leprosy colonies." —Grace, a behind-the-scenes missionary with GFA (SA)

We are so grateful for dedicated missionaries like Sakshi who serve these precious people who are rejected and downtrodden simply because of the disease of leprosy.

You can read Sakshi's testimony here »

Your gift to GFA-supported leprosy ministry enables national workers to meet the basic needs of many patients and help them understand God's constant love!

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Pray for Leprosy Ministry

Let's pray that our friends in Asia will see themselves as God sees them: loved, precious and accepted. Here are some ways you can pray for the work GFA is supporting among leprosy patients.

Pray for Leprosy Ministry

Read Stories About Leprosy Ministry

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