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?