Category: Mission Trips

Eyes For India COVID-19 Impact and Response

Eyes for India is the long-running It Is Written project restoring sight to the blind through cataract surgeries in India.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Jacob Prabhakar, Eyes for India ophthalmologist and medical director of Ruby Nelson Memorial Hospital in northern India, had to postpone planned Eyes for India surgeries and hospital services. We recently received a report from Dr. Prabhakar about the scope of the COVID-19 impact in his area and his team’s response to it.

Response to the Pandemic

“Eyes For India was progressing very well until March 21 when the pandemic set in, bringing all planned surgical activities to a standstill,” Dr. Prabhakar reports. “About 5,000 blind people who were scheduled and awaiting their turn for cataract surgery in various remote locations within India were disappointed that their dreams of getting their sight back through Eyes For India were delayed. We assured them that our services would resume once the pandemic settled down.”

Community response

Despite curtailed hospital services, the ministry of Eyes for India continued. Many migrant laborers in local villages were left without food and essential supplies during the lockdown. The Eyes For India team visited these villages and provided free food and essential items to about 50 families. It was such a joy to share the love of Jesus in this simple way.

Base hospital services re-opened 

Dr. Prabhakar and his hospital team worked diligently to reopen hospital services. He reports, “After ensuring all protocols for the safety of staff and patients were in place, the base hospital outpatient services began again on June 1 and surgical services started on June 14. The flow of patients at the base hospital has been steadily increasing.”

Screening centers

Due to safety protocols and staffing, the high-volume remote surgical eye camps of the past will not be possible for a few more months. Despite that setback, Dr. Prabhakar and his team have not stopped services altogether. 

Eyes For India has been operating satellite clinics and vision centers to conduct screening activities for future patients in seven strategic locations throughout the country. Services have been able to continue in three centers each week. It is expected that by September all seven of these satellite clinics will again become operational. Patients needing cataract surgeries will be registered in these clinics and will be given appointments for surgery. 

Surgeries resuming

Once surgeries recommence, Eyes for India will transfer about 10 to 15 of these registered patients each day to the base hospital for surgery. This will translate to about 75 surgeries performed per week and about 300 surgeries per month. This strategy will continue until regulations and infection rates allow for the resumption of our high-volume, on-location surgical camps. We are implementing the best practices to ensure the full safety of the staff, their families, and patients while attending to community needs. 

Even though the situation is unpredictable, we have scheduled our weekly surgical camps from September 13 onwards, hoping that the pandemic may settle down to a certain degree, allowing us to carry on our regular yearly schedule. It is our prayer that our services will resume full strength soon. 

Thank You 

While the current pandemic has changed things, Eyes for India is still moving forward. Dr. Prabhakar wants to personally share the following message to those of you who faithfully support this project: 

Thank you, dear donors, for your kindness and generosity that has literally transformed thousands of lives. Eyes For India is committed and strategies have been put in place to continue to serve people across needy communities amidst this changing scenario. The need for restoring sight to the masses continues to be great. 

I thank God for each of you. And with your kind help and support, we look forward to helping thousands who are desperately waiting for their sight to be restored. We are honored to share the precious gift of sight and share personally with them the love of Jesus. 

I remain truly grateful on behalf of thousands of blind who now see!

Jacob Prabhakar

It Is Written and Local Church Leaders Reopen Churches, Provide Community Services in India

After years in disrepair and closure, 53 churches in east central India have been reopened and spiritual, health, and social services have been initiated to keep them active with the help of It Is Written. In November 2018, It Is Written began an initiative with local church leaders to reopen 50 churches that had been closed due to lack of funding. The initial assessment was not encouraging. In addition to being without a pastor, the church yards were covered in garbage, windows were broken, and doors had rusted shut with no keys. Some churches were used to store tobacco or cotton while others were serving as shelters for beggars, sheep, and buffalo. Despite these discouraging odds, It Is Written representative Josephine Biegler, chose 53 churches to reopen. 

