Years back, the relatively long ride from Lagos to my school was usually filled with its thrills, frills, adventure and mixed feelings. For me, and depending on which direction the journey faced, it was usually of excitement or low energy. I had to master my routes with a game I made up for myself - “What’s The Next Landmark?” - and it was my own way of occupying myself throughout the journey.
We usually came to a boundary town between Ondo State and Edo State where there was a colony of people with Hansen’s disease (leprosy). That particular location had two impressions on me, every single time. The first was that it told me how close or far I was to my destination. If I was going, then it showed I was close to school; but if I was coming home, it told me I still had a long way to go.
But another strong(er) and unforgettable impression it made on me is the state of those people who pitched makeshift tents along the road begging for hand downs. Society has ostracized them for fear of infecting others like in the Bible days. They have been left ‘out of the camp’ to fend for themselves and live on the crumbs that people throw at them. They are encumbered with shame and sought survival whichever way possible. Their medical condition is irreversible and they will have to live with that condition for the rest of their lives. (Thankfully though, with multi drug therapy today, leprosy is curable!).
The book of Hebrews 13, verse 13 tells us something worth pondering, it says, "Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” Does that tell you something? We are admonished to go meet Jesus, our Saviour, without the camp, bearing His reproach (or shame). In other words, the real encounters of our faith are without the camp where we would find all manner of people - the rejected, poor, forsaken, lonely, suicidal, depressed, sick, tired, rebellious, abandoned, shamed, hungry, frustrated and ostracized. It’s time we left our comfort zones and went without the camp to salvage those that situations and circumstances of life have ebbed into seeming oblivion. Let’s go and minister the love of Christ to them and help bring them home. Let’s remind them that their case is not forlorn and God has not forgotten them. Let’s bring them home.
Outside of the camp - that’s where we can find the real Jesus!
© Obu Nwani Emanuel
September 15, 2021
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