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.

 

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“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.

 

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“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.

 

 

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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.'”

 

 

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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.”

 

 

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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.

 

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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
Katawayna

Katawayna

Because of you, there is a little girl named Katawayna who can now go back to school.

Katawayna

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.

 

Katawayna

 

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.

 

Katawayna

 

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.

 

Katawayna

 

Katawayna

 

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?

Stories Behind the Art at Sight Night 2017

Stories Behind the Art at Sight Night 2017

At Sight Night: The Joy of Sight, we featured local art in our silent auction. Each artist read through the Sight.org blog and then created art inspired by those stories. We are blown away at the talent of each one of these artists! They truly captured the heart and mission of Sight.org. Below, you can see each piece of art and the stories behind them. You can see more photos from the event here.

 

 

Cairo Reyes

“Being Free”

Resin / Acrylic

Inspired by the blog story, “Meheza Means “I Am Free”

 

 

Umeki Earl-Nelson

“Meheza: “I Am Free”

textiles/fabrics

Inspired by the blog story, “Meheza Means “I  Am Free”

This is a painting of Meheza, the Togo Director of SIght.org. Meheza has been in the United States for three weeks. She attended Sight Night and got to see this painting of her. From the second she saw the painting, she said numerous times, “I wish I could buy that painting for myself!” The person who bid on this painting felt led to give this painting to Meheza, not even knowing that she wanted it. When she presented the painting to Meheza at the end of the night, everyone had tears in their eyes.

 

 

 

Rosemary Nichols Swann

“Elizabeth”

Gouache and acrylic on archival board

Inspired by the blog story, “Elizabeth”

 

 

Monique Dorsey

“In My Father’s Arms”

Oil on Canvas

Inspired by the blog story, “Story of an African Father”

 

 

Carrie McFerron

“An Infinity of Trees”

Digital Collage

Inspired by the blog story, “Hungry for Jesus”

The artist was especially inspired by the house church meeting under a mango tree.  She said, “I kept thinking about how God put that mango tree in that spot so that people could learn about Jesus. The planting of a tree to enable the planting of a church seemed like such a perfect parallel. So I looked for a verse that conveyed the concept and came upon Psalm 96:12, ‘Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy,’ which made me thing of a forest of churches that could be planted as a result of the gathering under the village mango tree. Hence, I made an image with a wreath of trees, creating an infinite number of churches. When you read all of Psalm 96, you realize how missional this Psalm is, which is very rare for the Old Testament! Verse 3 says, ‘Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all the peoples.’ Verse 7 says, ‘Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.'”

 

 

Carrie McFerron

“Edem”

Paper Cutting

Inspired by the blog story, “Hungry for Jesus”

Edem is a popular name for Togolese boys. The name is derived from African-Ewe and means “God has saved me.” The little boy I have depicted in this paper cutting represents a future child who will be born to Christian parents, and who will also become a Christian, as a result of the Sight.org team planting a church in his village. Just as a tree is symbolic for Edem’s church, Edem represents one of the leaves on that tree. Each leaf behind Edem in the paper cutting is a reminder of the many new Christians in Edem’s village and in other villages across Togo because of Sight.org’s work.

 

 

 Amanda Slaughter

“Grace Chairs”

Two Chairs with Seat covers that are hand painted by artist

Inspired by the blog story, “Weary of Serving, Give What You Can”

The artist stated, “I have sang and played music my whole life. It is one of the things I love to do. In the car, at home, in the studio, the grocery store. I sing everywhere I go and so do the kiddos. Song is free and a gift from God. I am made these chairs for two reasons. 1. Because just like our sight, having chairs to sit in is a luxury we often do not think about and too often take for granted. 2. Sitting and singing/harmonizing with someone is one of the most joyous events we can share with another human being. These chairs are fully functioning with actual paintings covering the seats. The original painting has the word grace written on it in many different ways. My hope is that these chairs are incorporated into someone’s home or business where song and laughter can be shared, stories can be told and meals can be eaten all while sitting on Grace.”

