Are You Exhausted?

Are You Exhausted?

Have you ever felt so exhausted you didn’t want to get out of bed?

 

 I felt that way a few weeks ago. Then, my friend texted me Isaiah 40:28-31 (AMP). I am extremely familiar with these verses. I even have a large painting of them hanging in my home. However, when I read them in the Amplified Version, I read them with fresh eyes.
exhausted
“Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become tired or grow weary;
There is no searching of His understanding.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who has no might He increases power.
Even youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
But those who wait for the Lord
[who expect, look for, and hope in Him]
Will gain new strength and renew their power;
They will lift up their wings
[and rise up close to God]
like eagles
[rising toward the sun];
They will run and not become weary,
They will walk and not grow tired.”

 

I realized that our strength comes from expecting, looking for, and hoping in God to do big things. Then I got excited about starting my day. I was no longer exhausted. My strength was renewed, knowing that God was going to do something big.

 

God is always doing big things around us. We just forget to look for him!

 

When I got to the office, Lewis told me that our medical team was about to do their two thousandth eye surgery!

 

exhausted

 

I was blown away.

I knew God was going to do something big that day, just like he has been doing every day for the last five years at Sight.org! God is opening the eyes of the blind in Togo both physically and spiritually. God is working in Togo!
 

You are a huge part of the work God is doing in Togo! You expect him to do big things when you donate, and look at that, he is!

 

I hope your strength is renewed today knowing that two thousand people have received their sight! I hope you feel like you can fly on wings like eagles knowing that God is opening doors for the gospel through these eye surgeries.
 
We know that the work is far from over. This is only the beginning. We are waiting expectantly for God to continue to do big things in Togo.
 

Will you join us in expecting, looking for, and hoping in God to do big things in Togo? Will you continue to pray for the people of Togo? Will you consider becoming a monthly donor to keep the work going?

Pharmacist Gives Sight to a Pharmacist

Pharmacist Gives Sight to a Pharmacist

 

As soon as I saw his description, I knew who I was going to match him with.

 

Each of our Visionaries gets matched with a patient. They get a photo and description of the patient to whom they gave sight. These descriptions include age, job, and sometimes family information.

 

I am always looking for matches that will connect to the heart of the donor.

 

A few months ago, Meheza sent me photos and a story about a man who had just received sight.

 

 

His description read:

His name is Adoli Mawukplom. He is 73 and he was a pharmacist in his village. He has eleven children and three of them have passed away. He has twelve grandchildren. He has been blind for five years now. He stopped his job when he went blind. Last month he heard about Sight.org and he told his daughter to bring him to us. He said, “I know I will get my sight back in Jesus name, if not God would not let me hear about Sight.org.”

 

As soon as I saw his description, I knew which of our Visionaries I was going to match him with.

 

Ashtin Taylor was one of our very first Visionaries. She has been donating monthly to give sight for almost two years. 

 

 

Ashtin is a pharmacist, so when I saw that Adoli was a pharmacist, I just knew I had to match them together.

 

We don’t see many patients who are pharmacists. In fact, I’m not sure we have ever seen one. Most of our patients are farmers, produce sellers, teachers, or pastors.

 

When I texted Ashtin with the photo of Adoli and his description, she was so thankful.

 

Ashtin and Adoli may never meet in person, but will always be connected in a very special way.

 

When asked why she gives monthly to Sight.org, this was Ashtin’s response:

“It is very easy for all of us to take for granted our health and access to healthcare here in the United States. People can come up to me any day of the week and ask for help with their healthcare and have easy access to the medications or treatments they need to remedy their problem. Not everyone in the world has this luxury and it’s easy to forget that. It takes very little time, effort and resources from me to make a very large impact on those who receive care from the Sight.org team. Also, I believe that it is very important that those of us who may not be able or called to go and do, support those who can. So it is important to be to be able to use the resources God has given me to help support those that are doing what He has called them to do out in the field.”

 

We are beyond thankful for each one of our Visionaries.

Their monthly support keeps eye surgeries going.

They open a door for the gospel to be shared with each patient. 

 

Will you open a door too?

Join Visionaries today!

