By Zoe Bunter, former Head of Mission Development, The Leprosy Mission England and Wales
“I have never before met a person so close to death”. This was my thought as I stepped outside the leprosy hospital in Chanchaga, Nigeria. Kelechi was extremely sick and I had just met him inside the men’s ward.
To say that he looked skeletal would be an understatement. Leprosy had ravaged his body, he had lost the fingers on his hands and one leg had been amputated some years ago. But now he was also suffering from severe malnutrition caused by sickness and diarrhoea. Ulcers and wounds on his arm had become infected and his body had become weaker and weaker.
Inside the ward my colleagues and I had asked his permission to pray for him, and then we placed him before God, asking for his healing in the name of Jesus. I will be honest and tell you that I didn’t hold out much hope. I was expecting bad news imminently — later that day or in the
days that followed. He was in such a serious condition that we cannot show his photograph of that time.
On return to the UK I thought about Kelechi a lot — had he survived? What had happened to him?
It wasn’t until six months later, that a colleague who had met Kelechi with me, saw him again.
Kelechi had remained in the hospital after we left Nigeria and The Leprosy Mission team supported the hospital staff in ensuring that his nutrition was paid careful attention to in order for him to gain strength and weight.
For three months there was no food supply to the hospital from the local government so we stepped in and provided all the food to the hospital to ensure that all the patients, including Kelechi, survived.
Five months after I had met him, Kelechi was finally strong enough for surgery. The wounds on his left arm were beyond recovery and the infections inside the wounds were putting his life at risk. The arm needed to be amputated. He had his operation at the operating theatre funded by supporters of The Leprosy Mission, and it saved his life.
My colleague told of how he was sitting up (something that would have been unimaginable six months before), had put on weight, and was making a very good recovery from the operation.
Over and over again Kelechi said, “thank you”, thanking us and everyone who has helped him to survive such serious sickness.
“…Truly I tell you, if you have faith
as small as a mustard seed, you can
say to this mountain, ‘Move from
here to there,’ and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Kelechi has recovered well from the operation and is now a lot healthier.
I thank God for this miracle. I was so distressed by Kelechi’s dreadful condition when I met him that I lost sight of how big our God is – bigger than malnutrition, bigger than leprosy and bigger than death itself.
Our prayers were answered by God’s wonderful grace and he used His Leprosy Mission to help.
When we are faced by a situation that is shocking, distressing or full of anguish, our prayers can be loaded with desperation. There is barely any hope or faith at all.
But Jesus reminds us that a tiny amount of faith can achieve wonders.
So, in the darkness, pray. Even when the situation seems hopeless. Kelechi is living testament to the power of God to protect, heal and restore, even when the darkness threatens to overwhelm us.
Join us for National Prayer Weekend on the 24th– 25th of August 2019. For more information turn the page, or go online: leprosymission.org.au/prayer