 

Mary Evelyn Tucker 

Farming God’s Way”

Watercolor on Archival Paper

Inspired by the blog story, “Connection Between Farming and Eye Surgeries”

“This piece was inspired by the training Sight.org is doing in Togo. Leaders are being trained in modern farming methods which produce ten times more produce than traditional methods for the area. My dad was a landscaper for over 30 years and I’ve grown to appreciate any and all forms of planting. God is so good to provide us with a simple way to provide for ourselves.”

 

Lisa Rachel Horlander 

“Germination”

Oil on Canvas

Inspired by the blog story, “Connection Between Farming and Eye Surgeries”

 

 

Lisa Rachel Horlander

Plethora

Oil on Canvas

Inspired by the blog story, “Connection Between Farming and Eye Surgeries”

 

 

Becky Chelf

“Matthew: 18:20″

Oil on Canvas

Inspired by a story on the Sight.org Facebook page.  “A woman named Sofoura came to us to look at her eyes. Her sister-in-law was very hateful to her and hit her in the eye. She hit her so hard that she developed a traumatic cataract. We told her to come to the April eye surgeries to see if our Sight.org medical team could remove the cataract. As we talked to her, she told us that she had an infection in her fingers that caused them to swell. They were so painful that she could not sleep. We prayed over her hands and then took her to the hospital to pay for treatment on her hands.”

 

 

Nicole Root

“They Once Were Blind but Now They See”

Charcoal and Color Pencil

Inspired by the general work of giving sight to the blind in Togo, Africa. The artist stated, “God has created so many wonderful things, one of which are eyes. The eye can express so many different things, pain, joy, anger, etc. I was inspired to give this piece because the eye stands out, and I take for granted the face that I can see. I want others to experience the joy I see every day. I thank our heavenly Father for this opportunity to shine the light of Christ.”

 

 

Stephanie Nickel

“Neighbors”

Oil on Canvas

Inspired by the blog story, “The Faces of Adjon”  “They meet in the middle of their village, where everyone can hear them. Their praises cannot be ignored.”
In this abstract piece, shapes emerge giving an allusion of buildings-houses or perhaps a church. A grouping of muffled figures appear, gathered closely together. They are other worldly, seemingly floating in space. The title of the piece is “Neighbors.” Jesus tells us that we are to love our neighbors and have mercy on them, making it clear that we are all neighbors.

 

 

Ashlie Bailey 

“Now I See You”

Watercolor on Archival Paper

Inspired by the general work done by Sight.org.

The painting above is of a blind harbor seal I met a few years ago named Porter. Porter was rescued and now lives at Moody Gardens. I believe that everyone deserves healing, and everyone deserves the gift of sight. I was so touched and inspired by this seals perseverance that I started a series of watercolor portraits of what he might look like if his eyes were completely restored, healed, and he were no longer blind.

 

 

Cynthia Mullen Hitchcock

“I Once Was Blind But Now I See, John 9:25″

Acrylic on Canvas

Inspired by the heart of the administration of Sight.org and the passion and compassion they have as a team for those that can’t. It just takes one to have a heart to make a difference. Can we all join in with that heart? In this painting it just shows a few of the lives they have changed from surgeries, to church plantings, prayers and nutrition. In the center of the painting starts from the hearts that started this program and how it spreads from one heart to another.

 

 

Angie Tellman           

“Off Riding on the Road”

Watercolor on archival paper

Inspired by the early work of Sight.org. Before we had an ambulance, teams set out to remote areas on motor bikes in order to do eye surgeries. The lush foliage and red earth is abundant in Togo.

 

 

 Angie Tellman

“Portrait of a Boy”

Watercolor on archival paper

Inspired by the Sight.org mission statement: All people are redeemable through Christ’s finished work on the cross, and we believe He died so that we could carry His light to the ends of the earth. By His grace, we have been redeemed to bring light to the BLIND, the UNREACHED, and the MALNOURISHED in Togo, Africa.

This painting is of one of the many faces of Togo where malnutrition causes cataracts. Sight.org not only performs cataract surgery, but also educates best farming practices.

 

 

 

 

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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.

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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.

 

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.

 

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adjon

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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.

 

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adjon

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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.

 

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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.  

 

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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.

 

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

 

 

 

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