In the subtropics of Africa there is a problem with sand fleas; they are called Jiggers. Once the small flea has attached itself inside of human skin, the females lay eggs with hundreds of fleas in them, which then, breed more and infest the skin even further. If not treated, one of the manifestations is for the human skin to die and build scales which is more or less rotted flesh. Rotted flesh – as you know – stinks.
Jim Nduruchi and the Rise-Up Society travel to the poor, rural communities in Kenya and “dig” the Jiggers out with a scalpel. (I am giving you the YouTube links here, but be warned, it is not a sight for those with weak stomachs!)
There is a man named Joseph who has been infested with these creatures. He has been very active in church and was the overseer of seven churches at one point. After his skin began to rot because of the Jiggers, he was told by the church and pastor that he is no longer welcome because he stinks too badly. Another thrown away Christians!
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the appropriate Christian way of handling this situation. The solution is to lovingly help him remove the Jiggers and debride the dead skin – or in America, take him to a doctor. There was not even one person in the group of those seven churches to help him – instead he was shunned.
Well Kenya is thousands of miles away so we don’t need to worry about it. Right? What about all of the Josephs with Jiggers in our society who are thrown away by the church? What? Not in America!
I live in a small town, and I have witnessed more people being ditched by the local churches than I can count. Let me tell you about a young man with Autism…
I shall call him Roger. When Roger was born he suffered for a few moments from a lack of oxygen. It caused trauma to his brain and he was diagnosed with Autism. His mother faithfully took him to her local SBC church and helped in the nursery and other areas in the church.
Roger’s mental development was slow and he was bigger for his age than most kids. He was so sweet and loving as he grew that it seems that everyone in the church should have loved him. Sometimes Roger made sounds in church so his mother began to sit in the cry room with him so his noises would not bother anyone or disrupt the service. But then a woman who did not have children and had claimed the cry room as her own territory (Baptist’s are very possessive of their seats) complained, and a week later the mother was asked to not bring Roger to church any longer because they did not “have a place for him.”
That was about twenty years ago and to this day Roger and his family does not attend any church and never will. End of paragraph!
This happened in one small town in one small state in the middle of the USA. What happens in other churches in other small towns? What happens in big churches in big cities? When you think about the odds of it happening here then it is easy to conclude that these types of “problems” happen everywhere.
Mark 1:40-42 tells this story:
And a leper came to him [Jesus], imploring him, and kneeling said to him, "If you will, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, "I will; be clean." And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.
We cannot reach our hands out and instantly heal someone, but Jesus demonstrated that we
are to reach out to people and help them. We are not to turn our backs to them but “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up” (Romans 15:1). 1 John 4:19-21 tells us, “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
I am not bashing churches, but am merely pointing out some severe harms that exist within the church that have been going on for decades and the church has clearly failed at regulating itself to do away with such wrongs. It is time for Christians to start talking and stop being so hush hush about what happens behind the doors of the church. The problems will only be solved if we Christians begin to stand up for each other, face the evils that exist behind the church walls, and begin to dig the Jiggers and debride the rotten flesh.
(Click the pictures to watch Joseph having the Jiggers removed)