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The Leprosy Doctor

Paul Brand showed how to serve others sacrificially and emerge with joy
2003This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

WE MADE an odd couple. When we first met, I was a punk in my mid-20s with bushy Art Garfunkel hair. Dr. Brand was a dignified, silver-haired surgeon characterized by proper British reserve. We went on to write three books together, and I now view the ten years I worked with him as an important chrysalis stage of my faith.

Wounded by the church, plagued by doubts, I had neither the confidence nor the ability to write about my own faith. Yet I could write with utter confidence and integrity about Dr. Brand's faith, and through that process his words and thoughts became mine too. As I helped him find his voice, he helped me find my faith.

In the movie Manhattan, Woody Allen tells a woman, "You're God's answer to Job." He explains that when Job complained about how awful the world was, God could say, "But I can still make one of these." Paul Brand served that role for me. As I struggled with the injustices of this world and the imponderables of theology, I could look to him as a shining example of what God had in mind with the human experiment.

Our conversations knew no limits. Dr. Brand quoted long passages from Shakespeare, exegeted Greek and Hebrew phrases from the Bible, discussed thrilling new discoveries about DNA, pointed out with childlike excitement birds and plants in India or the bayous of Louisiana where he practiced medicine. He had known and consulted with some of the great figures of the last century: Albert Schweitzer, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi. He had received prestigious medical awards and been appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

Dr. Brand said he felt guilty because he merely answered my questions and a few years later a book would emerge. I responded that all I did ...

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Philip Yancey
Philip Yancey is editor at large of Christianity Today and cochair of the editorial board for Books and Culture. Yancey's most recent book is What Good Is God?: In Search of a Faith That Matters. His other books include Prayer (2006), Rumors of Another World (2003), Reaching for the Invisible God (2000), The Bible Jesus Read (1999), What's So Amazing About Grace? (1998), The Jesus I Never Knew (1995), Where is God When It Hurts (1990), and many others. His Christianity Today column ran from 1985 to 2009.
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