Leprosy still provides a mission field

Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Charlie Butts (OneNewsNow.com)

Leprosy may seem to belong to biblical times, but it's a mistake to believe the disease has been wiped off the planet.

There are still at least a quarter-million cases detected and probably at least double that number are not reported because of the stigma attached to the crippling disease. American Leprosy Missions spokesman Bill Simmons believes the Church is uniquely positioned to deal with leprosy because many times no one else will try. About 90 percent of the cases are in India, Brazil, and Indonesia.

"There are 130 or so countries around the world that still have leprosy [cases]," Simmons tells OneNewsNow. "In fact, even in the U.S., I think last year, 34 states in the U.S. documented one new case of leprosy."

The disease is caused by bacteria and is treated with a course of antibiotics. If left unchecked, it damages the nerves and leads to disabilities, loss of limbs and sight. Simmons notes part of Jesus' ministry was healing lepers.

"We feel like the ministry of working with people affected by leprosy is at the heart of what the Church can engage in, continuing to perpetuate the ministry and the Messiah-ship of Christ," he says.

"As a Church, we continue to demonstrate to the world that the Messiah is alive and well and works in and through the Church."

Donors not only assist in delivering the treatment for it and the gospel, but American Leprosy Missions has almost totally funded development of a vaccine for leprosy that will go to clinical treatment within the next year.

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