BY HUDSON MULLER*
He was puffing away on a cigarette, yet the experience was so beautiful. He sat there observing, with a halo of smoke surrounding him. I didn’t mind it, nor the singing that was terribly off key. It sounded incredibly beautiful to me. I was just thrilled that so many lepers had showed up for Sabbath worship today. And I was so thankful that Jesus “did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mark 2:17). A few weeks ago we had 28 lepers show up on Sabbath morning for worship. It was an unusually high turnout. We decided to encourage our volunteers to pray daily for 30 lepers to come the following Sabbath. To our pleasant surprise, 32 lepers show up the next Sabbath. We then decided to pray for 35 lepers to come the next Sabbath. And God had answered our prayers. We had 35 lepers worshipping with us today! And what a joy it was to see lepers who were coming to worship for the very first time. I can think of only one thing sadder than an abandoned, disfigured leper with missing limbs; that’s an abandoned, disfigured leper with missing limbs who does not know Jesus.
One of the highlights of each week for me is Sabbath morning when our missionaries go out working together as a team to invite the lepers to join us for worship. We have learned that we need to work together unitedly as a team. We make sure to visit every building and knock on every door. Some lepers do not respond to the first invitation. But some will come after the second or third invitation. We also recognized that the lepers respond better to those who are very warm and have the gift of hospitality. Therefore, we have these gifted individuals visit every room to give a second invitation to all the lepers.
I can’t wait for that day when we will one day be in heaven. There will be no more pain, no more tears, no more suffering, no more heartaches, no more disfigurement, no more leprosy. The lepers will have their limbs restored; they will be made whole. But until that day, I thank God that we can get a taste of heaven here on earth each Sabbath as we worship together. It is a joy to know that we are welcoming unseen angels, and also making music in heaven. Consider these words:
“As you open your door to Christ’s needy and suffering ones, you are welcoming unseen angels. You invite the companionship of heavenly beings. They bring a sacred atmosphere of joy and peace. They come with praises upon their lips, and an answering strain is heard in heaven. Every deed of mercy makes music there,” (Desire of Ages, p. 639.2).
Please pray for our work as we seek to reach many unreached lepers. Our greatest needs are twofold: 1) We need a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and 2) We need more consecrated laborers who can speak the local language.