 

Watch the video below to find out more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creating African Partnerships

Creating African Partnerships

Creating African Partnerships

African patients contributing so that future patients can see.

It has always been our desire to build up the African community. We never want to be just an American ministry working in Africa. We want to build a partnership with them.

 

Partership

 

 

That is why 80% of our full time staff are Africans who live in Togo year round. All of our pastors, medical staff, and agricultural staff are Africans.

 

We do what we can to build up the economy of Togo. Even when we take supplies to Togo, we check first to see if those supplies can be purchased in Togo instead of the United States.

 

 

Partnership

Partnership

Partnership

Partnership

Partnership

Partnership

Partnership

Partnership

Partnership

 

We have been around the world and have seen countries and cultures that are so accustomed to American charity, that they are no longer able to function on their own. Togo is not yet accustomed to American charity because there are very few western non-profits in Togo.

 

We do not want to be the ones who create this American dependence.

 

Therefore, we are constantly setting standards for our ministry to keep this from happening.

***Books such as Toxic Charity, Mountains Beyond Mountains, and When Helping Hurts have influenced the standards we have set. We have also been heavily influenced by the documentary, Poverty, Inc. We highly encourage you to check these resources out if you have any questions about the direction we are moving as a ministry.

 

In 2018, we have decided to start requesting our patients make some sort of contribution. They can bring a few thousand CFA (equivalant to a few American dollars) or simply bring a handful of produce from their farms. These contributions will never be enough to pay for their surgeries.

 

The purpose is not to have these contributions pay for their surgeries.

 

The purpose is for the people of Togo to feel that they are a part of this ministry.

 

The purpose is to bring them into a partnership with Sight.org.

 

When they bring a contribution, we tell them they are giving so that future patients can also receive sight restoring surgeries. It is a sort of “pay it forward” mentality.

 

The people of Togo are not helpless.

 

They are hardworking, responsible people.

 

They want to pay for their surgeries.

 

Many have tried to pay for their surgeries, but that would be the equivalent to several months wages.

 

Last week, we told the first group of patients that we would like for them to contribute something small on the day of their surgery. One patient brought 4000 CFA ($7.44 in American dollars). This isn’t much but it showed his desire to be part of our ministry.

 

As we explained the contribution request, patients wanted to go back to their villages and explain it to future patients. We explained to them that they were getting a free eye surgery that normally costs 80,000 CFA ($150 in American dollars). When they heard that, they were even more excited to be able to contribute something towards future surgeries.

 

We feel that the direction we are moving is a very positive direction for Sight.org and for the country of Togo.

 

We are excited that the people of Togo have a desire to partner with Sight.org in this way. The people of Togo are a beautiful people. We love their culture, and we want to do very little to change their hardworking, responsible mentality.

 

 

 

Out of Darkness, Into Light

Out of Darkness, Into Light

Jesus healed the blind man in John 9.

He led him out of darkness and into light. 

 

 

A few weeks ago, I was reading through a Bible study about Jesus healing the blind man in John 9. This Bible study described the common life of a blind man in Biblical times. It struck me that in Togo, the needs and circumstances of blind people are not so different from blind people in Biblical times.

 

“To be born blind was a debilitating handicap. Jewish men of this time were expected to take care of themselves and help provide for the family, and being blind forced one to depend solely on the charity of others.” 

 

Not everyone we see in Togo is blind from birth, like this man was. But being blind at any point in life is debilitating.

In the United States, it is not easy to be blind, but there are many resources for someone with visual impairment.

 

 

In Togo, there are very few resources for the visually impaired.

 

Like the blind man in the Bible, blind people in Togo depend on their family to take care of them.

 

 

Often, we see young children taking care of a blind parent, sibling, or grandparent. These young children end up quitting school because they spend so much time taking care of their family member.

 

darkness

 

 

 

“He would have also been viewed as a second-class citizen—not able to perform his duties, a drain on his family and society, and possibly a sinner from in the womb.”

 

 

Like the blind man in the Bible, blind people in Togo are considered lower class.

 

 

Their outer appearance often matches the lower-class perception. Since they cannot dress, feed or clean themselves, they rely on others for everything. They often wear the same clothes every day and have poor hygiene.

