By Tim Collison
“Stretch out your hand to touch and heal them...” —The Leprosy Mission Prayer
The Leprosy Mission logo goes back to the 1920s or early 30s. It was designed as a woodcut by an English woman artist, Mabel Royd. This woodcut design represented Jesus and the man with leprosy who knelt at Jesus’ feet asking to be healed – and Jesus healed him (see Mark 1:40-42). It deeply expressed the heart’s desire of The Leprosy Mission’s Founder, Wellesley Bailey, who wrote “I felt if ever there was a Christ-like work in this world it was to go among these poor sufferers and bring to them the consolation of the Gospel”.
Grace Warren, a daughter of missionary parents, was a creative and practical child. She would make many of her own clothes as a young girl and teenager, play the piano and tinker away on finely-detailed embroidery or knitting. These skills she had learnt from her sister Helen and her mother. Helen insisted on the neat and tiny stitches that would later serve Grace in an unexpected and profound way.
Some of you will have already heard the story how The Leprosy Mission started. It’s a timeless drama—Christlike compassion inspiring everyday people to respond to a great need. Often it’s just a story that starts and ends with Wellesley Bailey (top-right). But the story is actually bigger than that. There were many people that helped make The Leprosy Mission what it is today. One of these people was Dr Morrison. Alice Grahame was another (top-left). Charlotte Pim, and her two sisters Isabella and Jane, were also central. But we’ll get to them a bit later.
Joe Eggmolesse is a third-generation Australian South Sea Islander. His grandparents came by ship to Australia in the late 1800s. His grandfather came willingly. But his grandmother, at 16 years of age, was taken by force in a practice called “blackbirding”. In Queensland and northern New South Wales, the sugar and cotton industries enslaved islanders. Around 60,000 people came to Australia as “indentured labourers” in this way. In 1901, the government enacted two White Australia policies. They tried to get rid of “Kanakas” (South Sea island workers). After half a century of blackbirding, the practice finally stopped.