Story from the Mission Field: Leprosy

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When I was on a Gospel for Asia vision tour in South Asia a year and a half ago, I met a woman named Mina, who was affected by leprosy. Mina told me her story.

She had suffered from the disease for 40 years, and lived for most of that time in colonies with other people suffering from leprosy. Her husband had died, and her son lived outside the colony, only visiting occasionally. To earn some money to pay for her medication, Mina had to beg. Every day from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m., she would beg outside a local religious site.

This visit to the leprosy colony was one of the hardest parts of the trip. Most of society has shunned these people, and there was so much suffering, so much despair. But we met a group of missionaries who loved and cared for the leprosy patients. They ministered to their needs in both practical and spiritual ways, like cleaning their wounds and praying for them. We saw a glimpse of hope being poured out.

Hope in this place of suffering is almost a paradox. Mina, the woman I met, smiling with genuine joy? The men and women who said they were encouraged by our team’s visit? A man who prayed to the same God I worship? But it’s true. And it’s only because of the love of Christ working through the missionaries serving there; His love touching the lives of the suffering; His love displayed through my team members.

I’d like to leave you with this quote from Pastor Jiva, a missionary who started leprosy ministry in another region of South Asia.

“’It is because of God’s grace that we have the strength, courage and motivation to work among these people, to share with them, to hug them, to love them and to care for them,’” – Pastor Jiva

(Quote from http://www.gfa.org/news/articles/compelled-by-love/)


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World Leprosy Day was observed on January 25, 2015. Although leprosy is foreign to daily life for many of us, thousands still suffer from the disfigurement and devastating social stigma caused by this disease. In 2013, 215,557 new cases of leprosy were diagnosed globally. More than half of these were in India. (source: World Health Organization)

Dedicated missionaries like Pastor Jiva are reaching out to people afflicted by leprosy in South Asia, touching their lives with the love and care of Christ. This ministry takes place not only on World Leprosy Day, but also on every other day of the year. We can be part of impacting their lives with hope, too! Visit Gospel for Asia’s Leprosy Ministry page here.

Big City Adventure

I call it a”Big City Adventure” in jest, because it wasn’t that long ago that I lived in the suburbs of the city of Dallas. However, now that I live in the country (thinking of country mouse, city mouse, anyone?), driving into town has definitely become an event. 

My sisters, some friends and I drove into Dallas for some good coffee and adventure a week ago, in honor of Clara who was about to start School of Discipleship. Here are some photos of our time at Houndstooth Coffee and Lakeside Park. Dinner at Chipotle was not captured in photos, but nonetheless delicious!

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*all photos by Elicia Christofferson unless stated otherwise. all rights reserved. 

Cheers to the next adventure!

Okay, Deep Question Time

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Yesterday morning my sister Clara and I were eating breakfast and talking about asking hard questions. Sometimes we joke around, and say “Okay, deep question time” or “Whoa, that’s oceanic” (meaning really deep.) But asking a friend questions that are beyond the surface, or questions that show we care, helps knit our friendship that much deeper, or helps create a friendship where there was not one before.

Clara has a penchant for asking deep questions. Basically, she has a thing for it. A common occurrence when we’re washing dishes*, or making tea, or going on a drive (now that we live in the country) is for Clara to ask, “So, what has God been teaching you recently?”

Sometimes I don’t know how to answer that question right away.

But I’m so grateful for Clara pressing on to take relationships a step deeper. I have been challenged to do this too, and see how it becomes a blessing to both me and others.

These are some questions I am asking people in my life:

  • What is God teaching you right now?
  • How did God call you to serve here?
  • What are your goals for this year?
  • What aspects of God’s character is He revealing to you?
  • And… do you know of any good churches in Terrell?**

How beautiful is it that having these conversations not only grows us closer as friends, but brings joy to Jesus too?

Crystal Stine’s blog post The Questions We Need to Ask got me thinking about reaching out as a friend and asking questions, and was part of the inspiration for this post. I encourage you to take a few minutes to read it.

