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That the life of Jesus may be manifested: An interview with Dan Izzett

Lathrop: I know that you are involved with the Leprosy Mission please tell us what that organization does.

Izzett: I served with Zimbabwe Leprosy Mission since 1999 and with The Leprosy Mission International since 2000 until 2008 as a trustee and board member. In November 2014 I was asked to serve on the board of American Leprosy Missions.

These ministries work to help leprosy sufferers around the world. They provide treatment care; they teach and encourage self-care, and assist with rehabilitation, restoration of dignity, psychological needs, self-sustainability and integration into society. These missions operate with a strong Christian ethos.

Here is a sketch of what the missions do:

  • The work is broad and far-reaching. The combination of a disease that has a severely debilitating effect on the body and the stigma surrounding it means a unique and holistic approach is required to care for a person’s needs.
  • Health, rehabilitation and disability care. Tragically, even after treatment, leprosy may have already permanently damaged the nerves.
  • Housing, water and sanitation
  • Education, training and livelihoods. Every year we enable thousands of children from leprosy-affected families to go to school.
  • Advocacy. Leprosy is one of the world’s most stigmatised diseases. A myth still prevalent in the world today is that leprosy is a curse for something you have done wrong, an untruth and needs to be addressed.


Lathrop: What work do you do for the Leprosy Mission?

Izzett: Advocacy is what I do and what I feel my present calling is as I work alongside the various mission outreaches to leprosy sufferers.


Lathrop: What do you wish people knew about leprosy?

Izzett: Leprosy is still afflicting many people today. Every 24 hours, 600 new leprosy cases around the world are diagnosed and begin treatment. The very sad thing is that every day another 600 people have not yet been diagnosed.

Leprosy does not eat your flesh, nor do your limbs fall off. It affects the nerves, especially those around the elbow (ulnar nerve) and knee (peroneal nerve).

There are many more ways that leprosy affects a person, including: severe nerve pain, muscle weakness especially in the hands and feet, skin stiffness and dryness, eye problems which lead to blindness, the loss of fingers or toes following an injury or an infection because the sufferer cannot feel the pain in their feet and hands.

Many people suffer from the stigma and rejection that is related to leprosy. These subjects must be continually addressed, and we cannot afford to neglect any patient’s spiritual condition.

You can touch a person affected by leprosy and not get it yourself! Ninety-five percent of the world is immune to the disease or repels the infection.


Lathrop: There is a book about the experience that you and your wife had. Please tell us about the book.

Izzett: In 2012, the director of The Leprosy Mission in Switzerland said that author Daniel Gerber wanted to write about a personal life story and asked if I would be willing to coauthor the book with him. That started a long process of many, many hours of interviews and conversations with us, my mother and various friends. The book was written in German because Daniel is German. We are hoping one day to have it translated into English.



For more about Pastor John Lathrop, see his author page:

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Category: Fall 2015, Living the Faith

About the Author: Dan Izzett has been serving churches, in southern Africa and around the world, since 1975. In 1986, he planted a church and pastored there until retiring in 2012. Dan is best known for his advocacy for those suffering from leprosy.

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