WELCOME TO THE CONTROVERSY! "This nation cannot be overthrown by battle. It would never allow itself to be. America can only be overthrown by removing its reason for greatness, its exceptionalism and existence as a force for world influence for good and freedom. The driving purpose that led our brothers and sisters to shed their blood for a new country and which drove a people and a President to hold fast to the premise that the nation could not be divided into two in the bloody civil war. Our vision of defeating evil, which gives our men and women in the military valor and a willingness to sacrifice in each of our American centuries, has been freedom. The greatest force for freedom has always been the Constitution of the United States. Now, this government, of the people disregards the people. Now these rights, for the people, seem to have been invalidated by a force that has no constitutional right to do so." - Author Steven Clark Bradley

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The Most Intelligent of Idiots - The Love of God in Chandraghona by Steven Clark Bradley

Have you ever taken a trip and the actual voyage was better than the intended destination? I would say that this was the case during our amazing train journey to the second largest city in Bangladesh, Chittagong. It was the actual train ride and a visit to a leper hospice in a small village called Chandraghona that ended up being so memorable. 
The Love of God in Chandraghona
Present time, 2010
The three thousand two hundred fifteen foot wobbly bridge is the only way into Chittagong by train. Crossing that bridge was an amazing experience and frightening as well. We stayed at the Baptist mission for the night and then tomorrow on to the Christian Hospital at Chandraghona and the leper colony there. I was told that I would be both shocked and uplifted at the same time.
It was indeed a shocking thing to see the absolutely dire physical conditions of some of the poor victims of leprosy. Some of them were almost as if parts of them had melted away. Many of them had to endure such massive difficulties to even feed themselves, with the loss of fingers, some had suffered complete blindness. It was an awful sight to see. What was uplifting is the love and compassion shown to those who seem unlovable.
The predictions of shock and awe at the plight of these people and the love of Jesus being shown to them was not an exaggeration at all. It was an experience that I could not have imagined and it made the crossing of the rickety bridge worth the fear and trepidation. Though this all happened some thirty-one years ago, I still remember it all, because I wrote all down in my Ends of the Earth Journal.
Ends of the Earth Journal
En Route to Chandraghona Leper Colony
June 13, 1979 10:12 a.m.
I am certainly awake now. I am just one of those guys who hates to sleep. There has to be more than just me. It just feels like such a waste of time to me. It’s sort of going into a state of nothingness. There’s so much to do, to say, to record and to imagine. Nevertheless, I am a really good sleeper. I almost never remember my dreams, probably because I sleep so deeply. When I do manage to persuade myself that I am truly tired and lay down, I can’t even say the word ‘sheep,’ never mind counting them, before nothingness descends upon me, and I am gone.
On top of those quirks, you know how most of you lay in bed after you’ve already awakened, just letting the circuitry turn on in your brain? Well, I find it strange too, but the moment I open my eyes, I sit up and then stand up, and I am ready for my day.

Before we got in this Jeep and started barreling and bouncing around on these roads. It is perfectly as I had imagined it would be, only hard to write. Earlier this morning was a little different for me. I seem to have a more eerie feeling when I wake up here. I don’t get scared, just surprised. It was only 6:30 a.m. when I woke up this morning.

It does not matter what time I go to bed, I always wake up five hours later. This morning was no different than any other except for when I opened my eyes. My eyes immediately focused onto what looked like a real cross projected onto to ceiling. It startled me so much that I jumped out of bed and shoved my hand over my mouth to keep from shouting an obscenity and waking everyone up. Then, a point of understanding filled my mind.
It is the cross that brought us here. It is about sacrifice on whatever cross we are called to bear, in his name. I thought and took my hand off my mouth and looked around. What we would see later today, doctors and nurses and specialists who have abandoned their lucrative practices in the cities of Bangladesh and India and international doctors who have come here to work and often using their own funds to support themselves, because first of all, they love Jesus Christ and they know the will of Christ is to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.

This little vision was simply the sunlight shining off a cross hung on the wall and projecting the shadow onto the ceiling. But, I know nothing happens by chance, really. Everything is for a purpose, and God used it to refocus me. The cross is the only way to ensure that these suffering people don’t experience hell twice; once in life and once, forever, after life.
So, I got dressed and went out to a little chai shop I saw last night to get a cup of what would normally be a cup of coffee. The taste had grown on me, though. When I got there, they were just getting a fresh supply of milk for the tea. A man in a long white gown led his cow to the front of the shop and placed the shop’s container under the beast and milked the patient animal, right there. It was the best cup of chai I have had. After we ate breakfast at the Baptist Mission, Phil led us to meet Jeanie Lockerbie, a very warm and kind missionary who let us use her Jeep for the day.