Local leadership team at one of the churches

To ensure the churches stayed open, new church leaders had to be trained and paid. Twenty-five Bible workers were selected and began training. They studied the life and teachings of Jesus; Bible doctrines; Daniel and Revelation; history of the church; world religions; health principle; the gift of prophecy; major and minor prophets; and the writings of Paul. Jack Phillips, It Is Written Bible Work Coordinator, traveled to India and conducted a special course on practical methods for giving Bible studies and reaching the local communities.

After thorough training, these Bible workers were placed in the villages to care for their two assigned churches. They cleaned each church, and professional repairmen made repairs and painted walls. Each church was given a new PA system, a culturally essential component to corporate worship. The Bible workers faced prejudice from community members because community members’ trust was damaged or broken when the church closed. 

Community health workers were hired to help the Bible workers overcome this prejudice. These ladies created a way for the Bible worker to enter the community with the gospel. Each worker was given training, a scale, stethoscope, blood pressure machine, and the book Where There is No Doctor in Telugu, the local language. The health workers check glucose and blood pressure levels, care for fevers, and bandage wounds. They taught about cleanliness and educated the villagers about the harmfulness of tobacco and alcohol. These women visited every home–Hindu, Muslims, and any other religion–praying for the suffering at the end of the visit. Some of the villagers accepted Christ because of the health workers’ invitations.

Newly opened churches began conducting night literacy classes in 26 of the churches. Eight adult literacy volunteers taught basic reading and writing along with Christian songs. They also prayed with the students and encouraged each to come back to the church on Sabbath. Through their efforts, people accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior through baptism. 

A United States sewing ministry partnered with the churches to offer sewing classes for local women. The ladies learned how to make garments, were given a brand-new sewing machine, and were invited to accept Christ as Savior. They left the class spiritually fed and with training to become financially independent. 

The health and social services were augmented with spiritual resources. Students from an Indian theology school conducted a three-day evangelism program in each of the 53 churches. Their program helped support the Bible workers in reaching the unreached and gathering the scattered members. These students visited the entire village, prayed with everyone they could, and invited the community to the meetings at the church. Later, another seven-day revival meeting occurred in 10 of the newly opened churches. These meetings were targeted to the local youth. They learned songs, Bible stories, and skits and left encouraged to be the strength of the new churches. Many young people gave their lives to Jesus Christ through these meetings. The younger children were not left out. Last summer, over 60 days, two college students conducted Vacation Bible School in 20 of the reopened churches. They worked with the village children, taught them new songs and Bible stories, and made crafts. Nearly 800 children participated. 

Earlier this year, the It Is Written Eyes for India program conducted a medical camp for 100 villages including the 53 villages with newly reopened churches. Medical physicians from the United States provided free medical expertise and partnered with local nursing students. Over 2,300 patients were treated, over 4,500 people were screened for cataracts, and 927 were selected for cataract surgery which began on February 24. 

During the month of February, two It Is Written mission teams traveled to India to hold revival meetings at 20 locations covering the 100 villages that also received medical care. Over the course of the month, approximately 4,500 people attended these meetings throughout the sites. God poured out His blessings, and 1,197 people accepted Jesus into their hearts.

And the work hasn’t stopped. Ongoing plans include quarterly meetings conducted by a local Indian evangelist to cover spiritual growth topics like the Sabbath, stewardship, continuous soul winning, children’s Sabbath school, and health. The churches continue to hold youth ministry events and widow prayer ministry activities. Every quarter, the church will also conduct an eight-day training for elders to equip them to serve the church and community. And 48 more churches have been selected for reopening and have already been cleaned. In May, the It Is Written Hope Awakens sermons were translated into seven Indian languages and livestreamed in Facebook to the entire local area. Thousands have seen the broadcasts.  

The infrastructure is established to ensure these churches stay open for many years to come and continue growing and serving their communities with the love of Jesus. The treasurer for the local church in India writes, “Thank you It Is Written for entrusting us with the resources we desperately needed to reopen churches….Thank you Ms. Josephine and the It Is Written team for everything, and we request that you continue to support the work we are determined to undertake here in India. God bless you all.”

This project was made possible through the support of It Is Written donors. To donate to future It Is Written mission and humanitarian projects, click here and select “It Is Written Missions.”

