We walked into a village closed off from society. As we sat in their town hall, men and women of all shapes and sizes slowly walked in and sat in front of us. I was humbled by humility, sitting on a chair when I should have been sitting in the dirt with them. We began to hear stories of men without legs and women who stood by them through all the hard times. Of fathers missing fingers and daughters being put through university, the fathers never had.
We met with the village elders and felt their love. Felt their appreciation and shock that we would visit them. Leprosy is one of those diseases that spreads very slowly. It can only be spread to a tiny percentage of humanity, but it carries a stigma that pushes lepers to the edges of society. These men and women can’t work, they sometimes can’t even move. Often, when they humbly beg for food or water, they are ostracized so much that neighbours will just throw money to keep the lepers away from their houses.
After meeting with the whole village, we began going door to door to hear stories and hang out and pray. We spoke to a man with no legs who’s family deserted him. We spoke to a woman who’s husband ran away from her to save her from getting the disease too. She randomly found him in a hospital 7 years later and chased him after him when he went back to the village. She refused to live without him and is now a full member of the village without having the disease. We spoke to a man with fingers he can’t use. He spoke of how much he loved his daughter, and how all the money he can collect will be going towards sending her to school.
We met up as a team in the field behind the village near their water well. The well hadn’t been used in some time because there was a clay plug at the bottom that was going to cost a lot of money to dig through.
I feel like church denominations can be like leper colonies. We have these doctrinal stances that have been agreed to as a community to live and behave out of. They are human paraphrased stances on Gods truth. Sometimes they come from our life experience or our history with God
– if you haven’t seen miracles why would they feature in your doctrine?
– If we are socially liberal our doctrine will most probably be liberal.
– If we have a military background, or are fatherless, or farming in our backgrounds – these things flavour how we relate to God and how we will then conclude God is like….
But then we bump heads with a culture, a doctrinal position that differs from ours. And because we passionately love Jesus and want to live our lives for Him, we begin to fight and disagree. The situation easily goes sour and then we find ourselves avoiding a certain denomination because their boring, or lazy, or unbiblical. Our stance is inherited by our children and their children and in two generations you have bred into a whole denomination a stigma – the lepers. We refuse to help or relate to or even love this other denomination because if we go near them we will get infected and ostracized from “humanity”. We don’t want that, so we treat other humans like scum.
The lepers I met in India were humble, gentle and destined for greatness. There was no difference between the beautiful older lady who stood by her husband and my mother. Hanging with either never infected me with anything except a feeling of love and acceptance.
The times I have spent in different denominational groupings has done nothing but encourage my faith, pushed me further towards Jesus and given me things to think about.
Do I agree with everything everyone does? No.
But I’m learning more and more that Christians could be infectious in good ways. If we loved each other first, the Holy Spirit would have more freedom to move in amongst us and convict and encourage each other MORE AND MORE.