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!

 

You are going to love these people!

You are going to love these people!

Get ready to fall in love with a group of people you have never met before!

During the month of July, there will be several volunteers traveling from Texas to Togo with Sight.org. We want to introduce them to you so that you can pray for them and follow along with their trip.

Steve and Helen Clark

The Clarks got connected to Sight.org last year when Wayne and Elaine Riley became missionaries in Togo. The Clarks and the Rileys have gone to church together for about thirteen years. The Clarks have been married for 34 years, and they are so cute together! They have four children and three grandchildren.

Steve started volunteering in the Sight.org office last year, and he has become our most beloved volunteer. He is a hard worker with a servant’s heart. He is a former fighter pilot, civil engineer, and public school counselor and administrator.

Helen is originally from England and was a British Registered Nurse. She now works in Tyler as a physical therapy assistant.

Helen will be assisting with medical clinics while Steve encourages our medical team and helps with the house churches.

This is what Steve says about their trip to Togo.

I want to go to Togo to serve but I also want to learn. I want to learn more about the people and the team so that I can serve them better here in Tyler. Since I am volunteering in the Sight.org office every week, I want to learn as much as I can about the ministry so that I can serve them better. Helen has a medical background, so she feels that she can easily walk alongside the medical team while they are there.

 

Joe and Becky Canal

The Canals also got connected with Sight.org through Wayne and Elaine Riley. The Riley’s go to church where Joe pastors. Joe has been the pastor of Tyler Christian Fellowship (TCF) for twenty-eight years. TCF is a tight nit community, so when the Riley’s became missionaries with Sight.org, the entire church became Sight.org supporters in one way or another.

This is what Joe has to say about their trip to Togo.

In April of this year Lewis Swann, Sight.org’s founder and president, invited me to become a member of their board of directors. Lewis felt that I would be a strength to the organization, based on my years of experience as a senior pastor. He saw great opportunity for me to encourage and disciple members of the Sight.org team as well as minister to the many individuals whose lives are being transformed through the work that they are doing in Togo. That’s why Becky and I are planning a short-term mission trip this summer to Togo, West Africa.

 

The main purpose of our trip is to minister to the spiritual needs of the leaders and full time workers on the ground. As the work is expanding the need for encouragement and discipleship is increasing for the team as well as those that they are reaching every month. We’re excited to help train and equip these dedicated people who are doing such amazing work among the poor.

 

Rachel Baber

Rachel is a Registered Nurse who went to Togo last year. She will be doing more medical clinics like she did last year. You can read more about Rachel and her last trip here.

Rachel has a huge heart for missions. She uses the gifts God has given her to serve everyone around her. She blew us away last year with her loving spirit when she went to Togo. We are beyond excited that she is joining our team again. The Togolese medical team can’t wait to see her again!

 

Lewis and Naomi Swann

The Swanns are the founders of Sight.org. They will be there alongside the rest of the team. You can read their story here.

 

Over the next month, we will be relaying stories from each member of this team as they serve alongside our Togolese team members. We are all excited about what God will be doing in and through them.

We ask for your prayers over each team member. We have developed a prayer calendar with helpful suggestions on how to pray.

Lewis arrived in Togo a few days ago, and he and the Togolese team are already facing spiritual warfare. The enemy does not like what God is doing through Sight.org and he is trying to stop it any way that he can. Please pray that everyone involved will have their spiritual armor on daily so that they can move forward in what God wants them to do. 

The Faces of Adjon

The Faces of Adjon

Take a look at these three faces.

 

 

These are not the kind of faces that are treated well in rural Africa. They are often isolated or looked down on. Many people think that faces like these are cursed.

 

However, in the house church in the village of Adjon, these faces are loved.

They are taken care of.

They are prayed for.

That is because the love of Jesus has changed the people in this house church.

 

adjon

adjon

adjon

adjon

adjon

adjon

 

Everyone in this house church are baby Christians, but they have been changed. They don’t look at each other the same way they used to.

In a way, everyone in this house church has become outcasts. They are looked down on because they are Christians now.

The rest of the village thinks they are crazy because they meet every week to pray, worship, and listen to the Word.

 

adjon

adjon

adjon

 

But they love anyway.

 

They are determined to be a light to their village. They forgive their neighbors for calling them crazy, and they keep meeting.

 

They meet in the middle of the village, where everyone can hear them. Their praises cannot be ignored.

 

adjon

 

One night, a man was sitting in his house while the church was meeting. He could hear them saying that God wants us to forgive others, no matter what.

The next day, he came to the house church, humbled. He could not ignore what he had overheard.

He and his sister live in the same house, but have not talked to each other in years because of a grudge they are holding. He was so convicted by what he heard the night before, that he talked to his sister and asked for forgiveness.

 

God is doing miracles in these new Christians. However, they are also experiencing a lot of hardships and spiritual warfare.

 

We told you last year about a woman named Malibow. She suffers from Epilepsy and has scars all over her body from falling into a fire during a seizure.

She is now a Christian and her heart has been completely changed by Jesus. She is also getting medicine for her Epilepsy, so her seizures have lessened. We praise God for all of these things.

However, she has asked for continued prayer, because Satan overwhelms her with fear and nightmares every night. Her sleep has been stolen from her.

 

adjon

 

We also told you about a woman who had not heard from her son in four years.

After the house church prayed for her, her son came home just a few weeks later. Everyone was overjoyed that God had answered her prayer so quickly.

Her son was excited to get involved with the house church and even started building a fish pond for the village.

Soon, however, everything seemed to be against him. He faced one thing after another that kept him from finishing the pond.

He has also started struggling with certain sins that he has never experienced before.

He has asked for prayer that he can continue the work God has for him.  

 

adjon

 

These faces love Jesus.

 

But they wouldn’t love Jesus if it weren’t for the Sight.org eye surgeries. 

This house church was started after Sight.org did eye surgeries in their region.

These eye surgeries are so much more than just giving physical sight to the blind.

These eye surgeries make people want to know more about the God that we serve. They become hungry for the Word of God and ask for more.

We praise God for how he is using these eye surgeries for his kingdom.

 

We ask you to pray for the beautiful faces in this house church as they continue to grow in their relationship with God and as they experience hardships in the midst of it all.

 

adjon

adjon

adjon

adjon

adjon

adjon

 

Please prayerfully consider supporting the Sight.org eye surgeries that open a doorway for the gospel in Togo, Africa.

 

 

 

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