Kit Blog

“If I didn’t take the opportunity it wouldn’t be right for the kingdom of God”

20 Dec 2021 | Author: The Leprosy Mission Australia

As a supporter of The Leprosy Mission Australia, you are joined with the wider Leprosy Mission family — a network of people around the world driven to show love and compassion to people with leprosy.

We’d love to introduce you to another member of our Leprosy Mission family. Dan Izzett is a pastor, speaker and long-term supporter of The Leprosy Mission England and Wales. But his story is quite unique — both he and his wife Babs have been treated for leprosy.

“Babs and I are originally from Zimbabwe and retired to Taunton a year ago to be near our two sons, Bruce and Christopher, and six grandchildren,” Dan shares with us. “Our story is unusual in the fact that leprosy is a disease that thrives where there is poverty. But this wasn’t the case for us. It wasn’t even a disease that was hugely prevalent in Zimbabwe.”

“When I first displayed symptoms in 1960, I ignored them. Then in 1970 I had a rash all over my body and the doctors told me I had syphilis. The doctors simply did not believe me when I told them that, as a newly married man, this was impossible. It took a leap of faith for Babs to believe me when I said she had been my only partner, but she did, despite the doctors’ insistence.

“When I was eventually diagnosed with leprosy I thought it was the honourable thing to tell Babs that I would understand if she wanted to have the marriage annulled. There was such prejudice surrounding leprosy. But she replied that, firstly, she loved me and secondly, we had made a vow before God at our wedding to stay together ‘through sickness and in health’.”

“I was working as a civil engineering technician at the time and was incredibly fortunate to be able to pay for treatment. Babs was diagnosed with leprosy in 1977. Thankfully it was treated at an earlier stage than my leprosy and she has no disability.”

Sadly Dan’s treatment came too late to prevent damage to his body.

“My fingers are clawed and I have no feeling in them. Last year I had a finger amputated soon after we moved to the UK. This was after an accident in a butcher’s shop in Harare, Zimbabwe.

“I was chatting to my friend the butcher with my hand resting on the wrapping machine. I could not feel it burning. As soon as we realised my friend packed it in ice. The burns did eventually heal,except for the middle finger of my right hand which got infected and had to be amputated.

I have had to learn to write three times. The first time as a child, the second after my hands clawed as a result of leprosy and a third time last year after my finger amputation.

“My right leg was amputated from below the knee many years ago. I mistakenly bathed my numb foot in a basin of scolding water. It got infected and needed to be amputated. Since then I have had 25 new prosthetic legs!

“Once you have leprosy you do struggle for the rest of your life. Only the other day I went for a cup of tea with a friend and still have a blister on my finger where it was resting on the side of the teacup. These little things happen the whole time.”

Despite the challenges it brought to their life, Dan and Babs have been able to see God’s light through their journey with leprosy.

“We are from Christian families but our faith was really enriched as a result of our leprosy journey. When I was first treated for leprosy I had a terrible reaction to the dead leprosy bacteria in my body.I had awful joint pain and lesions on my face and legs.

“I clearly remember feeling terrible in my hospital bed when suddenly the room lit up with an awesome light.

“Both my minister and Babs visited me later and asked me what was different. I told them what had happened and my minister said “I guess Jesus still visits those with leprosy”. Babs said she could see me positively glowing. After that my body really began to heal.

“Years later I was a pastor at a church when I felt prompted to do some awareness raising work for The Leprosy Mission. It felt the right thing to tell the church congregation our testimony. The church was full and people had driven two hours from Harare to hear it.

“We stood at the door of the church afterwards and every single person shook our hands and asked us over and over again “why did you not tell us before?”. It was very emotional. Since then I have used my testimony to raise awareness and funds for fellow leprosy patients in far less fortunate circumstances than me. Jesus said the truth will set you free. Ever since the day we started sharing our story we have had such freedom in our lives.”

 

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