Epiphanie: Blind and Deaf from Birth

Epiphanie: Blind and Deaf from Birth

Epiphanie was blind and deaf from birth. We knew he was blind from the second we saw him. We could see the blank stare on his face. But someone had to tell us that he was deaf. We would have never known otherwise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were so surprised because he smiled all the time and responded to his dad’s voice. We could really tell a difference when he touched his arm though. His face lit up every time. He had the most beautiful smile. We all teared up the first time we saw him. He was precious.

We couldn’t wait to give this little guy his sight back.

 

 

As soon as we found out he was both blind and deaf, we all thought of Helen Keller. Everyone knows her story, but not many people meet someone in person who is blind and deaf.

It is mind blowing to come face to face with someone knowing that they can’t hear or see. I paused many times, thinking about what life would be like if I couldn’t hear or see. Surely, life would be so dark and sad. Yet when I looked at Epiphanie’s face, I didn’t see darkness or sadness. I saw joy, light, and peace.

I didn’t understand how he could have such a huge smile on his face all the time.

 

 

Epiphanie and his father showed up for surgery five days early, so we got to follow Epiphanie around all week. He was a joy to be around. He rarely had anything but a smile on his face. We saw him fuss maybe once or twice.

 

 

There was one other boy his age who was also waiting for surgery. His name was Foley. Throughout the week they became sweet friends. They often played games with each other. They were typical boys, even though they were blind. By the end of the week, they were inseparable. They sat next to each other every chance they got.

 

 

On the day of Epiphanie’s surgery, craziness happened in the operating room. The oxygen tank stopped working that operated the special scalpel for children’s surgery. We had scheduled all five children’s surgeries for that day and were only able to do two. Epiphanie was one of the two who actually had surgery that day.

I will never forget Epiphanie’s cute little body sitting cross legged on a table with his surgery cap on. That huge smile never left his face. 

 

 

As I watched him lay down on the operating table, my heart jumped. It was a mixture of excitement and nervousness.

 

 

Everything went well with his surgery. As his dad carried him out of the operating room, Epiphanie’s friend Foley ran as fast as he could to be with him. Foley hadn’t had his surgery yet, so he couldn’t see, but he just knew he needed to be with his friend during that time. And he knew that he would be next.

 

The next day, our optometrist took the patches off Epiphanie’s eyes. I don’t know if Epiphanie even knew what was happening. How could he? He was deaf so his dad couldn’t tell him what was happening. Can you imagine? He hadn’t seen for his entire eight years of life. He didn’t even know it was an option to be able to see. Then suddenly, he was being unpatched and he could see, for the first time in his life! He was experiencing it all in his head still because he couldn’t talk about it or be told about it. It just happened.

 

We knew he could see immediately. He looked all around him. He wasn’t scared to look like some of the other children. It is interesting to see how people experience their first sight in different ways. Some are scared. Some cry. Some laugh. Some dance. Some stare in silence. Some smile.

Epiphanie smiled, as usual.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That same day, I posted Epiphanie’s sweet smile on social media.

His smile caught the attention of another very sweet boy across the world.

When twelve-year-old Price James saw a photo of Epiphanie and heard his story, he was overwhelmed. God did something in Price’s heart that day. He gave him compassion for a boy all the way across the world that he had never met.

Price put Epiphanie’s photo on the home screen of his phone and couldn’t stop looking at his face. He often wondered about him and his family. Price truly fell in love with Epiphanie’s joyful smile.

When Price saw a video of Epiphanie seeing for the first time, he showed it to his whole family. He told everyone that he wanted to go to Togo and meet Epiphanie.

 

 

The Holy Spirit truly got ahold of Price’s heart the day he saw Epiphanie’s face. He even wrote a letter to tell about his love for Epiphanie.

 

 

The Sight.org staff is humbled by the purity of Price’s love for someone he has never met. We pray that God will continue to do big things in both Price and Epiphanie’s lives. Who knows, maybe one day they will get to meet each other. We serve a very big God!

 

You can give sight to someone just like Epiphanie. For $12.50 a month, you can give sight and the gospel to one person a year.

Will you prayerfully consider giving today?

 

Ama’s Mother’s Day was 3 Months Ago

Ama’s Mother’s Day was 3 Months Ago

Ama traveled over 700 miles from the country of Mali to the country of Togo to see her family. She was a twenty three-year-old mother with a beautiful eight-month-old baby girl named Blessing.

