Editor's note: Sister Zhang is a volunteer with an eight-year experience in caring leprosy survivors. In July 2009, she resigned from her job as a Chinese medicine doctor then walked into a leprosy rehabilitation village located in Shandong. Since then, she has served leprosy survivors scattered in more than 20 leper colonies across China and shared Jesus' love to the people.
Zhang experienced God's grace while nursing those people forgotten by the world. She confessed that she would rather die as a kernel of wheat so that others may live, which is the life value she has been looking for. The sister admits that she used to seek worldly glory. As a respectable doctor, suffering from ups and downs in her life as a doctor as well as from her rebellious child, she was once on tenterhooks and sit up all night... The situation lasted until 2004 when her father, who accepted the Gospel, preached to her.
Her father was evangelized when working out in the morning
One morning, a 94-year-old elderly person shared the Gospel with her father who was working out beside a river. He presenting him the Bible and a book entitled "Streams in the Desert".
That period of her father's conversion was the lowest time of her life. Looking at the book her father brought home, the name touched her. There was a change in her attitude towards Christianity. Although she was once bored with the religion, she walked into a church where she accepted the blessings of believers and felt God's love.
Since that time, she became a regular churchgoer and later participated in church ministries like visiting and reception. A deeper desire for service gradually generated in her heart.
Seeing lepers for the first time
In the middle of June 2009, she went to a leprosy rehabilitation village situated in Tengzhou, Shandong, somewhat accidentally. There, she saw those weak and miserable leprosy survivors for the first time. They were described exactly as how the verses in Isaiah 53 described lepers: "like a root out of the dry ground...no beauty or majesty ... despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised..."
"I took care of my father suffering from a stroke and I barely insisted on taking care of him after two or three months. I know the trouble of serving the elderly." It surprised her that the volunteers changed the clothes of the leprosy survivors, washed their bodies and dressed their wounds with smiles and great willingness. Once, she saw a sister who scrubbed the body of an old leprosy survivor without wearing gloves. Shocked by her courage, Zhang asked what if she got an infection because she did not have gloves. A volunteer, who serves the elderly all year around offered the answer through 1 John 4:18, "There is no fear in love". Deeply moved by the reply, she made up her mind to overcome her fears herself and to become a Christian with love.
Experiencing a lost-and-found miracle
Zhang brought her rebellious son to the colony where he could do something simple to serve the community. He learned endurance while life in the colony was too boring for a young man like him. At the end of 2010, the eighteen-year-old boy migrated to Guangdong for work. But sister Zhang lost touch with him after receiving a call from him, telling her that he found a job in a brick factory. There were no messages from her son after three months even if it was near the Chinese New Year. At that time, she moved to another leprosy colony in Taixing, Jiangsu from a rehab village in Huizhou, Guangdong. One evening, the verses of Jeremiah 31:16-17 came to her sight for several times: "This is what the LORD says: 'Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,' declares the LORD. 'They will return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your future,' declares the LORD. 'Your children will return to their own land.' "The verses comforted her very much.
When it was the day before the Chinese New Year, she couldn't wait and bought a ticket headed to Guangdong in search of her lost son.
She arrived in Guangzhou on the first day of the new lunar year, intending to seek through all the brick factories in the city. A clue reached her very soon and she found her son on the same day. Seeing her son, she was so excited like how the father was glad to return to the lost son in the parable of the prodigal son. She said that she would never have found her son without the help of the Holy Spirit and it would not have been so easy unless God prepared many good people to help her in her search. She felt grateful for this, knowing that the Heavenly Father watches over her all the time.
Touching moments during the service
Just after the 2011 Spring Festival, a local hospital of Dongguan, Guangdong needed volunteers to care for leprosy survivors. Planning to rest for some time, she had a thought: "If we want to share the glory of Christ in the future, we must have a part of the sufferings of Christ during this life. Since there is little time for us to work for God, our purpose should be to save Jesus' scattered and torn-apart flock and we should not regard any sacrifice as a significant thing. We must do the work as long as it is day because the night of hardship and pain is coming. It will be too late to work for God at that time."
The volunteers serve a special group. The majority of the leprosy survivors are the elderly with various complications, some of whom have no hands, legs or eyesight. They suffer from all-pervasive ulcers coupled with indifference and detest from their families and neighbors. Some of them even commit suicide. "Time is precious for us. We may lose the chance of saving a soul if we are one minute late." States Zhang.
Then she set off the next day. Arriving at the destination, she was immediately brought to take care of a 77-year-old leprosy survivor. The elderly woman was tortured by ulcer for six decades and has tried several suicide attempts. She was convulsing and groaning when she and the other volunteers saw her. Zhang began to clean her wound and wipe her body to cool her down. When she disclosed the gauze covering the ulcers, she was shocked by what she saw: "half of the hip was broken...the smelly odor was hard to bear. "
"The spiritual leprosy is more detestable than the fester in the body." Zhang adds.
Zhang applied a heat pack to the sores, partial evacuation of pus and massaged the aching nerves, along with a prayer. The process lasted for two hours. The fever left her and the pain was gone after the sores were binded up. So the news was spread widely. "Are you the angels sent by God?"
The people felt that it was a wonder and many believed in Jesus.
"I would rather die so that others may live."
In the past, Zhang claimed that she kept seeking the Lord to serve Him. Now she has found Him.
"This senior is the Lord and so is that elderly person. They bend their huddled bodies and spend forty or fifty years against black walls with 'marks'. Who are they waiting for when they are alive? People ask the question often and nobody knows the answer, but God is determined to save them."
She believes that these patients are the legacy Christ left for his church, who deserve care just as the Lord cares for them. "Who is willing to respond to God's calling by entering the unreached areas and do God's work with a firm and joyous heart? Who is willing to follow the steps of Jesus and do what Jesus did on the earth in every place that needs comfort, such as beside a patient's bed, in a poor man's house and in a packed alley?"
Through these years of service, she sees the world like a kernel of wheat: "Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. " (John 12:24) This is the life value she had been looking for -- "I would rather die so that others may live."
- Translated by Karen Luo