Key Text: Mark 10:46-52
I once was blind, but now I see… How has the gospel opened your eyes?
How has the gospel changed your life by revealing something in a new light?
The Bishop Ackon Memorial Christian Eye Centre, in Cape Coast, Ghana, has been restoring eye sight for 25 years (with support from USPG). Centre administrator Canon Kofi deGraft-Johnson writes:
Blindness is rife in Ghana, largely as a result of cataracts and glaucoma, but it is also reckoned to be preventable in as many as 80 per cent of cases.
Most incidents of blindness occur in rural areas where there are few health facilities.
Like Bartimeaus, those with blindness struggle to earn a living. They often become destitute, resort to begging and become ostracised in their communities. As with most issues of health, it is the poor who are worst affected because they are less able to afford healthcare or health insurance.
But there is hope. The Anglican Church in Ghana has been a pioneer in developing eye care. In Cape Coast, for example, a church-run centre is the only eye care specialist facility in the region. The centre – called the Bishop Ackon Memorial Christian Eye Centre – was established by the late John Ackon, formerly Bishop of Cape Coast. Sadly, Bishop John died two days before the official opening of the centre he was instrumental in setting up.
Since it was founded in 1987, the centre has seen a steady increase in patients. People are treated regardless of their ability to pay, with more than 15,000 patients seen between 2011 and 2013. In each case, people are given fresh hope – people who had come to feel useless are given a new lease of life.
In the following examples, two women recall how they underwent life-changing operations to remove cataracts; the operation is relatively simple and not expensive – but the impact is transformational.
Christiana Aba Tachie-Menson said: ‘The staff were very caring, doing everything to keep me calm and comfortable. My sight has improved tremendously. I am very grateful to the centre.’
Susanna Amar Agyeman reported: ‘I felt well cared for and that made me feel confident. My sight has much improved. I now have more confidence to move around unaided.’
Bartimaeus had become destitute and poor as a result of his blindness. Seen by many as an outcast, for a long time he had been begging to feed himself. But when he heard Jesus was passing by, he did not keep quiet – though others urged him not to speak out. His cries were heard.
They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.”
And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.”
So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.
Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.”
Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.”
Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
We are used to seeing the world from our own vantage point. How could our relationship with the world church help to change this? What steps could be taken to help you see life and global issues from a fresh perspective?
O God, you call the blind to see,
and in seeing, to follow in your way.
‘Help us to see you more clearly, love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly, day by day.’