Bible workers and community health workers

Eyes for India camp

Closed to Travel, Open to Christ

Europe was closing to international travel just as our team of volunteers arrived in Siberia. Some had to return home immediately, but those who could, stayed, and God multiplied their efforts. The small group divided themselves between three cities: Omsk, Novosibirsk, and Ulan Ude. They held three evangelistic meetings and three medical clinics. 

Pastor Armen, a local pastor, shared this report about our team’s time in Novosibirsk: 

From March 14 to 20, in Novosibirsk, on the right bank, the It Is Written volunteers held a comprehensive wellness program. In the morning, for four hours before lunch, they took blood pressures, measured blood sugar, and took vitals. About 30 community members received consultations along with 15 church members. 

Doctor Ken Mindoro gave daily health lectures from a Biblical perspective. He covered eight principles of health and answered group and individual questions. He also spoke with each guest, answering questions about health and lifestyle changes. Each guest received a health book and diary, and every day before the lectures, instructors and organizers of the program prayed with the guests.

The time invested resulted in a huge blessing. As Dr. Ken said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” This isn’t his or his family’s first mission trip, but it was their first trip to Siberia. “My wife and I wanted to help people living in Siberia,” Dr. Ken shared. “We wanted to share principles for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and worship with Jesus together. Next year, if God pleases, we plan to come back to Siberia to serve people in new areas.”

One guest I’ll call Natalia left her address and said that she would like to be visited for prayer and further study. The local pastor and his wife arrived at her home and presented her with a book called Steps to Christ. They also prayed for her health, for the well-being of her family and grandchildren, and listened with interest to the story of her life and learned about her relationship with the Lord.

“Something attracted me to visit this program,” Natalia explained, “I was invited by my friend who politely and lovingly told me about the love of God. I felt a special atmosphere of kindness and light here.”

As a result, a trusting relationship was established, and Natalia and others like her came to find peace in Jesus’ love. The week ended with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper with the community and the baptism of five souls who joyfully joined the local church family. 

As of March 27, all the volunteers had safely returned home, thankful for the opportunity to fellowship and serve in Siberia. Due to the current travel restrictions and health concerns, several of the upcoming It Is Written mission trips have been postponed. To learn more visit our missions page.

 

Going Strong in Siberia

In spite of all the coronavirus frenzy back home, our Siberia mission trip volunteers are doing very well in Siberia. They are working in three large cities (Omsk, Novosibirsk, and Ulan Ude) where they are conducting health clinics during the day and Bible presentations at night.

The doctor in Novosibirsk, who also happens to be the preacher, summarizes his day as follows: “We are fully utilizing the clinic space to register our guests, perform a number of health screening tests (including a step test, blood pressure, and blood sugar screenings). After a prayer with the whole team, we sit down with our guests to discuss the health topic of the day. So far, we have discussed diabetes and epigenetics. Today, we will be discussing cancer screening and prevention. Following the group discussion, we set aside time for one-on-one consultations with the guests, during which we personally invite each and every one to our nightly meetings. Attendance at the nightly meetings is usually between 20-25 people. I am presenting both a health topic and the main sermon every evening. We continue to have new guests coming each night, and some have responded to appeals for baptism.”

Keep praying for our team in Siberia.  They are doing an impressive work for the Lord.

It Is Written Missions: Belize Update

In late February, 27 students and teachers from Jefferson Christian Academy in Jefferson, Texas left for the country of Belize on their first It Is Written mission trip. They didn’t know what to expect, but they were excited. From freshman to seniors, the group was ready to work. And they worked hard. 

Belize is a small, lush Central American country squeezed between Mexico, Guatemala, and the Caribbean Sea. In February, the weather is beautiful: warm in the day and cool at night. The students were welcomed with open arms and quickly learned to love the local fare–beans and rice. 

The students made their two-week home at the La Loma Luz Hospital and set out to make friends for Jesus. Several of the students were assigned to build housing at the hospital–a project that has seen very gradual progress over the past three years. In just a few days, they made record progress. A mechanic and fellow student leader repaired several local vehicles, shared some of his trade tricks, and left some of his tools so that more repairs could be made. 

