One of the things that I did during my time in Gabon was spend some time at Hope House. Hope House might be described by some as an orphanage, though I never heard Pastor Israel nor any of the kids ever use that word. If I were to use a word besides “home” I would probably choose “foster home”. Mainly because “home” is stretched when it is a word that describes a place for over fifty kids. But for the kids, it really is home. Pastor Israel isn’t hoping that others will adopt “his” kids…no, Pastor Israel merely wants to provide a safe place…a place where food, shelter, and love can be found in abundance. From what I saw there (and from numerous interviews with the kids there), I think he and his wife are doing an outstanding job.
While there, we made arrangements for Pastor Jacob to take some kids from Hope House down to Bongolo Hospital (a several hour ride) to have eye examinations and glasses. It probably doesn’t seem like a big thing, but to each of those kids it was an opportunity to see all that God intended them to see. As I thought of those kids going down to Bongolo this month to get glasses for the first time, I thought of my oldest daughter who also went to a doctor a long time ago.
It started out with an accident and an unexpected exclamation. Amy had inadvertently poked Rebekah in the eye and Rebekah blurted out, “Ouch” and then, “That was my good eye!” Amy of course did an immediate double-take and asked her what she meant by that. I think Rebekah was six at the time and although she was aware that one eye saw things a bit fuzzy, she didn’t seem to think that was abnormal. Certainly not enough to make us aware of it. After that incident, we did some experiments to see what she could or couldn’t see out of both eyes and then scheduled a doctor’s appointment as quick as we could.
The doctor’s appointment didn’t go well…Rebekah was virtually legally blind in the one eye and although the doctor was somewhat hopeful that patching and glasses could help…she also wasn’t very optimistic about any big improvements since she thought Rebekah was already a little too old. Hearing those words brought a measure of guilt that only a parent can know, but at the same time we decided we would do research and we would do whatever we could to help Rebekah see.
After a while we switched doctors, we found one who was much more optimistic about what could be done and who continued to work with Rebekah…it was a long process. And for a few years Rebekah wore a patch that no doubt wasn’t a lot of fun for her. But in the end, an eye that had at one time been on the verge of being “legally blind” got to be 20:40. A major improvement and an answer to much prayer and perseverance.
So as I received pictures from Pastor Jacob last week of the kids going down to Bongolo to get examined and fitted for glasses for the first time. I couldn’t help but think about Rebekah and the blessing that doctors and glasses can be. I also thought of Matthew 11:5 “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”
Jesus said it was those things that defined his ministry…that showed that he really was who he said he was. Today, as a result of what E4 is doing in Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo… the “blind” are receiving sight, the lame are walking, those who have the modern disease of leprosy (AIDS) are receiving treatment, the deaf will hopefully be getting a sign-language school soon, and many who would otherwise die from malnutrition or disease are being saved…and best of all, the good news is being proclaimed to the poor in word and deed. That’s the kind of impact that your gift can have…and knowing that is why I ask you to consider giving…so that the blind can receive sight, and the lame walk, but most of all so that the Good News is proclaimed loud and clear.