"Let us finish what Jesus started!" - was the motto of the visit to Bangladesh by the Anglican Bishop of Peterborough in the UK. Bishop Donald Allister visited the slums of Dhaka with the Director of the Leprosy Mission of England. He took part in screening campaigns, meeting people living in extreme poverty, water shortages and without health care. The Bishop, who is Vice President of the Leprosy Society of England in his country, has made it his mission to eradicate leprosy and end the unjustified suffering.
As the President of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, has set 2030 as the target date to end the disease in the country, Bishop Allister has made a related appeal to the leaders of the Christian churches in Bangladesh to stand in the battlefield and give all the help they can to achieve this noble goal.
"Let us finish what Jesus started!" - the Bishop stressed in Dhaka. "Let us step out of the comfort of our churches and go where Jesus went: to the suffering, the poor, the sick! Let us reach out our helping arms to them, as Jesus did! Some of what Jesus did is beyond our power. But some things are! For example, we can heal lepers today ! If we fail or delay to do so, we sin against the command of our Lord, who entrusted us with this : " ...cleanse the lepers ! " (Matthew 10,8)
According to WHO statistics, 3 500 people in Bangladesh were diagnosed with leprosy in 2018. According to local experts, this number should be much higher, as only a minority of patients reach diagnosis! This is why all means of raising awareness are needed - including Bishop Allister's!
The Bangladesh Leprosy Federation has developed a screening programme with partners, including the UK member organisation. They set up their mobile clinics in public, in the most congested places, so that more of the travelling, onlooking population can witness the screenings and the information that is given. This is a very important strategy to reduce their prejudices and fears!
"It has been a great privilege for me to meet with Jesus-spirited doctors and health workers in the Bangladesh Leprosy Mission!" - said Bishop Allister. "I am confident that the leaders of the churches have understood the call and will tear down the millennia-old walls of prejudice in Bangladesh with their zeal, wisdom and power of their word!"