To See is To Believe
This is a special report. I could not wait to share our story about God’s Eyes clinics in Medellín. Our friends Steve and Paulette Tuggle and Dan and Carol Neuschwanger from our English Speaking Church (recently renamed Grace Church) and who previously lived in Boquete, Panama had worked with God’s Eyes Chiriqui. They shared their experiences working with this wonderful mission that gives away free eye exams and eyeglasses to those who can’t afford them.
[God’s Eyes International is part of the Christian medical mission worldwide outreach effort. This effort includes thousands of organizations all over the world fulfilling the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20. These organizations bring much needed medical help to people who can’t afford care, while at the same time ministering to their spiritual needs. God’s Eyes Chiriqui organizes Christian medical mission trips in which their teams provide free eye exams and free prescription eyeglasses together with prayer, and sharing salvation through Jesus Christ. – Steve Tuggle]
Several months ago, we reached out to God’s Eyes Chiriqui to see if they could bring clinics into Colombia. Partnering with Iglesia Comunidad Cristiana de Adoracion, five clinics were set up and the plan was to give away 100 prescription glasses at each clinic.
Planning and Preparation
The first was held in Fredonia, two clinics were held in Tablaza, one at Vizcaya mall in Poblado and the last one at our home church ICR in Barrio Colombia. The great thing about having the clinic at our location was that we are just two blocks from the metro system that connects all areas of the city.
We reached out to Andrew’s small groups in Nueva Jerusalem, Pastor Wilson’s group, and Pastor Fredy’s groups in La Estrella. We easily filled the 100 spaces available and had to turn down many. [At one point, Michael told me he wasn’t sure he could fill the 100 people. His fears were almost immediately removed when over 150 people signed up! – ST]
We had many meetings preparing for the clinics. I worked one of the days in Tablaza to learn how it all works and yesterday I was put in charge of coordinating the clinic at our church. [Michael introduced his magician skills to entertain the children while they waited for their turn. It was incredibly effective – ST]
The night before, they informed me that we could add 20 more to make a total of 120. Bryan Kaiser, God’s Eyes founder, and international director from Atlanta came and stayed with us a few days as well as an optometrist, Ronald Wallie, who is from Ohio, but currently is residing with his family in Boquete, Panama. We had a lot of fun hosting and showing them around our city. We hope to partner with them again for future God’s Eyes clinics throughout Colombia.
So how it all works: Once a person is registered they are emailed and phoned the week before to confirm their appointment. They are placed in half-hour segments, for example, 8 people were scheduled to be seen between 8:00 and 8:30. If they miss their scheduled time, their appointment is canceled and walk-ins can fill their space. If they show up later they are treated as a walk-in.
We had 100 people registered by mid-December but after calling everyone to confirm the week before we had 10 cancellations. So Andrew contacted those who were not able to register originally due to space and filled those canceled positions. When I was notified the night before that we could add an additional 20 people, phone calls went out again.
When the people show up for their appointments they check in and are asked if they have any prayer needs. Almost everyone that came did. Then they wait for the first exam which is an eye chart exam. Next, they are taken into a darkened room and a machine quickly reads their prescription. Then the doctors manually check their prescription and modify it by using special equipment.
There are cases and cases of pre-cut lenses that are sorted by power strength. The frames are all the same. While the glasses are being made, they are sent to a waiting area to receive prayer, free Bibles and literature if wanted. [There is also an opportunity to share salvation. And all of the contact info is taken and given to the local church for follow-up – ST]
During one of these ministry opportunities, Jose Yepes decided to accept Christ and wanted to be baptized right away. Andrew filled the baptistry and baptized him in front of everyone at the clinic. Praise the Lord!
When the eyeglasses are completed their name is called and they try out their new glasses. You should see all the smiles! Natalia helped with that station and she said it was the best job in the clinic to be there when people are given sight!!
Sunglasses were also given to those that work outside. Some people just needed readers and they had plenty of Foster Grant readers that were given out.
End of the Day
The clinic was open from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm. About 3:30 pm I advised Andrew that we had space for about 10 more people before the clinic closed. He promptly went down into the streets and brought to the clinic mechanics who were working outside. Also two workers from the restaurant down below the church. They were all seen for a total of 120!
This reminds me of the parable of the great feast in Luke 14. Luke 14:15-24 New International Version (NIV)
The Parable of the Great Banquet
15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet, he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’
20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’
23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”
We closed up shop at 4:15 pm and began packing up supplies and equipment for their next clinic. We had 120 people go through the process for glasses. Not all could be helped but most were. I think God’s Eyes clinics are amazing and I want to help with future clinics throughout the world.
In closing, we just wanted to say THANK YOU to all the many volunteers who helped with the clinics. Without them, the clinics would not have been possible.
Quote of the month: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe