The Ja­maican brothers and the lep­ers

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

Two of the Ja­maican brothers with lep­ers in East Ti­mor.

THE LO­CAL bishop of East Ti­mor asked the brothers to open up a new ministry in East Ti­mor for the lep­ers. It’s re­ally the spe­cial peo­ple that the Lord ad­dressed more than 2,000 years ago, and so we sent four brothers to be­gin a ministry ex­clu­sively for lep­ers in one of the poor­est coun­tries of the Far Eastern world. There was no hes­i­ta­tion from our brothers se­lected to go: Jimmy Pia, Elmer Du­palco, David Mas­sai and Guilly Tay­laran.

East Ti­mor is one of the few re­main­ing coun­tries where le­prosy is en­demic. How­ever, there is le­prosy in Far East coun­tries such as In­dia, the Philip­pines, Malaysia and In­done­sia. Brothers have en­coun­tered and cared for lep­ers in such coun­tries. But it is not as wide­spread as in East Ti­mor.

East Ti­mor is re­ally a part of the phys­i­cal coun­try, In­done­sia, but it re­ceived in­de­pen­dence re­cently. It is Chris­tian how­ever, whereas In­done­sia, where our brothers are al­ready work­ing, is mostly Mus­lim.

There is well over 10,000 new cases of le­prosy that have been dis­cov­ered in East Ti­mor over the last 10 years. The brothers have found fam­i­lies of lep­ers as well as in­di­vid­u­als; lit­tle chil­dren, men, women who are young, as well as old-timers. The brothers re­ported that one of the dif­fi­cul­ties for lep­ers is that there is so much poverty in East Ti­mor. There is poor san­i­ta­tion, poor diet and poor hy­giene, which affect the peo­ple’s im­mune sys­tem — which make them sus­cep­ti­ble to catch­ing le­prosy.

WORK­ING WITH POOR

The Ja­maican brothers are called ‘Ja­maicans’ be­cause all are trained in Ja­maica, the found­ing coun­try of Mis­sion­ar­ies of the Poor. We work with the poor­est of Ja­maican peo­ple and are also known to sing Ja­maicans songs. The brothers are brave and self­less in fac­ing new chal­lenges.

At the mo­ment, they live in a rented house and go daily to work on the land given to them by the lo­cal bishop, while two oth­ers go off in the streets bring­ing food and clothes, com­fort­ing the lep­ers, pray­ing with them and giv­ing them hope.

The brothers are pa­tient. They go among the lep­ers – some who drag their bod­ies along the dirt ground or side walks; some with pushed-in noses; some, though young, with bald heads. Of­ten, their skins are brown with white patches that spread as the le­prosy in­creases; oth­ers have flat­tened noses, as the bones are eaten away by the bac­te­ria.

Strangely, the lep­ers are not hated or scorned by the peo­ple, but are not helped be­cause of the over­all poverty of the peo­ple.

As for the lep­ers them­selves, Brother Jimmy and the brothers find them gen­tle, cheer­ful, hum­ble, and ten­der­hearted with each other and the brothers them­selves.

Pray for the Ja­maican brothers, we are about to set up a monastery there. It’s a com­mit­ment for life. When we go to coun­tries, we es­tab­lish our­selves per­ma­nently.

God grant us the strength and the means to go on. God grant our brothers with the courage and the love of God and neigh­bour to con­tinue the min­istries to the poor­est peo­ple all over the world. May the light of Christ shine for­ever in our lives.

I am in Char­lotte, North Carolina, with our Moses pro­duc­tion to raise funds for that new home in East Ti­mor. It takes place on Novem­ber 4-6 and in­for­ma­tion can be had on the web­site: mosesin­char­lotte.org. Please pray for us!

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