 

 

Some people even fear for their lives because they worry that their caretakers will poison their food so they will no longer be a burden.

 

 

The blind man in the Bible was considered a sinner from birth because of his handicap.

 

 

Most blind people in Togo are considered cursed.

 

 

If a woman sells produce in the market and then becomes blind, her normal customers will stop buying from her because they think she is cursed. If a young boy becomes blind, other children will stop playing with him because they will think he is cursed.

 

darkness

 

 

 

“This man…did not look forward to a favorable future. And like us, there was nothing he could do in his own power to bring light to his darkness.”

 

 

Blind people in Togo do not have a favorable future.

 

 

The only eye doctors in Togo are in the city, often hundreds of miles away from the rural population. The majority of blind people live in rural villages. If someone is blind, they are resigned to blindness for the rest of their lives.

However, when the Sight.org mobile eye clinic arrives in a village, the blind have hope again.

 

 

Jesus is using Sight.org to restore hope to the blind in Togo.

 

 

This year alone, over 500 blind people have had their sight restored. We have seen these people rejoicing because they are no longer debilitated by their blindness.

They can take care of themselves again. They can take care of their families again. They are no longer considered cursed and outcast.

 

 

When we see them days after their surgery, they look like completely different people.

 

They have clean clothes.

 

They have beautiful hair and shining faces.

 

They are brand new and full of hope and joy.

 

They are no longer living in darkness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Jesus sought him out a second time, and when He identified Himself as the Son of Man, the blind man underwent his second transformation: he believed Jesus’ claim, and worshipped. He worshipped! Worship is the outward expression of the inward change. The man bore witness of the external change by telling questioners of the man of power, and then bearing witness to the internal faith transformation by speaking his belief and worshipping Jesus—even in front of onlookers who were hostile to Christ (John 9:40). What beautiful worship this must have been!”

People in Togo often want to know why we are doing these free eye surgeries. They want to know why we help them when we don’t even know them.

 

 

These eye surgeries fling a door wide open for the gospel.

 

We have seen hundreds of people instantly praise God when we tell them that we are there because Jesus wants us there.

 

 

Worship seems a natural expression of the joy they are feeling. They have been transformed physically and then spiritual transformation follows.

Many newly sighted people have become Christians because they know that God sent Sight.org to them.

 

 

Seeing newly sighted people worship God with all their hearts is a beautiful sight.

 

Before surgery, they weep because of their debilitating handicap.

 

After surgery, they weep for joy because of their restored sight.

 

And we weep with them every time it happens.

 

 

darkness

 

John 8:12

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'”

 

 

darkness

darkness

darkness

 

Isaiah 42:7

“To open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”

 

 

darkness

darkness

darkness

 

Isaiah 9:2

The people walking in darkness

have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of deep darkness

a light has dawned.

 

darkness

darkness

 

 

Do you believe in a world without darkness?

 

A world where people’s physical and spiritual eyes are opened?

 

Will you be a part of leading people in Togo out of darkness and into the light?

 

 

*All quotes taken from IF:Equip Emmanuel Bible Study
Weary of Serving, Give What You Can

Weary of Serving, Give What You Can

Have you ever been weary of serving? What do you do in those times?

 

The volunteer team that is in Togo right now is weary. They have had long days and nights of serving. Even more so, our medical and ministry team that lives in Togo year round, is extremely weary.

Each month is full of eye surgeries, farming, and ministry. The life of service can be draining and discouraging.

weary

 

Several members of our volunteer team are in Togo just to encourage the medical and ministry team.

weary

Becky Canal shared this story of how God used her gifts to encourage Daniel, our ministry team leader.

“I spent time tonight teaching Daniel how to sing harmony because he heard me singing harmony during our times of worship and he has wanted to learn how to sing harmony for quiet a while now.

weary

He has a true passion for music and I am very moved by what God is doing in his heart with music and how he wants to share it with and help others.

He has been given several songs from the Lord that are just so unique and beautiful. I have never heard anything like it.

weary
 

He has an acute ear for picking up harmony and learns very quickly. I love the sound of his African voice blending with my American voice.

I am praying that the Lord will send someone to keep instructing him in his singing and playing the guitar and piano.

