Voodoo, Satan Worshippers, and Jesus

Voodoo, Satan Worshippers, and Jesus

I just returned from my most recent trip to Africa. I want you to know about it since you have been such a big support to this ministry. 

On this trip, our doctors performed 155 eye surgeries. Four of those surgeries were performed on children.

Baby Akoua’s eyes were so crossed that she saw mostly her nose all the time. She had difficulty walking and constantly bumped into things. We performed surgery on her and now her eyes are beautifully positioned and she can see well. She is starting to walk straight now. Her mother was so happy. Thank you for altering the life of this precious little girl.

During surgery we also set up a prayer tent. A constant flow of people came to the tent. The majority of the people who came to us believed in Voodoo, and many specified that they worshiped Satan. But we weren’t worried! Jesus loves Satan worshipers too! 

Most of these people had zero understanding of the gospel. They had never heard the gospel, and they didn’t even know what Christians believed. Often when they came, they asked for a blessing or for advice on life challenges. We always led them directly to the real answer: our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

One by one, we saw dozens of people take off their Voodoo charms as they confessed Christ as Lord. One woman even took off her Voodoo bracelet and threw it into the fire. We all watched it burn together and celebrated her new found freedom in Christ.

 

My pastor, Joseph Canal, thinks he led more people to Christ in those four days than he has in thirty years as a pastor. It was amazing and sobering at the same time. 

Several people expressed that they would be the only Christians in their village. Persecution was inevitable for these people. For some, we asked them to join our discipleship program at our headquarters. For others, God had different plans. One man became a Christian who had been a Satan worshipper. Within minutes, a strong Christian from his village walked up and offered to take him under his wing. 

Many people come back days later telling us all that Jesus had already done in their life. One man even told us that Jesus appeared to him in a dream.

It was such a powerful experience that tops most trips I have done. It wouldn’t have been possible without supporters like you! Thank you so much for your support! You are making an eternal impact in Togo! 

Lewis Swann

Founder and Executive Director

I’m So Not Excited

I’m So Not Excited

If you had asked me two years ago where Togo is, I would have responded, “Isn’t that off the coast of Australia?”  

 

That’s what I said when Lewis approached me about getting involved with Sight.org. (I was confusing Togo, a small West African country, with Tonga, a tiny South Pacific island!)  Find Lome, Togo on your map app. That’s where Beth, Lewis and I will step off the plane into a ninety degree February morning. I may well be saying to myself “Togo – we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

 

I’m excited about seeing a place on the planet where daily life is radically different from how I live 24/7 in the buckle of the Bible belt in Tyler, Texas, USA. But that’s not what I’m most excited about seeing.

 

I’m excited to be in the operating room for four full days as one Togolese person after another gets their blinding cataracts cut out in less time than it takes to get my hair cut.  I’m excited to watch our skilled Sight.org medical team, (all of them native Africans who live there), working like a well-oiled machine to give vision back to 150 adults. I’m very excited to watch our patients’ faces light up and to hear their voices shout with delight.  I can’t wait to see their feet dancing in celebration as the darkness lifts when the eye patches come off. But that’s not what I’m most excited about seeing.

 

I’m excited to ride up into the rural hillsides in the Sight.org van, seated between Lewis and Beth as we pick up four children – little ones who’ve never seen their parents, family, or friends due to cataract-induced blindness since birth.  I look forward to watching them the day after surgery when they look into their parents’ eyes for very first time. But that’s not what I’m most excited about seeing.

 

It gives me chills to think about bringing these now-seeing children back to their families and communities.  The ten-year-old boy, who has had no friends, will now be chasing the soccer ball along with the rest of the guys.  The seven-year-old, who was born the same month as Sight.org in June 2012, will gaze at the African sky for very first time. As satisfying as these scenes are, they’re not what I’m most excited about seeing.

 

Raymond will drive us to three villages in the Elavagnon region where our medical team has brought vision to 2221 people since we first ventured into this Voodoo and witchcraft-dominated region in 2016. I’ll meet our Togolese brothers and sisters in Christ who heard the good news of Jesus and accepted his offer of forgiveness and eternal life when our medical team brought them the gospel. I’ll join their evening circle around the village mango tree as the African sun sets and the solar-powered audio device begins playing the New Testament in the Ewe dialect. I’ll probably clap, sing, and dance the praises of Jesus with the.  Those of you who know me know I mean that literally! But even these new Christ-followers are not what I’m most excited about seeing in Africa.

 

I find myself nervously and excitedly looking forward to seeing God work by the power of His Holy Spirit, drawing people out of the spiritual abyss and into the glorious light of His Son Jesus. I am awestruck at the thought of watching Him rescue his creations from the fear of death which has held them captive all their lives. As incredible as that will be, it’s not the number one thing I am looking forward to seeing while there on the equator.

 

 

What I am most excited about seeing is God in all His glory.  The best definition of “glory” I’ve ever heard is from my pastor Gary Brandenburg who said, “glory is when the invisible God is made visible.”  I’m looking forward to seeing His glory as relationships form between our team and our patients. As He surprises us with the things we need, right when and where we need them.  As He empowers us beyond our talents and training to do His works of healing that are clearly beyond our capability. As He opens blinded minds and hearts to the great love He has for each person.  As He restores hope to people when their vision is restored. As He becomes visible in people who place their faith in Jesus because they believed our message. As He calls more people to become a part of Sight.org as they watch the surgeries live on Facebook.

 

Lord, open their eyes.  

And open mine even wider.

 

Written by Todd Hinkie, Sight.org Director of Strategic Growth and Development

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Do you want to go with us to the operating room, the mango tree, the villages and the towns of southern Togo?  Lord willing and technology cooperating, we will be streaming live on our Facebook Page, so now’s the time to be sure you’re following! 

 

 

An Almost Impossible Feat

An Almost Impossible Feat

An Almost Impossible Feat.

That’s what bringing the gospel to Togo’s unreached people groups seems like.

 

Togo is a nation with thirty-nine spoken dialects and a very poor literacy rate.

 

But thanks to one of our partner organizations, Faith Comes by Hearing, the Bible is available in audio form in 1,128 languages and counting! This year, Faith Comes by Hearing graciously donated two Proclaimer Audio Bibles to Sight.org.

 

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impossible

 

Each of these Proclaimers can broadcast recordings of the Bible to groups of up to 300 people. They are rechargeable via solar energy and hand crank.

 

We have given those Proclaimers to two new house churches in Togo. They are in a region with little to no access to the gospel. 

 

Thanks to Faith Comes by Hearing, these two churches and their 250 new believers are able to come together each week to hear God’s word in their own dialect.

Thank you to our friends at Faith Comes by Hearing!

 

 

 

Read more about the new house churches!

 

 

 

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.

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.

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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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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.

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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.

 

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