Followers of Jesus?

When Peter saw the disciple whom Jesus loved, he asked, “Lord, what about him?" 
Jesus answered, “... You must follow me.”
(John 21:19 ff NIV)
I met Pat quite coincidentally. We're volunteers in our nearby country park.  She joins the litter-pickers, then serving tea to the 'workers and woodcutters' at half-time. We get chatting. She asks about my background. 'Oh, leprosy,' she says, 'I've supported The Leprosy Mission for years.' I explain my connection. There’s lingering excitement as she speaks about field trips to India. Conversation turns to faith. Her TLM support is a consequence of following Jesus. That support is, I suspect, significant monetarily, but more importantly how she thinks about the people involved. Hers is no one-off, coin-in-the-box support. It’s comprehensive, sustained and likely to continue. 
We knew Rebecca at the Chikankata Hospital in Zambia in the 1970s. Her leprosy had done its worst with significant impairment and deformity, but that didn't stop her working with my wife, Margaret, in the women's group. They became not only colleagues but friends. Rebecca had a deep but simple faith. She too was a follower of Jesus. 
When we returned to the mission 25 years later things had changed. Patients had been discharged. 'Normalised' was the word. Rebecca was gone.
We heard she was living in a remote village a hundred miles away. Margaret was determined to see her, so we went, well off the beaten track. We thought we'd never arrive. When we did, Rebecca was not there.  It was Sunday morning. She was an hour’s walk away, in church. We waited. The joy of reunion was worth every obstacle of that journey. 
The stigmata of leprosy remained, but so had her joy.  Hers was no hands-up-to-become-a-Christian and that’s it. She was still following Jesus.
Thousands of miles separate Pat and Rebecca. They've never met. Their faith endures; they are long term followers. That pleases me. I suspect it would Jesus too. But then he'd likely turn to me and say "Never mind them; what about you?"
August 2015 

Margaret embraces Rebecca on arrival in her village, near Pemba, April 2007
(Photo: Andre du Plessis)