Smallpox. Polio. Plague. Tuberculosis. Leprosy. Vaccines and cures now exist for all these once-terrifying diseases. But one, leprosy, remains deadly because of the stigma it still carries, especially in India.

Thousands of people live in that country’s 1,000 leper colonies while their children live in orphanages even though they are healthy and may have two living parents.

Leprosy, now known as Hansen’s disease, still horrifies many societies much as it has for more than 4,000 years. In Christ’s time lepers were forbidden inside city walls. If they traveled even a short distance they would call out, “Unclean! Unclean!” warning passersby to keep their distance. Today we know that leprosy is caused by a bacteria, is view of the hands of a person with leprosynot seriously contagious and can be completely cured by a course of medication over as little as a month. There is no reason to forcibly quarantine lepers other than superstition and ignorance.

That’s of little help to Hansen’s disease sufferers in India and their children. Of all the countries where it still occurs, age-old and wrong ideas prevent early diagnosis and treatment, usually forcing its victims to beg for a living. Sometimes beggars refuse treatment because they are already disfigured, and denied any other livelihood. Before being stricken with leprosy, many sufferers had families. As a consequence, their children share the shame and are usually forced onto the streets because their parents can no longer care for them, nor will society.

Many Christian orphanages in India take in these children, often in locations far from their parents so neighbors will accept them as normal people. While physically whole, these children carry scars in their hearts, psychological damage much worse than leprosy’s outward decay. Because most orphanages, however well-meaning, do not have the money to provide more than food and shelter, that damage goes untreated.

So, despite their physical health, these orphans – children of leprosy patients – are seriously disadvantaged by their heritage. David C Cook’s J127 Orphan Initiative is specifically designed to ease those hurts, present the love of Jesus and provide the orphans with emotional and practical tools for life in the real world.

Update: In 2018, David C Cook transferred oversight of the J127 clubs to an in-country partner which continues to shepherd and grow this program. By supporting David C Cook’s Life on Life curriculum, you will be helping support this program as well.

Update: In 2018, David C Cook transferred oversight of the J127 clubs to an in-country partner which continues to shepherd and grow this program. By supporting David C Cook’s Life on Life curriculum, you will be helping support this program as well.

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