Mary, a staff member of Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Lanka (NCML), makes her own lunch every day before heading out to work. But she rarely gets to eat it.
In her job as the local leader for compassionate ministry to laborers and their families in the Sri Lankan tea gardens of Pattana, Dimbulla, and Ragala, she visits many people in their homes. Often she finds that the parents are unable to feed their children. So she opens the lunch she planned for herself and distributes it among the hungry little ones.
Mary knows how difficult life can be in the tea gardens of Sri Lanka. She grew up in one. Her father works as a laborer in a tea garden, nevertheless earning very little for his family. Mary joined NCML to support her father. But eventually, she realized that it was actually to fulfill her heavenly Father’s will that she joined NCML, more than simply helping her family.
Mary is one of NCML’s longest serving staff members, having given the last seven years to serving families whose children are enrolled in NCM’s local child-focused community development program (CFCDP). Mary is very kind, compassionate, and certainly carries the burden of wiping the tears away from hungry children. One of her most beloved jobs was visiting families because she felt that she could listen to the cries of those in the most neglected communities and lift them up in prayer – praying for them several hours a day. Mary’s ministry with NCML has touched hundreds of children in the tea gardens of Pattana, Dimbulla, and Ragala.
Six months ago, while Mary was on her regular visits to her CFCDP children, she walked into a home that was hardly visited by anyone. There was a strong smell that kept people away, isolating this family from the other residents of the village. Mary was curious to know the cause of the smell that pushed the neighbors away. She was very adamant that she would not leave the home that day without knowing the reason. The parents of the home had no choice but to tell the truth: Manoj*, their son, 12, had developed a rash all over his body. The community believed that it was the early stages of leprosy.
The parents took him to many doctors and spent all the money they had, but it appeared that he was far from being healed. People feared the disease spreading, so Manoj’s school made the decision to expel him. Soon his friends stopped talking and playing with him. Since then, Manoj has been confined to one room for the last four months.
“Tears came pouring down my face when I heard Manoj’s story,” Mary said. She was certain that Jesus could heal him. Mary thought that if Jesus could heal the lepers, then he could heal Manoj.
Mary was Manoj’s first visitor since he contracted this disease. His parents could not believe that someone would come and comfort him. Unafraid, Mary hugged Manoj and asked,
“Are you willing to be healed?” Manoj nodded his head in a positive response.
“Jesus can heal you,” said Mary with a warm smile, and she laid her hands on his wounds and prayed for the rest of the day.
Since that day, Mary began visiting Manoj regularly and spent hours praying with him. After some time, they began seeing that Manoj was showing signs of healing. His wounds were losing their strong odor and Manoj was finally able to walk outside of his room. Mary then decided to take the little boy to the local Nazarene group in Pattana. The pastor and teachers welcomed Manoj with open arms. In short time, Manoj started to make new friends and forgot all about being isolated in his room.
Earlier this year, Mary took Manoj back to school. The complete healing of his wounds surprised the school staff and his old friends gradually began talking him to again.
With Mary’s help, Manoj was enrolled in the CFCDP. With great care, the teachers spent extra hours to make sure that Manoj learned the lessons that he had missed. Now he is an active member of the CFCDP; he enjoys the evening program and its education through playing games. Mary continues to minister to Manoj’s family with the help from NCML.
*Name changed for privacy
For more information on Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, visit ncm.org.