I’ll close with a quote from Crystal:

“The questions we need to ask don’t need to be long or deep or fancy. They just need to be honest and from a heart that is willing to truly listen to the answer. It’s about knowing your friend, what her passions are, and asking God to show you the best way to pour love and encouragement into her life.” (source)


*When Clara and I wash dishes together, it’s actually more common for us to sing than to talk.
** This question recently led to a beautiful conversation with my hair stylist!

One life at a time

Have you ever heard the story of the boy and the starfish? As the tale goes, many starfish were washed upon a beach by the tide, and would soon die from the sun and lack of water. A little boy walked down the beach, picking up starfish and tossing them back into the water, saving lives one by one. A man walked by and saw the starfish rescue operation, and told the boy, “You’ll never finish, there are too many to save them all.” In reply, the young boy tossed another starfish back into the life-giving water, and said, “I made a difference for that one.”

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When we hear big numbers like ‘2 out of 5 people have never heard of Jesus’ or that 2.5 billion people are still unreached, it’s easy to think, “How can we ever make a difference?” and I’m right there with you.

I traveled to South Asia last fall, and I was struck by how many unreached people filled every square mile. It was overwhelming. How could we ever reach them? These kind of thoughts filled my mind while I was visiting a Bridge of Hope center in a densely populated city.

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But then, this little boy got up to share his testimony. With a mischievous smile on his face, he told us that he used to be a naughty boy. Going to the Bridge of Hope center totally changed his life, and he’s not naughty anymore.

The Lord gently spoke to my heart through this boy’s testimony, and I learned a lesson similar to the other little boy and the starfish. What He said was this: there are many yet to be reached, but every single life that is touched and changed matters.

In Luke 15, Jesus tells us there is great rejoicing in heaven over every soul who comes into the kingdom! And I think there must also be great rejoicing over every child whose life is changed, every person who decides to live in light of eternity, and every family who finds hope.

 “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

I wrote down this story of what the Lord has been teaching me originally to send to the bloggers who are part of our Blog for Asia team. However, I wanted to share it here on my blog too. This was one of the lessons the Lord taught me during our trip to South Asia, and it’s a good reminder that what I can do to help reach the lost, even in a small way, really does make a difference.

I hope to share more Faces of South Asia with you in the coming weeks, and show you glimpses of my trip last September.

Counting Up the Cost

In the Great Commission, Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples. Before we can do that, we must first be disciples… hence the School of Discipleship! It doesn’t stop with me learning how to be a disciple, though – I must go and make disciples of others. True Discipleship by William MacDonald is a radical challenge for followers of Christ. Will we be more than just fans or followers? Will we be committed, sold-out disciples?

An area the Lord has been growing me in is counting the cost of being a disciple. Being a disciple means not just having a warm emotion of following Jesus, but consistently dying to myself and daily taking up the cross.

One day in the bathroom I have a small revelation – following Jesus won’t ever be easy, but it is so worth it! When Jesus called the twelve disciples to follow Him, He didn’t promise them ease or comfort; He promised pain, persecution, and suffering. Being a disciple will be hard, but it is worth every heartache, every inconvenience. Following Jesus is worth everything. A quote from True Discipleship really fits here: “…the Christian life deserves everything or nothing.”

God gave me Ephesians 4:1 tonight, as I was praying and seeking God’s calling on my life. “…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

Over the past several months, God has asked me, will I follow Him no matter what? As I prayed and searched my heart and sought God’s face, I found that my answer is Yes, absolutely. I want to be wholly committed to Christ, no matter what.

Pastor Danny has encouraged me to count the cost of following Jesus as I think about the different options before me in the future. Following God’s call on my life might mean giving up my home, my family, my dreams for the future, my photography. Will I be willing to give those things up and just have Jesus for my everything?

Being in Canada, doing School of Discipleship, being away from my home and family and what is familiar hasn’t been easy – but it is so worth it. Dying to myself, daily choosing to follow Jesus first, and being a disciple of Jesus Christ are all things that I am learning to do as I follow the Lord.

