To See is To Believe
By Michael Thayer
This is a special report. I could not wait to share our story about God’s Eyes clinics in Medellín. 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.
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 Comes To Medellin
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.
Several months ago, we reached out to God’s Eyes Chiriqui to see if they could bring clinics into Colombia. We partnered with Iglesia Comunidad Cristiana de Adoracion, and we scheduled five clinics to give away 100 prescription glasses at each clinic in accordance with the plan.
Planning and Preparation
The first was to be held in Fredonia, two clinics were scheduled 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 quickly filled the 100 spaces available and we had to turn down many. [At one point, Michael told me he wasn’t sure he could fill the 100 people. His fears were immediately removed when over 150 people signed up! – ST]
Preparing for the clinics was hard work. Team members attended many required meetings for training purposes. I worked one of the days in Tablaza to learn how it all works and yesterday the organizers assigned me to coordinate 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]
So here is how it all works:
- Once a person registers, the mission team sends an email and contacts the person by phone the week before to confirm their appointment.
- The appointments 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.
When the people show up for their appointments and check-in a member of the team asks if they have any prayer needs. Almost everyone that came did. Then they wait for the first exam which is an eye chart exam. The next station is extremely important and requires a very dark room. Sometimes this is a real challenge, especially in gymnasiums. The team brings a special and expensive machine that is crucial in making the correct prescription. Then the doctors manually check their prescription and modify it by using special equipment.
The Lord gives 30 people a surprise gift
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. Also, another optometrist, Ronald Wallie, who is from Ohio, had just joined the God’s Eyes Chiriqui team. He and his family (9 children!) recently moved to Boquete. He also stayed with us. We had a lot of fun hosting and showing them around our city, and our hope is to partner with them again for future God’s Eyes clinics throughout Colombia.
100 people registered by mid-December. 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.
There are cases and cases of pre-cut lenses sorted by power strength. The frames are all the same. Team members make the glasses according to the prescription, while the patients receive prayer, free Bibles and literature if wanted. [Christian medical mission trips are always designed to meet the needs – both physical and spiritual of “unreached people groups”. This is what the Great Commission is all about. – ST]
During one of these ministry opportunities, Jose Yepes accepted Christ as his Savior and wanted to be baptized right away. Andrew filled the baptistry and baptized him in front of everyone at the clinic. Praise the Lord!
The people receive their new glasses
When the eyeglasses are completed, a member of the distribution team calls the patient’s name to come to try out their new glasses. You should see all the smiles! Natalia worked in that station. She said “That was the best job in the clinic to be there when people are given sight!!
Those patients who work outside also received very cool-looking sunglasses. Some people just needed readers and there were plenty of Foster Grant readers available for them.
Bible Application for Christian Medical Mission Trips
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.’”Luke 14. Luke 14:15-24 New International Version (NIV)
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!
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