Ends of the Earth Journal
En Route to Chandraghona Leper Colony
June 13, 1979 11:12 a.m.

We’ve almost arrived at the hospital, a little later than we had expected. The directions we got have to have been wrong, because Phil followed them to a tee. I was glad, though. Phil Game had already told me about the small villages he had wanted to visit with us, but the time was tight. Well, the route we took at first took us through some of the roughest roads and mud streets one could imagine.

It’s monsoon season here and everything is drenched all of the time. When I see the foliage and vegetation so beautiful and glistening in the monsoon rains, it is hard to imagine that the cities are so broken and filthy. We went through a couple places where we were almost stuck in mud up to our axles.

People were everywhere and everyone seems busy. This is a natural collective effort to help everyone live in the family. Everything is so vibrantly lush and green. We saw flooded fields of rice again and up close with Bengalis who seemed to be permanently bent over sticking the baby plants through the water and into the soaked ground. As we drive by. It is amazing how these women, any of them so beautiful will look years older than they really are in a short time. They walk with perfect posture as they carry huge loads of various materials on their heads.

As we got closer to the border of the hill tribes, we could see the layout of many villages that made these people thrive more than those who tried to live in the more modern cities. We passed a small mosque that looked like a mud hut, which essentially is what it was. It was square with no minarets or towers for the call to prayer. These children look strong and healthy. I pray they stay that way. Phil found a place to turn around. We are only ten minutes out from the Chandraghona Leper Colony. The love of God spread abroad in our hearts can heal more things than medicine can.

Ends of the Earth Journal
Arrival at Chandraghona Leper Colony
June 13, 1979 11:27 a.m.

We arrived at the Chandraghona Leper Colony at about 11:30 a.m. As we drove into the hospital compound, We could see the River Karnaphuli that flowed in a low area. It was large and looked powerful. The lush green vegetation was amazing in this jungle-like area around the place that was saving the lives and winning the souls of the poor lost and the physically broken people who had come to the leper colony to find help from those of another faith other than Islam which had left them to languish and die a painful death on the streets of Bangladesh. This wonderful place was built and developed to help those who could not help themselves and who had been abandoned by their political and religious leaders. 

When we got out of the jeep and shut down the engine, I just stood and listened. I was sure Tarzan would swing out of jungle all around us and walk up and ask us, “Where Jane?” I could hear birds making loud and very mystical sounds. I heard bullfrogs croaking and the mosquitoes were everywhere. I walked over to an overhanging area and looked down at the River Karnaphuli. I could see the thousands of people who had to be there, since there are always multitudes of poor, hungry people looking for a way to live through the day. 

I could see the tops of the people’s heads as they walked along the river where they washed their clothes, did their business and where they got their drinking water. It is hard for us to imagine someone drinking from the same watering hole where they pee, but In Bangladesh, the choices that we have in our own homes, back in America. These people did what they had to do to stay alive, even if it killed them.

I turned my attention back to the hospital as I heard the voices of Dr. Bob and Mary Hart. They had spent the past five years at the Christian Hospital at Chandraghona working with the victims of Leprosy. They were dedicated and had carried on in a long tradition since 1907 of native and international doctors who had set aside their own self-gratification and enrichment back in their own countries.

Present Time, 2010

The Christian Hospital in Chandraghona, Bangladesh, had started humbly. From its beginning, a startling history of unexpected gifts and troubles, Christians have come through and donated the monies that eventually turned the fledgling Christian hospital into a highly influential medical center in providing community healthcare and serving the people of Bangladesh in the name of Jesus Christ. 

Translated, the name, Chandraghona, means Valley of the Moon. This small village was a government outpost in the 19th century and is located between the plains of Chittagong to the west and the Hill Tracts to the east. This area has a long heritage as a place for Christian outreach among the hill tribes of Bangladesh.

The famous missionary, William Carey’s son Felix was the first international missionary to work here for Christ. In fact, the first attempt at compiling a Bengali encyclopedia was made by Felix Carey. But, Carey died after only translating two seats of 40-page installments. He died in this area of the Indian Subcontinent, which was, for practical purposes, his country. 

