Read this wonder story by Harry and Echo Vanderwal as to how the eyeglasses ministry has helped the people of Swaziland.
“Once I was blind, but now I see…”
This line from John Newton's old, beloved hymn fits what is happening in Swaziland, Africa. Scales are falling off people's eyes so they can see Jesus Christ, even while their physical eyes are been opened with a proper pair of eyeglasses.
The Luke Commission in Swaziland, Africa, fitted eyeglasses on 7,900 needy people free of charge from January through May, 2008.
Stories abound about the joy and gratitude expressed by Swazis, many of whom had not seen correctly for years, even decades.
“I can see a bee pass by,” said one delighted elderly gentleman.
“I can sew again for my family,” she a mother. “I have not been able to thread a needle for 10 years.”
“See those cows way over on that mountain?” asked another man. “I didn't know they were there before.”
“Now I can see what me teacher writes on the board,” laughed a 10-year-old boy.
We appreciate the part Kendall Optometry Ministry has played in the vision care of the Swazis. Our team members have been educated and coached by Holland Kendall. We are thankful for his expertise and for loaning the autorefractor - and eventually - setting us up with our own autorefractor.
The Luke Commission, founded by Dr. Harry and Echo, certified physician's assistant, takes compassionate medicine to southern African countries. Currently, the VanderWals organize mobile medical clinics out in the bush of Swaziland where people have little or not health care.
Each mobile clinic has four departments: medical treatment with free medications, eyesight diagnoses with fitted eyeglasses, HIV-AIDS testing plus counseling, the showing of a Jesus movie with an invitation to receive Christ, and distribution of SiSwati or English Bibles to new believers.
At the 55 clinics in 2008, over 25,200 medical and HIV patients were treated and given more than 190,000 packets of medicine; 10,300 Swazis were given free eyeglasses after having their eyes tested; 5,700 accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior; and 5,200 new believers received Bibles. The Bible has only been translated in the SiSwati language since 1996.
During some clinics and on days The Luke Commission team is restocking and repacking in Manzini, one of the two large cities in Swaziland, orphans, newborn babies, and sick children are visited and given new outfits and shoes. A total of 11,200 children and mothers have received clothing in recent months.
Swazi chiefs and community coordinators are requesting The Luke Commission come to their areas with a free mobile clinic, and everyone specifically asks for the eyeglass department. Often the lines forming for testing and eyeglasses are as long as those waiting for medical treatment.
“People ask specifically for the eyeglasses,” Echo VanderWal. “A big cheer goes up when those carts with an inventory of 3,500 glasses are rolled off our trailers.”
Swazis walk several kilometers hoping to get glasses. Two elderly women limped on their walking sticks for 40 kilometers over a period of two days, because they heard PersonNameThe Luke Commission was coming. They were so excited wearing their new eyeglasses that they danced and sang and thanked everyone.
Two sisters, ages 13 and 11, had never seen well. Their mother had no money for vision care. One girl needed a 13-plus pair of eyeglasses and the other needed 11 power. God orchestrated it so that both pairs of eyeglasses were in The Luke Commission inventory to be placed on those young girls' faces. Shy smiles told their thankfulness.
Those needing cataract surgeries also are identified at The Luke Commission mobile clinics. More than 80 Swazis have had cataracts removed free this year in partnership with Dr. Jonathan Pons, Lions International, and Christian Blind Mission.
Thanks so much to Holland Kendall for his tender, loving care of those who cannot afford eyesight. What a great picture of the free gift of salvation!
Harry and Echo Vanderwal 1/23/2009