By Extreme Nazarene Ministries on Jun 3, 2011
Everyone has different talents, abilities and gifts, and it is amazing how God can use these when we are willing to share.
Some time back, a gentleman from Gardner, Kansas, U.S., came to Iquitos, Peru, where Extreme Nazarene Ministries is involved in church planting and discipleship. While he was here, he shared his knowledge of conducting routine eye exams and making eyeglasses. He taught us -- members of the Iquitos and Pucallpa long-term mission teams -- how to do this simple eye test and make the glasses. This has been a very useful tool.
Here are a few of the many stories of how eye exams and glasses have been used in ministry.
What gift, talent or ability do you have that God could use for His glory?
Glasses for Felix
We made our way around to the houses near School 97093, commonly referred to as Escuela 93. We were armed with names and addresses of people who had come to a clinic that was conducted about three months earlier. It was our job to follow-up with these people to start a new church in the Yarinacocha area.
We came upon a young lady, Ruth, who is 20 years old. She had taken her daughter to the clinic. At first, because we knew her name and where she lived, she was suspicious of us. But when we explained we were following up from the clinic, she wanted to talk more and was very happy for our visit. In the course of the conversation, she asked if we could visit her father the following Saturday. We agreed to meet her at her house to accompany her to his house.
When we met again on Saturday, we all took a taxi over a very bumpy, dirt road to Felix’s house.
When we arrived, we met Ruth’s sister, who happens to also be named Ruth. She takes care of her father. Felix is 80 years old and bedridden. He fell a couple of years ago and broke his pelvis. He didn’t have the money to have surgery to fix it, so he has been bedfast since.
We waited outside for several minutes while the two women prepared their father for our visit. When we entered the room, Felix was lying in the bed. He is a small, frail man who looks more like 100 years old than 80. We began talking with him. He told us he is a Christian, but cannot read his Bible because he cannot see the words. He had glasses before, but one of his grandchildren played with them and broke them. So, we told him we would come back the next week with glasses for him. We left his house after a time of fellowship and prayer, with the promise to return the next week.
Back at home, I went to work on his new glasses. There are 12 different strengths of lenses in the kit, so I decided to make one of each so that we could test and give Felix a pair of glasses all in one day.
The following week when we set out for Felix’s house, we were armed with twelve pairs of glasses and the testing plates.
When we entered his room, we were surprised to find Felix sitting up and ready for a visit.
We soon realized that he didn’t have the strength to hold the testing plate, and it wasn’t working for us to hold it because he couldn’t keep his head straight either. So, since we had the different glasses made, we began to try the glasses with the Bible instead of the testing plates.
We tried several different strengths of glasses that were close to the one he thought was good. We went through them several times, until we found the one he thought was best. Once he tried the glasses and saw that he could read, he began to cry. He was so glad that he could read his Bible again.
Watching this process, his caretaker daughter, Ruth, said she was so glad he was getting glasses. She had been reading the Bible to him, but when she did, she had to hold the Bible far away to see it. So we asked her if she wanted to try some glasses. She asked if she could really have a pair. We said, “Of course. We want to help people.” So we tested her eyes and gave her a pair of glasses, too.
Now Felix can read his Bible again. He wasn’t able to see the really fine print (the commentary at the bottom of the page), but he could read the headings and verses. So when we left him, Felix was encouraged in the Lord and happy that he would be able to read his Bible once again.
Glasses for Lleny (Jenny)
Lleny is a mother of a very active 5-year-old, Miguel Angel. He was one of the first Sunday School attendees in Yarinacocha. One day, we were out inviting people to come to services. Lleny lived at the back of a wooden building that is up on short stilts. It has four rooms, with a different family in each room. There is a fence around the building, so we were not going to enter the fence. However, Lleny saw us out inviting people, so she came out and asked if everyone was invited. We told her yes, we would be glad to have her come! This began our relationship with Lleny.
Within two services, we were asking people if and when they wanted us to come to their house to give discipleship lessons. Lleny was one of the first to sign up. We began going to her house three or four times a week. Lleny finished all four books in about two months. However, when we were in the second book, Lleny told us that when she read a lot, she got headaches. She had to squint her eyes and hold the book or Bible far away to read it. We told her we could help with some reading glasses.
During our next visit, we tested Lleny for glasses. She was so excited. I didn’t have time right away to make the glasses; we weren’t planning to go back to her house for two or three days. So for the next few days, each time we passed her house, Lleny asked if we had her glasses. When we returned to her house in a few days, we came bearing the gift of sight. Lleny was so happy.
Lleny now sports her glasses at church, at home, and anywhere else she may need to read something. She says she doesn’t get headaches anymore when she reads, and she loves to read her Bible. She is memorizing scriptures and growing in the Spirit every day.
Nelly is the president’s wife … well, the president of Jhon Hocking Weeks, a small asentamiento humano (literally, human settlement) in the Pucallpa area. She was one of the first people we met in that neighborhood. She wanted to start discipleship lessons right away. She is a Christian, but wanted to be discipled so badly.
We started classes with Nelly on the next visit. It was evident early on that Nelly had trouble seeing the words. She would move the Bible and booklet at different angles while she was trying to read it. We told her on the next visit, we could test her for glasses.
We returned with the testing plates, and Nelly sat through the exam. Later we brought her new glasses. She was so happy to have them. Not only do they help her study her Bible, but she is able to better help her 7-year-old daughter with her homework.
-- Katie Anderson is a volunteer missionary, serving in the Extreme Nazarene Ministries 40/40 strategy, in which 40 Peruvian volunteers are partnered for two years with 40 non-Peruvian volunteers to plant churches in Peru. Anderson, who is originally from West Virginia, U.S., is serving in Pucallpa.
Talk about it
- Read and discuss Mark 8:22-25; Matthew 9:27-31; John 9:1-7.
- Think about all the things you read during a typical day, from road signs to recipes to e-mail. How would your life change if you had trouble reading?
- The eyeglasses ministry began when an opthalmologist brought his skills and expertise, along with some donated materials, to Peru. Was this a skill you ever imagined would be needed in a mission project?
- What are some skills you have which God could use to serve people in your community, or in a mission project?
- How are glasses making a difference in the lives of these believers?
- In this article, how are these volunteer missionaries meeting the people mentioned? What does this suggest about how believers can "go out into the world?"
- When you next put on a pair of glasses or contact lenses, read a good book or drive, use that opportunity to pray for these new believers in Peru who are seeing their world in a whole new way.