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!
Founder and Executive Director
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.
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!