I never would have thought that this would be one of my reasons for coming to Africa.

I never thought that something I have been doing most of my life that the Lord would use me in this way.

Harmony comes so easy for me but I have never tried to teach someone and WOW Daniel is just a natural, so it is not difficult at all to sit around singing with him. It is so much fun!

His passion is truly inspiring and he has challenged me to go deeper in the Lord!

Last Sunday at the farm we had a church service with the team. Joe shared the word to encourage the medical and ministry team.

He said, ‘often we feel like we have nothing to give when we are weary of serving.’ So give what you have.

weary
weary
weary

This gift that God gave me that I have never used in this way, God chose to use it 6000 miles away and I feel humbled and blessed by Him.”

There are also several nurses on our volunteer team this month. They are truly using their gifts to serve the people of Togo.

Rachel Baber shared these stories with us.

weary
weary

“When we arrived, Chris (a boy who comes to the farm daily and is cared for by the Sight.org team) had a serious infection from a machete cut on his knee.

weary

Helen and Naomi had been cleaning the wound, but by the time I got here it was much worse.

Chris was limping and could barely bend his knee.

Since Chris has Sickle Cell Disease, he especially was at an extreme risk of complication from the wound.

We were able to find medicine to put on his wound. 

 

Within a few days Chris felt much better!

His wound was clean and healthy, and Chris could move his knee again and was not limping. He could even be found sitting on the porch singing to music now that he felt better.

This past week we visited a village outside of Amlamé.

I had been to this village exactly a year ago.

Upon arrival, the children recognized me and ran to greet me with hugs. They would not let go of my hand and crowded around me the rest of the way to the village.

 

weary
 

During the mornings Helen and I would treat the children and adults for worms, a common problem in Togo since clean drinking water is not readily available.

We provided the children with vitamins as well. Three pregnant women received pre-natal vitamins to take for the rest of their pregnancy.

Helen treated a few wounds since her expertise was in wound care when she worked as a nurse.

One girl had an infected machete cut on her foot that was so serious that we took her to a nearby hospital to get antibiotics and a tetanus shot.

One baby was brought to me. The father told me that the baby was nearly three years old and that the baby’s mother had died after he was born.

 

weary

It was hard to believe that the baby was nearly three because he was so tiny.

We treated him for worms and gave him an extended supply of vitamins to aid him in his nutrition as he continues to grow.

In the evenings Joe preached at the house church that Sight.org established last year.

The members of this house church would sing praise songs and dance. How they love to sing and dance!

 

weary

They were also very curious about the Bible and hungry to gain knowledge.

They would ask Steve, Helen, Joe, and Becky questions like: ”Jesus says to turn our cheek when someone slaps us. What does this mean? Is it a parable?’

One woman asked: ‘How often should we pray and fast?’

In the late evenings we would show the Jesus film and other films that explained the gospel. We even showed the film Planet Earth so that they could see animals and landscapes they had never seen before.

 

The children climbed in my lap and squealed with delight at seeing an ocean’s waves and it’s creatures, and watched with big eyes and open mouths as a crocodile’s jaws slammed shut.

weary

Upon leaving for the last time, the children held my hand as we walked down the dark trail towards the van. Some of the children softly sang ‘This Little Light of Mine’ and ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ that I had taught them during the previous days.”

The people in these villages are very special to the Sight.org, and now they have a special part in the hearts of our volunteer team.

God is moving in these villages because the medical, ministry, and volunteer teams are giving what they have.

God has given them all special gifts, and he is using those gifts for his kingdom.

They may be weary, but they give anyway.

Are you weary of serving? Just give whatever you can today. God will use it for more than you could ever imagine.

 

Meheza means “I am free”

Meheza means “I am free”

Meheza: “I am free”

You have probably heard us talk a lot about a woman named Meheza (or Meza for short). You may have wondered who she is. Simply put, Meza is the backbone of our Togo team.

Meza is the Togo National Director of Sight.org.

 

meza

 

Back in 2010, Meza was working on Mercy Ships with Lewis Swann (founder of Sight.org) and they became good friends while working together.

In 2012, Lewis left Mercy Ships to start Sight.org and Meza went back to Togo, her home country. Lewis begged Meza to work for him at Sight.org.