This first-time mom had never seen her baby girl because she went blind in both eyes during pregnancy.

 

 

(In a culture where witchcraft is prevalent, pregnant women are often told not to drink water. Dehydration during pregnancy can either leave the mother or baby blind. We see this all too often in Togo.)

Ama thought that she went blind because someone put a curse on her. Curses are common, so this is the first thing that came to her mind. She didn’t know that she could have prevented her blindness by drinking water during her pregnancy.

Ama thought she was traveling to Togo just to see family. But God brought her to Togo for something bigger.

Her mother-in-law had just heard about Sight.org, so she drove three hours to bring Ama to us. Our doctor knew immediately that he could help her.

Ama became the first eye surgery patient of 2019.

 

 

Our staff was so excited for the first surgery that we all crowded around the operating room to watch. As Ama was lying on the table getting prepped, I noticed that every muscle in her body was shaking. I’m not talking about a little shake in her hands. Her legs shook, her arms shook, her stomach shook, even the muscles in her neck were shaking. She was scared to death.

 

 

I couldn’t just stand there watching. My heart broke for her and I had to do something. I asked the doctor if I could hold her hand and pray for her during surgery and he said, “Yes, anything you can do to keep her calm will be helpful!”

 

Our eye surgeries only last fifteen minutes, so I thought it would be pretty easy to sit with her for just that short time. I forgot that she had to be fully prepped before and cleaned after. I sat on a rolling stool as my arms and legs fell asleep. But it was all worth it. I prayed over Ama and held her hand. I could see the muscles in her body slowly calm down.

 

 

Soon, it was all over and the doctor proclaimed that her surgery went very well and she would be able to see the next day.

 

As Ama rested and recovered, I got to play with her beautiful daughter. I imagined what it would be like to not see my own children, to miss out on seeing their precious eyes and cute dimples.

 

 

Ama missed out on the first eight months of her daughter’s life.

She didn’t see Blessing’s tiny fingers and toes get bigger every day. This young mother didn’t get to watch her baby grow over the first several months. She never experienced looking into the eyes of her baby and completely melting with love.

 

 

I hurt for Ama.

I grieved that she missed out on so much with her baby. She missed out on so much joy that comes with being a mother.

But then, I rejoiced for her.

When our optometrist took the patches off her eyes, we all gathered around once more. We couldn’t wait for this sweet mother to see her beautiful baby for the first time.

 

 

To be honest, it wasn’t what we all expected. We wanted it to be like the movies. We wanted her to open her eyes and see her baby. We wanted her to cry with joy.

None of that happened.

When Ama opened her eyes, she was almost frozen. They handed her baby to her and she just sat there.

Maybe she was overwhelmed.

Maybe she was still groggy from the medicine.

Maybe she was in pain.

We don’t know.

 

 

Finally, after what seemed like forever, Ama picked up her baby’s foot and examined it. Her baby cried so she fed her. As she fed her, she looked into her eyes.

 

 

It wasn’t as dramatic as we expected.

It was real life.

She had just recovered from major surgery but she was still a mother with responsibilities. She just kept going as usual, taking care of her baby. She just did what she needed to do.

A few days later, we caught a few glimpses of her smiling and playing with her baby. Sweet little Blessing was all smiles, all the time. Could she tell a difference in her mom? Did she know that her mom was seeing her for the first time? Did she feel more connected to her mom?

 

 

One week earlier, Ama had no idea that her life was about to change. She didn’t know that she would be getting her sight back. She also didn’t know that a bunch of strangers would pray over her and tell her all about the One who brought her there. That is the whole reason Sight.org is in Togo, to point people to Jesus. To open the eyes of the blind both physically and spiritually.

We don’t know how Ama responded when she heard the good news of Jesus, but our team did not miss a chance to tell her about Him and pray over her. God brought her there for a reason and we all knew it.

This Mother’s Day, will you pray for Ama?

Pray for her heart.

Pray that she responds to God’s loving voice.

Pray that she will not ignore the fact that God chased after her.

Pray that she bonds even more with her baby now.

Pray that God transforms Ama in every way.

 

 

Watch video of Ama as she gets her patches off!

 

 

 

 

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

—————-

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! 

 

 

Are You Exhausted?

Are You Exhausted?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

exhausted

 

I was blown away.

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

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

 

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

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

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.

 

impossible

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!

 

 

 

Pin It on Pinterest