Counting the cost also means coming to a point of decision. I can’t say I have arrived at the goal or achieved the prize, but I have counted the cost and I say yes, I will follow Jesus no matter what.

In the recent past I had a very hard few weeks, when my grandma was sick and maybe dying, Auntie Jacie was fading from the cancer, and my best friend Emily would be moving to New Zealand for a year. I didn’t want to stay here. I wanted to give up and go home. But God really spoke to me through a song that was just randomly playing while I washed dishes one night – Today by Brian Doerkson. “Today I choose to follow you. Today I choose to give my yes to you.” I was reminded that God had called me to be here in Canada at this time, and I still needed to follow Him, trust Him, and give my yes to Him.

song lyrics by Rend Collective, “The Cost”

“I’m saying yes to You
And no to my desires
I’ll leave myself behind
And follow You

I’ll walk the narrow road
’cause it leads me to You
I’ll fall but grace
Will pick me up again

I’ve counted up the cost
Oh I’ve counted up the cost
Yes I’ve counted up the cost
And You are worth it”

If I choose to follow Jesus, it means He needs to be first in my life in everything. First place in my priorities, how I spend my time. Jesus must be on the throne of my heart, not myself or anything else. And that means that I must forsake all else but Him. I must give up my dreams, wishes, talents, money, family, and time. None of these things can be priority. I need to surrender all those things, and seek Him first. And that’s one area that the Lord is still growing me in – forsaking all but Jesus.

If I say, “Today I choose to follow you” – that means I need to follow Him first and only.

Jesus said, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” He repeated that over and over – in Matthew 10:39, Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, Luke 17:33, and John 12:25 – because it is so important.

William MacDonald says in True Discipleship “… life hugged for self is life lost, but life poured out for him is found, saved, enjoyed, and kept for eternity…”

Holding on to my dreams, my desires, and my possessions will never result in a fulfilled life. But a life forsaken to Jesus – that is where it’s at!

A true disciple is a bondslave to Jesus. Do you think a bondslave has anything he is holding on to for himself? No – he has forsaken everything. And I, as a bondslave to my master Jesus Christ, must give up everything to be His disciple.

“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” When Jesus said that in Luke 14:33, He meant it! Not just that we should give up everything, or that it might be a good idea – we must forsake all or we cannot be His disciples.

When it comes to forsaking all and being a disciple, it means forsaking more than just money. All those things I listed above – dreams, talents, possessions, desires, and family – ALL must be given to Jesus.

I want Jesus to be my strength, my security, and my everything. He redeemed me, and now I’m not my own. It is only right that Jesus be first place in my life!

What the Lord has been teaching me about being a disciple isn’t quite cut and dried where it fits exactly into one category or chapter. But what He has been teaching me is that Jesus must be first place in my life.

Following Jesus won’t be easy, but it is worth it.


This post was a written assignment for the True Discipleship class in School of Discipleship year one, originally written in August 2013. 

Victory Through Surrender

“The self is the one and only thing we own. It is the one thing we brought into the world and it is the one and only thing we will take out of the world, and the one thing we have to live with intimately day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. So the kind of self you are determines your life happiness or your life hell. Someone has said: ‘The most used word in hell is ‘I.’’ To be centered in your self is to be in hell – now.”
—E. Stanley Jones, Victory Through Surrender

I am super challenged by the Self-Confrontation Bible Study we’re doing right now in School of Discipleship year 2, as well as by Victory Through Surrender by E. Stanley Jones. I know the struggle with myself will always be there – and that’s why I have to keep surrendering myself and my whole life to Jesus.

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 1:6

This is one of my favorite verses. I can have confident hope knowing that God will complete the work He started in me!

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Working on a speech/presentation for our discipleship class.

summer hike

Tonight I’ve been going through a few photos from last year, remembering some of the good times I had in Canada. I found a few treasures from one summer night in July, when Crissy and I went on a hike, on the Bruce Trail on the Niagara Escarpment.

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I took this panorama on my iPhone, and I really love the perspective of the sky all the way to my feet. Click on the image and zoom to view it larger :)
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