After meeting three Christian sisters from a leprosy village last year and hearing that there are over 100 Christians volunteering there, I decided to visit and see it in person.
The two villages I visited were in Zaozhuang of Shandong Province, and Taixing of Jiangsu Province, in mid-December last year. I did see Jesus' unconditional love being shown through the Christian volunteers.
I followed two sisters and went from Beijing to the village in Zaozhuang on Dec.12, 2016 and met Mr. Pei, an aged man with disabilities in his feet. He welcomed me warmly after learning that I was on a special trip from Beijing. He is a leprosy survivor, and luckily he was attended by the founder of the International Volunteer Group for China, 84-year-old Korean Christian Kim Uk Kwon.
There were also Christian volunteers from Canada, Yanji, Guangxi, Guangdong, Hunan, and Shijiazhuang. Brother Zheng Wenjie, the leader of the Zaozhuang volunteer team, is an ethnic Korean from Yanji. He has been volunteering for ten years, along with his wife and son. Sister Lin Yi sold her house and car, and quit a lucrative job in Canada, donated a large fund for the volunteer team, and has been volunteering in the village for seven years. Every volunteer there has a touching testimony of faith.
At 5 am on Dec. 13th, the volunteers held a morning prayer and Bible study led by Brother Zheng. Zheng took inspiration from daily serving, asked questions and explained the Scripture. After that, the workers started their day by going to each of the rooms and emptying urine buckets, cleaning, and more. They only sat down to breakfast after serving and cooking for the seniors. Amongst the workers were a young woman born in the 80s and man born in the 90s who washed the pots and dishes and cleaned the kitchen. The young woman told me that she had never done housework at home.
The workers separated to serve different areas after breakfast. The young woman, a former white-collar worker, was doing the volunteer work once a week three years ago. She quit her job and became a full-time volunteer in July 2006. In the process, she saw the great love of Jesus from other workers there and developed her own faith. Her regular work each day is changing medicines.
Certain bedridden seniors have specially assigned volunteers. 61-year-old sister Peng Yin-e from Hunan is one of these. She told me that one senior got seriously ill last year, but recovered after being treated day and night by a caring couple. Now, that couple has been reassigned to another village so Peng took over the responsibility for that senior.
Almost all the survivors' walls were covered in verses from the Bible, and some rooms even had paintings of Jesus done by volunteer children.
Some of the seniors were able to recite Psalm 119, and even more could recite other important verses and sing hymns. The seniors learned to love Jesus because of the service of the Christian volunteers.
60-year-old brother Yuan read the Bible. He is the youngest leprosy survivor in the village and had an ulcer abscess on his back two years ago which the doctor said was not treatable. His relatives refused to attend to him even after being offered money, but volunteers cleaned his back and applied for medicine every day until he recovered. The happiest time for these seniors is when singing hymns with the volunteers.
Roh Jeong Hui is a South Korean woman who has been serving in Chinese leprosy villages since her graduation. On the 15th, I went with three other women from South Korea from the village in Feixian County, Shandong, to the village in Jiangsu. The common characteristic for them was that they followed after their own children had come to volunteer in leprosy villages, but they had now been there for several years. For them, being close to the patients is being close to Jesus.
I met Jin Song-en, an ethnic Korea young man from Yanji, in the afternoon on Dec. 16th. He was touched when he visited his younger brother after finishing his post-graduate who was volunteering at a village and saw the workers showing Jesus' sacrificial love. Jin has now been there for ten years as well. Korean volunteers show their love toward the leprosy survivors through body language. Qiao Hongxia and Roh Jeong Hui, for instance, help seniors shave, clean their ears, and clip their fingernails.
The prayer and praise after supper in Taixing were very beautiful and touching even in Korean. The volunteers told us touching stories of conversions and service in the leprosy village. They have walked a path of faith to serve the survivors and become volunteer workers to be close to Jesus; even though they could have lived more comfortably back home. They manifest God's love in a simple life.
- Translated by Grace Hubl