Pila, the academy’s boys dean and trip leader, knew this trip would be different. For the first time, the students were going to be preaching some of the three evangelistic meetings taking place in the evenings. Joined by the mission team choir and equipped with It Is Written media slides and notes, the students prepared to share what they believed in English and Spanish. 

One meeting took place in a tent across the street from a city park filled with young people, loud music, and alcohol. One night, as the students preached, a man approached Pila and asked him about Daniel 11. Pila could smell the alcohol on his breath as the man shared that he had been baptized 45 years before. Pila saw him the next night, listening from under a tree across the street. He prayed that hope was being planted in the man’s heart again. 

During the day, the student choir provided a Vacation Bible School program at a nearby grade school. The teachers took a needed break while the It Is Written mission team sang songs, played games, shared stories, and made friends. Nathan caught the eye of Erian, one of the grade school students. Just seven years old, Erian came from a broken home. When things were not going well at home, his mother would pack him a bag and send him out to the street until the police would pick him up.

Nathan and Erian soon became inseparable. At the end of the two weeks in Belize, the team planned an outing to tube some caves and do zip lining. Nathan couldn’t leave Erian behind. He decided to let his friends go on without him, and he spent the day with Erian. As Nathan left for the airport the next day, Erian hung on for dear life. He didn’t want his new friend to leave. 

As the team left, students gave up purchasing memorabilia from their trip. Instead, they saved the money to buy their new friends in Belize gifts like crayons and colored paper. Nathan said he wanted to save the $45 a year it will cost to keep Erian in Christian school. 

Back home, the academy students asked Pila if they could go across the street and spend time with the grade school children here. They realized how a little attention and a smile could make a huge difference in a child’s life. 

“We will definitely do an It Is Written mission trip again,” Pila promised. “Everything went so well. It was such a blessing to be on this trip. I asked the students to raise their hand if they enjoyed the trip. Everyone’s hands went up and they told me, ‘We went to teach but they taught us. We didn’t just enjoy it, we were blessed!’”

It Is Written hosts mission trips around the world every year. Learn more at itiswritten.com/missiontrips

To God Be the Glory–Always

It Is Written’s mission trip to Ethiopia is now in the rearview mirror. Our faithful volunteers are making their way home with lots of photos, memories, a greater appreciation for the simple things of life we take for granted at home, and a renewed passion for the Lord and His mission to save humanity. It was indeed a wonderful and life-changing journey.

Yves Monnier, left, and his translator, Oromo, right, introduce the sermon.

The grand finale of our two-week mission trip took place this past Saturday. That’s when we had an amazing worship service with well over 2,000 people in attendance. Wow! One of my fellow pastors, who had learned quite a bit of the language (Oromo), decided to be my translator for the introduction (we had scripted what I was going to say ahead of time). You should have seen the people smiling and laughing in appreciation. At the end of my sermon I made an altar call. At first very few moved and then the congregation spontaneously started singing. A God-moment, because that’s when people started streaming down. Just amazing. 

Hundreds gathered on the shores of Lake Langano for the baptisms.

As soon as the worship service was completed, the It Is Written team was whisked away to the shores of Lake Langano where hundreds of people had gathered to be baptized. On this day, this picturesque lake surrounded by rolling hills became a giant baptistery. Our pastors joined the local pastors to baptize 440 precious souls. The age of those baptized ranged from children to a one-hundred-year-old lady–a reminder that it’s never too late to make Jesus first in your life. The smiles of all the people coming out of the water said it all. 

When good things are happening, the devil always seems to show up. And he did at one of our nightly preaching sites, the largest preaching site. There was significant political unrest in that city (not caused by our meetings). The military were called in, the internet was shut down in the entire country, and our nightly meetings had to be canceled for safety reasons. Thanks be to God that no one was harmed and our dear pastor was able to get out without problems. However, the very large baptismal service planned for that area had to be postponed. 

The pastors line up with their new It Is Written jackets.

