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! 

 

 

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?

Thank You So Much!

Thank You So Much!

Sight Night was a great success and we are humbly grateful to you for coming and to everyone who gave so generously. To God be the glory!

We’re excited to let you know that you raised $30,081 at Sight Night toward our goal of $41,250! This will bring sight to 200 people in Togo over the next four months!

THANK YOU!!!!

We can’t tell you how much it means to people in Togo to know that people like you care enough to help. They are overwhelmed when we tell them that someone across the world paid for their eye surgeries.

Thank you for caring.

 

Thank you to Callynth Photography Studio for hosting Sight Night and for taking the beautiful photos above.

Thank you also to BSCENE for coming out and taking photos. You can see their photos here.

Thank you to our sponsors:

Four Seasons Women’s Health

Dr. Neshia Rudd, Optometrist (Today’s Vision)

Ragsdale & Martin Optical

Yarbrough Wilcox Law Firm

Pixologie Tyler

Co.Work Tyler

Medical Recruiting | MedicalRecruiting.com

Heaton Eye Associates

Neighbors Emergency Center- Tyler

Lisa Barr

We Thank God for this Little Miracle Baby

We Thank God for this Little Miracle Baby

Big, HUGE, Announcement from Lewis Swann, founder of Sight.org

 

“Naomi and I are EXCITED to announce that we have a little one on the way!

We want to give God all the glory for this little miracle baby that He has given us. It is always in His perfect timing that He gives us good gifts and cultivates something in us that we wouldn’t otherwise have, while we wait.”

 

Watch video below to see the gender reveal.

 

We are all very excited about this new little addition to the Sight.org team!

We would love for you to pray for a healthy pregnancy for Naomi and a happy, healthy baby!

 

 

5 Things I Didn’t Know About West Africa

5 Things I Didn’t Know About West Africa

“The Africa I expected to see…was not nearly as amazing as the Africa I found when we got there.”

In July of this year, my wife Becky and I traveled to Togo, West Africa to serve the Sight.org team. I came home changed by what we saw in Africa, and I’m sure Africa has a lot more to teach me. Here are five things I didn’t know about West Africa before our trip:

1. West Africa is incredibly green (during the rainy season).

The rainy season in West Africa runs from about June to September. During this season, the land explodes with lush vegetation. Crops of corn, beans, yams, peppers, rice, as well as bananas, papaya and mangos and other varieties are farmed. In the rural villages we visited, the roads are lined with men and boys carrying machetes and hoes heading to or from the fields. The women and girls travel with washtubs of freshly harvested produce on their heads.

2. Many (very many) people live without electricity or running water.

I know, it shouldn’t have been a surprise to find that a large segment of the population in a developing country lives without some basic amenities. The truth is, I considered indoor plumbing and electric lights essential, if not for life, at least for happiness. But we actually found that we benefitted in many ways from living without these conveniences. Undistracted, unhurried conversations with our friends and teammates replaced “virtual” social media exchanges. The indescribably magnificent night sky which was unobstructed by buildings and streetlights was a nightly source of awe and amazement. Here’s another benefit that I still smile when I think about: the exhilaration (I’m not overstating it) of a breeze and a bit of shade on a hot sunny day. Pure pleasure. (No, I’m not giving up air conditioning.)

3. Virtues abound among the people.

Gratitude, hard work, service, hospitality, just to name a few. I was continually impressed by the way complete strangers in the most primitive villages welcomed us warmly. Just one example of gratitude I witnessed: Our van was slowly driving through a jam-packed market and a man shouted something to our driver, Raymond, who pulled over. In a few minutes, an elderly woman appeared from a side street wearing the telltale pair of sunglasses that indicated she was one of Sight.org’s cataract patients. She began shouting, raising her hands and dancing, expressing her joy and gratitude for her restored sight. Turns out her surgery was months before, but the gratitude was still strong enough for them to pull us over for an impromptu party on a crowded street.

“Turns out her surgery was months before, but the gratitude was still strong enough…for an impromptu party on a crowded street.”

4. Commitment to Christ costs.

I came to Togo wanting to see God in a bigger context. I’ve been a believer in Jesus Christ for more than 35 years and a pastor for 20 but I know my experience and understanding of almost every aspect of what it means to be a Christian is limited. What does faith look like in other tribes and nations? What does worship sound like in another (foreign to me) tongue? One big difference between my daily experience of faith and our Togolese brothers and sisters experience is that they often pay a heavy price to be identified as a Christian. Africa comprises a potent mix of religions, many of them hostile to Christianity. When a person becomes a follower of Jesus Christ they are often ostracized by their village or disowned by their family. The effect I saw in them, however wasn’t discouragement, but a deeper commitment to the study of the word, prayer and especially fellowship and worship.

5. Africans helping Africans.

This is the single most eye-opening fact that I witnessed in my brief time in West Africa. Africans are helping Africans and they are much better at it than I’ll ever be. I was humbled to be a part of a team of West African men and women, young and old alike, doctors, nurses, laborers and missionaries, whose passion for Christ and for their Togolese neighbors is resulting in healed bodies, mended hearts and transformed lives. They communicated with little or no need for an interpreter. They knew the culture, the needs and the circumstances of the people and they are highly motivated to serve them. This doesn’t mean that they don’t need our help, I still believe that the needs in Africa are great and that the resources in the West are also great, but our role, my role should be to equip the Africans who are serving Africans.

“Africans are helping Africans and they are much better at it than I’ll ever be.”

We’ve been back home for a while now and I’m still processing many of the things we saw there. The Africa I expected to see when we traveled there, the sights, the people and the work, was not nearly as amazing as the Africa I found when we got there.

Written by Joe Canal, Pastor of Tyler Christian Fellowship Church in Tyler, TX.

Read more about Joe and Becky’s trip here and here.

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