He knew that she had everything needed to be a great National Director. She grew up in Togo, she had experience in nonprofit work, and she came from a long line of strong Christian leaders.

Lewis knew that Meza was perfect for the job, but she turned him down. She already had a job and wasn’t quite sure that this new nonprofit that Lewis had started would actually pan out.

She kept an eye on Lewis and Sight.org though. She knew everything that his team was doing in Togo. She started realizing that God was really working though Sight.org

Lewis asked Meza a second time to join him. She still said no.

Then one day, Lewis and his team (which at that point, was just three people in Togo) got themselves into a bind. They needed help and Meza was the only one who could help them. She joined them on the field and saw the work first hand. She fell in love with the mission of Sight.org.

Lewis asked Meza a third time to join him. This time, she said yes.

Meza truly is a perfect fit for the National Director job at Sight.org. When Meza is leading the Togo team, she is in her element. It all comes so naturally to her.

 

meza

meza

meza

 

However, everything has not always been easy for her.

Meza’s husband works in France, so they have a long-distance marriage, which is not easy.

Two years ago, Meza was pregnant with their first child. She had several complications during her pregnancy. She was put on bed rest for the last few months of her pregnancy.

Obviously, this put a halt on her job duties with Sight.org. Thankfully, her beautiful baby girl, Flavia, was born healthy and happy.

 

meza

 

Flavia is now a part of the Sight.org team. She goes everywhere with Meza, even into the field with the medical team. She has inherited the entire Sight.org team as her “aunts and uncles.”

 

meza

 

As any mother knows, carrying a baby to work with you is not exactly easy or fun, but Meza does it all without any complaints.

During my last trip to Togo, I had the privilege of traveling all over Togo with Meza. She stayed with me every minute of every day. She didn’t bat an eye when I forgot my extra photos for my visa.

 

Meza

 

She took two weeks out of her busy schedule to be my tour guide. She listened to my constant questions and answered every single one of them patiently. She laughed at all my silly quirks.

 

Meza

 

She shared a room or tent with me every night and cooked for me. She left her daughter for days at a time just to join me with the ministry team (which she usually doesn’t have to do).

 

meza

 

She went out of her way to find new flip flops for me when mine broke. She took pictures of me when I wasn’t looking, to help me commemorate the trip. She helped me process everything I was seeing.

She even let me carry around her daughter on my back as I pretended to be an African momma.

 

meza

 

She was extremely patient with me, and I got to see that same patience with the Togo team. She is constantly dealing with difficult situations that come from working in a third world country, but she always stays so calm through it all.

 

meza

 

Being a woman in leadership is not common in Togo, but this doesn’t stop Meza. She can walk into any government or business office and immediately command the room. She has accomplished more than most women have in her country.

 

meza

 

There has only been one time that I’ve seen Meza get shaken. That was when sweet baby Natalie died.

Meza put all her energy and thoughts into keeping that baby alive. Meza was the first person to find Natalie and her family. She stopped at nothing to help that family.

I saw the true essence of her servant heart come out when we were helping Natalie and her parents. Naturally, her heart broke when Natalie died. But I also saw her strong faith in the midst of it all.

I have observed her strength all over again in the last few weeks. Last month, Meza got to go to France to see her husband.

She started getting headaches and feeling tired and fatigued.

When she went to the doctor, she found out that she has diabetes.

Diabetes is no laughing matter, but having to deal with it in a third world country just makes it even more difficult. Every time I talk to Meza about her diagnosis, she calmly tells me the facts and moves on to the next subject.

Her faith is strong and she knows God is still taking care of her.

Please pray for Meza as she learns to treat her diabetes.

Thankfully, she lives in the capitol city of Togo, so she has access to the treatment she needs. We also have three American nurses who will be in Togo with Sight.org this month, so they will be able to encourage her and give her advice.

It is no coincidence that the name Meheza means “I am free, I am good, I am ok.” God’s hand is on Meza’s life. No matter what she goes through, she is free and ok because God is taking care of her.

 

P.S. Meheza will be in the United States very soon! She will be at Sight Night: The Joy of Sight and would love to meet you if you are in Tyler!

 

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