If you had asked me two years ago where Togo is, I would have responded, “Isn’t that off the coast of Australia?”
That’s what I said when Lewis approached me about getting involved with Sight.org. (I was confusing Togo, a small West African country, with Tonga, a tiny South Pacific island!) Find Lome, Togo on your map app. That’s where Beth, Lewis and I will step off the plane into a ninety degree February morning. I may well be saying to myself “Togo – we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
I’m excited about seeing a place on the planet where daily life is radically different from how I live 24/7 in the buckle of the Bible belt in Tyler, Texas, USA. But that’s not what I’m most excited about seeing.
I’m excited to be in the operating room for four full days as one Togolese person after another gets their blinding cataracts cut out in less time than it takes to get my hair cut. I’m excited to watch our skilled Sight.org medical team, (all of them native Africans who live there), working like a well-oiled machine to give vision back to 150 adults. I’m very excited to watch our patients’ faces light up and to hear their voices shout with delight. I can’t wait to see their feet dancing in celebration as the darkness lifts when the eye patches come off. But that’s not what I’m most excited about seeing.
I’m excited to ride up into the rural hillsides in the Sight.org van, seated between Lewis and Beth as we pick up four children – little ones who’ve never seen their parents, family, or friends due to cataract-induced blindness since birth. I look forward to watching them the day after surgery when they look into their parents’ eyes for very first time. But that’s not what I’m most excited about seeing.
It gives me chills to think about bringing these now-seeing children back to their families and communities. The ten-year-old boy, who has had no friends, will now be chasing the soccer ball along with the rest of the guys. The seven-year-old, who was born the same month as Sight.org in June 2012, will gaze at the African sky for very first time. As satisfying as these scenes are, they’re not what I’m most excited about seeing.
Raymond will drive us to three villages in the Elavagnon region where our medical team has brought vision to 2221 people since we first ventured into this Voodoo and witchcraft-dominated region in 2016. I’ll meet our Togolese brothers and sisters in Christ who heard the good news of Jesus and accepted his offer of forgiveness and eternal life when our medical team brought them the gospel. I’ll join their evening circle around the village mango tree as the African sun sets and the solar-powered audio device begins playing the New Testament in the Ewe dialect. I’ll probably clap, sing, and dance the praises of Jesus with the. Those of you who know me know I mean that literally! But even these new Christ-followers are not what I’m most excited about seeing in Africa.
I find myself nervously and excitedly looking forward to seeing God work by the power of His Holy Spirit, drawing people out of the spiritual abyss and into the glorious light of His Son Jesus. I am awestruck at the thought of watching Him rescue his creations from the fear of death which has held them captive all their lives. As incredible as that will be, it’s not the number one thing I am looking forward to seeing while there on the equator.
What I am most excited about seeing is God in all His glory. The best definition of “glory” I’ve ever heard is from my pastor Gary Brandenburg who said, “glory is when the invisible God is made visible.” I’m looking forward to seeing His glory as relationships form between our team and our patients. As He surprises us with the things we need, right when and where we need them. As He empowers us beyond our talents and training to do His works of healing that are clearly beyond our capability. As He opens blinded minds and hearts to the great love He has for each person. As He restores hope to people when their vision is restored. As He becomes visible in people who place their faith in Jesus because they believed our message. As He calls more people to become a part of Sight.org as they watch the surgeries live on Facebook.
Lord, open their eyes.
And open mine even wider.
Written by Todd Hinkie, Sight.org Director of Strategic Growth and Development
Do you want to go with us to the operating room, the mango tree, the villages and the towns of southern Togo? Lord willing and technology cooperating, we will be streaming live on our Facebook Page, so now’s the time to be sure you’re following!