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.

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.

weary

 

Several members of our volunteer team are in Togo just to encourage the medical and ministry team.

weary

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.

weary

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.

weary
weary
weary

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.

weary
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.

weary

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.

 

weary
 

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.

 

weary

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!

 

weary

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.

weary

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.

 

Region Where “No Charities Go” (Region of Witches)

Region Where “No Charities Go” (Region of Witches)

In Africa, challenges are not always what they seem.

 

As you may have read, this entire year, we are serving in the region of Elavagnon in Togo.

At the beginning of this year, you were asked to start praying for this region.

We knew from the beginning, that this region would be the biggest challenge Sight.org has ever faced.

The needs in this region are immense.

We have been serving this region for six months now. We now know the reason there are so many needs. It’s not the reason we originally thought.

Lewis Swann, founder of Sight.org is in Togo this month. He is seeing Elavagnon with his own eyes. He sent the following story to illustrate the reason for so many needs.

 

 

“When I arrived to Togo, Africa, I immediately traveled five hours north to join the medical team to perform fifty eye surgeries in a region called Elavagnon.

 

village

village

 

This region is known as the place where “no charities go.”

 

At least, that is what we were told by the Ministry of Health in Togo.

When the team arrived, they met 400+ people suffering from various eye diseases and blindness.

 

village

 

Based on the sheer numbers, it was obvious that eye care had not been there.

The team quickly selected the fifty patients for surgery, and many more were put on a waiting list for next month’s surgical outreach.

 

village

 

At face value, this region appeared very similar to others that we had served. However, we have met more challenges here than we usually face.

 

Our Togo Director, Meza, told me the Ministry of Health’s reason for why charities do not go to Elavagnon.

And that reason? Witches.

 

He expressed that no charity, not even secular charities, choose to work in Elavagnon. The area is known for witches and demonic practices.

The charities that try to serve here always fail in their mission.

The Ministry of Health was shocked to hear that our mission is going very well in Elavagnon.

 

But we do not go empty handed.

We come with a God much bigger than witchcraft, and our God is a God who loves witches…a lot!

 

Since we started working in Elavagnon, we have restored sight to hundreds of blind people and we have even started a church that is thriving with new believers, many of whom left witchcraft.

We don’t have to fear, and our best weapon is love.”

 

 

Please continue to pray for the region of Elavagnon.

You are making a difference in the lives of these people when you pray, not just physically, but also spiritually.

Pray against Satan’s attacks. Pray for the brand new house church that has been established there. The new believers face opposition from the enemy and from fellow villagers who do not know Jesus. 

They are also experiencing a lot of physical problems aside from the numerous eye diseases.

There are two nurses, Helen Clark and Naomi Swann, on the volunteer team this week. 

 

nurse

nurse

 

They are doing medical clinics alongside the eye surgery team. Hundreds of people are coming each day to get checked by the nurses.

There are hospitals and doctors in this region, but most people do not have the money to pay for medical help.

Normally, when people come to our team with non-eye related problems, there is nothing our eye surgery team can do for them.

Since there are nurses on our volunteer team this week, people can come and get free medical help.

Please pray for the volunteer team and the eye surgery team. It can be overwhelming to see so much need. 

 

village

 

God is doing a mighty work in this region and we are so excited that you get to be a big part of that. 

 

Lewis was able to do several Facebook Live videos this week in Togo. You don’t want to miss these!

Volunteer Team (Helen, Steve, and Naomi)

Medical Clinic

Interview with eye patient

New Believers

 

 

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