By Steven Meredith, The Leprosy Mission Australia Board Chair
Thank you for the opportunity to share with you. Your compassionate support for people affected by leprosy continues to inspire me.
It has been a difficult and challenging time for many with the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic affecting us all.
Even more so will be the impact on those already affected by leprosy. In addition to battling leprosy, its stigma and discrimination, those we are trying to help also must now confront a virus which is swamping government health systems, creating more isolation in communities and disrupting drug therapies. In many cases employment or the ability to generate income through small family businesses has been lost.
At these times we can feel powerless and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of discouraging news stories and the tragic impacts on families, our staff, partners and the work in the field.
We can often feel alone – not sure of where to turn or what response to make, whether that be spiritual, material or financial. Leading The Leprosy Mission at times such as these can feel like working our way forward through a thick fog of uncertainty.
At times such as these I personally take comfort in the name for Jesus – ‘Immanuel’, God with us.
We know that God doesn’t promise a trouble-free life, we don’t always avoid trouble and strife. However, God does promise to be with us – the creator of the universe is with us today. When all appears lost, we are never alone.
One of my personal favourites is Psalm 91: 14-15:
‘Because He loves me’ says The Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble.’
There is also a need I feel to be replenished or ‘topped up’, to be sustained in the ongoing fight against leprosy. My Christian experience also tells me that in times when I feel overwhelmed or ‘empty’ that it is about seeking Jesus to help me find strength in him. Jesus gives us the gift of spiritual food and water to sustain us — we just need to ask. Jesus earned this the hard way for us on the Cross.
Isaiah 55:1 ‘Hey there! All who are thirsty; come to the water!’
So as we face the challenges of a New Year, uncertain of what is ahead, I thank God that He keeps me focused on serving those affected by leprosy. I am motivated by Christ’s example to love the poor and disadvantaged. I know you are too.
Please join in my prayer that God will continue to install compassion in our hearts and help us through our Leprosy Mission work to show Christ’s love to others through our actions.
‘Matthew 25: 40 ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’.
I remember that Jesus could be found with the outcasts, the poor, the overlooked and downtrodden. I pray that we will continue to be found along with our brothers and sisters in The Leprosy Mission, in the company of the same people for many years to come. God bless you.