by Lewis Swann | Jul 2, 2018 | Beth, Blog |
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.
“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]
[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!
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?
by Lewis Swann | Jan 31, 2018 | Beth, Blog |
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.
by Lewis Swann | Jan 17, 2018 | Beth, Blog |
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.
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.
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.
by Lewis Swann | Dec 26, 2017 | Beth, Blog |
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.
“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.
“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.
“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.'”
“To open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
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?
by Lewis Swann | Nov 27, 2017 | Blog |
Because of you, there is a little girl named Katawayna who can now go back to school.
Katawayna is ten years old and was blind in her right eye from a cataract. She had stopped going to school because she couldn’t see her work.
Katawayna’s father did everything possible to get help for his daughter. He went to every doctor he knew. He spent so much money trying to get medicine for her eye that he was broke.
Then he heard about Sight.org.
To his delight, the Sight.org medical team checked Katawayna’s eyes and scheduled her surgery.
A few weeks later, Katawayna’s and her father arrived at the Sight.org mobile eye clinic.
The day of her surgery, her father was so excited that he showed up early. He wanted to help in any way he could. He even offered to help translate for the team. He spent the whole day helping the Sight.org team.
He couldn’t hide his gratitude.
At 1:30 that afternoon, Katawayna stepped into the mobile eye clinic. Her father stopped what he was doing to help her into the vehicle.
Then he waited.
He stared at the back doors of the clinic, nervously, wondering.
Thirty minutes later, the doors opened, and out walked his daughter, with a patch over her right eye.
Twenty-four hours later, the patch was removed, and she could see everything perfectly!
She is now back in school!
Katawayna’s father wants to say thank you for giving his daughter her sight back.
This Christmas, will you give sight to someone like Katawayna?
We have a goal of raising $41,250 by December 31st. This will provide eye surgeries for the next six months. So far, we have raised $31,081 of the $41,250. Will you be a part of reaching this goal?