Outcasts

Abandoned on the side of the road in her condition was effectively a death sentence.  In Kenya, and throughout Africa, it's said that everyone is directly affected by HIV/AIDS.  Many still mistakenly believe that it can be spread by touch.  In some villages, those with HIV/AIDS are forced to live outside of town and away from their families.


The New Hope Village outside Mbingo Baptist Hospital in Cameroon is a leper colony.  Shunned and feared by their own family, those with Hansen's disease are left to fend for themselves.  For centuries, lepers have been treated as the untouchables. 


Imagine a life where everyone you met was afraid of being too close to you.  Imagine going weeks, months or even years without physical contact.  People walk by as if you don't exist.  Even when you're acknowledged, it's with a frown of disapproval.  Even friends and family illogically believe that they'll catch your condition just be being close to you.  Some may even believe that you're deserving.


Sadly, this is what the homeless face everyday in America, this great land of opportunity.  Many of us find comfort with the justification that they brought it on themselves.  Our thinking implies that since they deserve their condition we have no obligation to help.  They just need to buck up and work harder, right?


Throughout Scripture, we, of the faith, are told again and again to care for the hungry and the downtrodden.  (See Prov 25:21, Matt 25:35, Matt 25:42, James 1:27....and so on)  Our calling is to love our neighbors without condition.  Where would we be, as believers, if our Heavenly Father imposed the same conditions for his love?  We are called to love without judgment...a love that requires action.  It's not enough to say that we give to charities and do no harm.  We must not cross the street to avoid the downtrodden.  As His light, we are called to walk to them and give them hope.


In Kenya, the "Samaritans" at HEART rescued the woman from the side of the road.  Today, after some vocational training provided by HEART, she's able to support herself and her loved ones.  More importantly, she has hope.


In Cameroon, the Baptist Convention provides the residents of New Hope with the health care required.  However, the healing that matters most comes from the visitors who reach out to touch them.  After all, aren't we all to follow Jesus's lead?

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