"They help us in many ways," Rushil says. "They don't hate us, or they don't feel disgusted when they come to our colony. … [Other people] don't like us; they don't want to come near us. But Sister Prashanthi and the team come, and they love us. They stay with us. They eat with us. They mingle with us.
The day Prashanthi entered the leprosy colony, she knew being Christ's hands and feet to these beleaguered people was her purpose in life. She remembered the days when she had seen the plight of leprosy patients on the television and how her heart expanded with emotion for them. This was where she wanted to be.
"Whenever I go to the leprosy colony," Prashanthi says, "my heart fills with joy and happiness to serve these people. … If I don't go and help them, I feel restless. The Lord has put that kind of passion and burden in my heart."
For more than three years, Prashanthi has been cultivating relationships with the women and men living in the leprosy colony. She and other Sisters of Compassion cook, clean, fetch water, trim nails, disinfect and dress leprosy wounds, and even feed those who have been left helpless by the disfiguring disease. But more importantly, they are sources of encouragement; listening ears; friends to laugh with; "daughters" who selflessly and unconditionally love; and ministers of God's Word, offering hope to otherwise hopeless people.
Pramada has been living in the leprosy colony for around 30 years—since the day her family rejected her for becoming affected by the disease.
"All my relatives, including my husband and my children, started to hate me," Pramada recalls. "They started to avoid me and said, 'You don't use our plates. You don't sleep with us. You have to live separately. You cannot mingle with us.' … Nobody comes and visits me, and I am not able to go there because I am sick; I am affected by leprosy. This is the world that I live in; this is my world."
"Lord, you have given me life. You have given me hands. You have given me legs. All my body members are given by You, and I want to use it for Your glory. … You have given me two legs, and I want to walk for you. You have given me a mouth, and I want to say Your words to people."
But the day Pramada met Prashanthi and her team of Sisters of Compassion, Pramada's world changed.
"I feel like Prashanthi is like my own family member," Pramada says, "because the way she serves us. Not only does she help in cooking and feeding and doing all these things, but her love is like my own family member. … That really encourages me, to feel that somebody loves us so much and cares for me and spends time with us."
That sentiment is echoed among all who know Prashanthi. Beyond serving in the leprosy colony, Prashanthi serves in nearby villages tutoring children, teaching literacy classes to adult women, praying for people in the hospital, providing income-generating gifts to widows and fathers, and meeting needs wherever she sees them.
In one area, she is known as "Jesus Sister" because, as she prayed long ago, she speaks His words to people.
"Her God Jesus that she talks about, He is a loving God and caring God," says one widow impacted by Prashanthi's ministry. "God's love I can experience through Sister Prashanthi's life. How she loves and cares for us and the poor and the needy, that shows me that her God is a loving God, and Jesus is a God who cares for people like us."
Being Christ's hands and feet to these beleaguered people was her purpose in life
As Prashanthi lives out Christ's life by touching those with leprosy, speaking with them in the middle of a busy marketplace, letting them know she sees them and is not ashamed by them, she's helping others experience the goodness of the Lord and His redemption.
"My only hope," Prashanthi says, "is that [they will come to know] the Lord, who died for them to save every man, whether small or big, poor or rich."
Due to the nature of how leprosy impacts people, some of the images may be graphic in nature. Viewer discretion may be needed.
"I used to get scolded [by my] school teacher," reflects Ashima, pictured above. "Sometime my teacher used to ask me to stand outside the class as punishment because I didn't bring needed things like paper, books, pencil—whatever is needed in the class. ... I used to feel very ashamed and discouraged."
Mahavir stared at his gift. Proper shelter for his family was just within his grasp, but something troubled him. He came to the GFA-supported Christmas gift distribution in desperate need of tin sheets, but now that he had them, he realized he faced another problem.
My 12-year-old heart felt it. It was real, yet so distant and vast. I was swept away by the incredible love God held for precious people in Asia, and I was heartbroken. There was nothing else I could do but kneel on my bedroom floor and weep and pray for those who didn't know the love I knew.
*Names of people and places may have been changed for privacy and security reasons. Images are GFA stock photos used for representation purposes and are not the actual person/location, unless otherwise noted.Previous Article Next Article