William Carey’s oldest son, Felix, was the first Baptist missionary to work in the Chittagong area; however, the people living in the hills, to the east, were never reached. The population in the villages I saw looked the healthiest I’ve seen. These are a shy people, rarely venturing to the plain villages except to trade, and were members of different tribes, speaking different languages, but they thrive in comparison to the city.

Perhaps that’s the influence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It teaches responsibility and honesty, and about loving your neighbor as yourself. Wherever the name and truth of Jesus grows, lives improve. I speak not of religion, but faith in someone real and true. Once it is accepted and grows, the benefits for life all around can be passed on hopefully forever by future generations. In contrast, wherever Islam assumes control, freedom and devotion for God disappear and are replaced by the god of death. Lives begin to fall apart, diseases like leprosy begin to thrive because Islam sucks all the thriving right out of the people. In my opinion, William Carey and his son Felix Carey are heroes who took the gospel to a people and though the fruit was small, it was nonetheless significant.

Work began in 1907 to construct a new building. In 1913 a leprosy colony was established next to the hospital. The colony received financial backing from the Pakistan government in 1949 and was hoped to become the very best center for leprosy research and treatment in the country.

In 1998 work began for the construction of a new a new hospital. Today Christian Hospital Chandraghona is beautiful and spacious with large patient wards, modern facilities and operating rooms furnished with modern equipment. This is a far cry from what I saw back in 1979. The place was clean and proper, but though they did amazing work with what they had, they were seriously limited compared to what they are doing today. I took the time to write that day specifically about The Christian Hospital in Chandraghona and the leper colony in my Ends of the Earth Journal.

Ends of the Earth Journal
Touring the Leper Colony
June 13, 1979 2:07 p.m.

Everyone is either out walking, Dan is taking some of his amazing photos, I am sure. Bill probably found someone to play Frisbee with. So, I had a moment alone and decided to take a few moments and describe what I saw today and how it deepened my views of life and death and the love of God in Chandraghona.

The doctors showed us where many of the lepers stayed. I knew it was safe to be around them, but it still gave me an unsettling feeling. These doctors and nurses are heroes in every way. I was surprised to learn that, since I have read in the bible about lepers. They were always considered unclean. Dr. Hart explained it all to us. He said that the illness was not contracted so much by touching as by breathing. According to Dr. Bob Hart and his expert wife, Mary, Leprosy could be contracted simply by breathing in contaminated air. But, Dr. Hart also said that only roughly twenty percent of all people are susceptible to the disease. He added that cleanliness and sanitation were very important ingredients in protecting oneself from the disease. 

What really stunned me was that leprosy has been known to lie dormant for up to six years, in a victim, before becoming a full-blown infection. Dr. Hart told us that the primary way leprosy enters the human body is through the nose. The twenty percent or so who have a natural tendency to contract leprosy can develop the symptoms between three month and six years after initial exposure. The damage of leprosy, which Dr. Bob Hart and Mary Hart described to us and presented before several patients who had suffered severe damage. It was frightening, actually. 

First, the eye muscles are attacked and soon the victim of leprosy can no longer blink their eyelids. That causes a deep reddening and great dryness because the eyes simply dry out. We saw one sad victim who had suffered greatly as the slow flesh-consuming disease had slow consumed his body. His eyes were dark red like blood was ready to flow out of them. On the end of both of his arms was literally nothing. All that it now amounted to were two long bones covered with some meat, because he had lost all sensation or feeling in all of his limbs and had pounded them around so much, without knowing it, that they literally fall off or must be cut off. Men, women and children like this are often brought to the leper colony too late. Though the disease is relatively easy to stop, the damage that had already been inflicted on the victim can never be reversed. 

Patients just like the man we saw with the face of excruciating suffering from the effects of leprosy can have the disease’s progress stopped. Though this man and others like him can never live a normal life again, they will be taught how to keep their eye moist and how to make sure that leper victims learn how to prevent further damage to their bodies. So, this wonderful hospital offers treatment and counseling, and the most important thing of all, hope, in the name of Christ.

Present Time, 2010

These are people with feelings, just like you and I are. They have pain and sadness and know that no one other than in this very hospital, amongst the hill people, would ever treat them with dignity and love. Thankfully, there were no children that I saw who had the awful disease of leprosy. Dan, Bill and I all played Frisbee with several kids, who soon became a mob of beautiful, happy kids, all wanting to play. We all thought it was a great way to end the day and the trip to a place where Jesus reigns. The smiles all told me that this was a day the children would remember, and that includes me, the most intelligent of idiots.

Patriot Acts
by Steven Clark Bradley

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