In God’s Wonderful Image

When Dr. Paul Brand met his first leprosy patients, he was told, "Nothing can be done with hands -- or feet -- like this. It's just leprosy." Translation: Deformed limbs are part of the disease; we can't fight it. But as Eddie Askew of Leprosy Mission International observed in a funeral tribute to Brand last month, "just leprosy" wasn't part of Paul Brand's vocabulary. He discovered that leprosy deformities could be corrected, performed surgeries on thousands, and taught his skills to others who carry on today. Part of Dr. Brand's success stems from the fact that he didn't merely treat the affected extremity. He viewed patients not as cases, but as God's creatures. He also recognized the body as God's ally in the healing process. He wrote, "I have come to realize that every patient . . . , every newborn baby, in every cell of its body, has a basic knowledge of how to survive and how to heal, that exceeds anything that I shall ever know. That knowledge is the gift of God, who has made our bodies more perfectly than we could ever have devised." He noted how our understanding of the body developed during his lifetime. For example, his professors called the thymus gland a "vestigial organ," a leftover whose usefulness humans had outgrown through evolution. "Today," he observes, "we can see from the victims of AIDS that people cannot survive without those immune cells from the thymus and bone marrow. A lot of biologists still cling to the idea of evolution by chance, but now it is scientists from mathematics, information theory, and computers that are forcing us to recognize that chance alone cannot possibly account for the code of DNA and the wonders of life. All of science points toward a Creator." Among the many honors he received, the highest in the world's reckoning was his being knighted Commander of the Order of the British Empire. But CRISTA Ministries president Jim Gwinn pays an even higher tribute: "To know Paul Brand is to know Christ better. He evidenced [Christ's] compassion, grace, and mercy to all." Paul Brand had a remarkable and wholesome attitude toward death. Listen to his own words, so movingly written about death: "One day I shall experience a sickness . . . unto death. I shall sense my mortal frame has no more strength to fight and that my pathway is leading into the valley of the shadow. Let me not feel the despair of one who is losing a battle, or that a triumph of evil is ahead. Focus within me, O Lord, the light of your eternal Spirit. Show me again that my body, for all that it is wonderful, is but the mantle of a greater wonder, my soul. Hold me, Lord, in such awareness of your presence and your love that my parting from my body shall be but the opening of a more vivid intimacy and union with the spirit of my Savior. He who has been the inspiration of my stumbling body shall now be the very light and substance of my soul." At the death of Dr. Paul Brand, "we sorrow not as those who have no hope," for his legacy of faith and service inspires us and reminds us that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" for His good pleasure. For further reading: "Obituary: Dr. Paul Wilson Brand, CBE, MB, FRCS (Eng) 1914-2003," HealthServe, August 2003. "Noted Surgeon and Author Paul Brand Dies at Age 89," Christianity Today, 10 July 2003. Paul Brand, "The Wisdom of the Body," broadcast #3428 of 30 Good Minutes, 28 April 1990. Learn more about Paul Brand. Eddie Askew, "Paul Brand: A Personal Remembrance." Michael Ireland, "World-Renowned Medical Missionary and Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Paul W. Brand Brought Promise of New Hands, New Life to Millions," ASSIST News, 14 July 2003. "In Memoriam," Christian Medical College Board (USA), Inc. "Dr. Paul Brand, leprologist, surgeon, writer, dies in Seattle," American Leprosy Missions. View this audio-visual presentation by Dr. Brand, "You Are Wonderful." Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: A Surgeon Looks at the Human and Spiritual Body (Zondervan, 1987). Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, In His Image (Zondervan, 1987). Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, The Gift of Pain: Why We Hurt & What We Can Do about It (Zondervan, 1997). Richard John Neuhaus, As I Lay Dying: Meditations upon Returning (Basic Books, 2002).


Chuck Colson


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