On Saturday evening the It Is Written volunteers and the local leaders and pastors had one last meeting together. This was a time to thank our hosts and, above all, praise our Almighty God. During the meeting we gave all the Ethiopian pastors a jacket with the It Is Written logo. This is not something we usually do, but we did in this case for a very particular reason. When I came to Ethiopia in January to plan and organize the mission trip, I quickly realized how poor the people here are. What drove this point home with me was when I saw one of our dear pastors whose only jacket was a hand-me-down with the logo of a cigarette maker. What?! That’s when I determined that he and the other pastors needed It Is Written jackets. The ear-to-ear grins of these guys wearing their new jackets was priceless.

To God be the glory for another successful mission trip. By the way, we’ve got a great line-up of mission trips in 2020. Join us on one of them and experience God in a most powerful way. 

Click to read the first report of the Ethiopia mission trip.

Click to read the second update from the Ethiopia mission trip.

Lives Changed in Ethiopia: Ours

This mission trip to Ethiopia has been a difficult one for those of us dependent on things considered luxuries here: electricity, running water, WiFi, traffic rules, etc. Well, you get the picture. Electricity comes and goes. There’s been mornings that we wake up to no running water. Great! And the WiFi… what can I say? It works smoothly for a while, and then suddenly, with no warning, it’s gone just as I’m about to send an important email. The roads are like the wild, wild west. And guess who wins? The donkeys. I’ve never seen so many donkeys in my life. In spite of all these challenges, albeit small ones when I’m reminded of the hard lives people endure here, this has been a most rewarding trip for everyone. 

Some of the team’s medical professionals gather during a busy day of work.

Two thirds of our team of 30 are health professionals. We have doctors representing diverse specialties (general surgery, plastic surgery, ophthalmology, OB/GYN, anesthesiology, pulmonology, ENT), dentists, a nurse practitioner, a PT, a doctor of public health, nurses, and wonderful support staff. They’ve been working tirelessly and seamlessly to meet the huge health demands of the Negele Arsi region. One thing that’s been so frustrating to our doctors is that so many of the cases that would be very treatable in the United States are not here because of lack of equipment and medication. As an example, one of the patients they saw was a man with a disfiguring growth on his jaw (due to chewing tobacco). After multiple surgeries and the right treatment this man could have a chance at a normal life. Not here. This thing will kill him. And he’s in his 20s. It’s a heartbreak to face these kinds of situations.

A newborn baby girl is admired by her parents and the doctor who saved her life.

On the other hand, our people are having a profound impact on so many people. One of our OB/GYNs stumbled upon a woman in labor. Things were not going well. He quickly assessed her situation and determined that the baby was in distress because something was wrong with the umbilical cord. He ordered the woman to be rushed to the OR for an immediate C-section. A little while later, a healthy and screaming little girl was born. Sure enough, the umbilical cord was in a knot and was tightening with every minute passing. Had they waited any longer the baby would have been stillborn. By God’s grace and mercy, our dear doctor saved the little girl’s life. You can imagine how thankful and joyful the parents were at the turn of events. They came so close to mourning a death instead of celebrating a new life.

Eye surgery patients wait to be seen by Dr. Jacob, who typically works in India.

There are countless stirring stories like this one. Some of the best come from Dr. Jacob Prabhakar’s (Eyes for India) 1,028 cataract surgeries. He returned this week for a quick follow-up visit on all his patients. Imagine hundreds of patients in line to see him. An amazing sight. The best part of the sight is the fact that they have sight. These people were literally jumping with joy because they could see again. Every consult was accompanied by lots of embraces and smiles. The most astounding thing about it is that all 1,028 surgeries were a complete success. Praise be to God.

Meanwhile, the preachers at our six sites are doing a phenomenal job. In our schedule, they were supposed to have Thursday nights off. Do you think that’s what is happening? Absolutely not! People want to hear the Word, and our preachers are like the Energizer bunny. In health and sickness (yes, we’ve had some sickness), they preach their hearts out. I sit in the back and am so blessed to hear their heartfelt messages. I was there when one of our preachers made an altar call. Stumbling from outside the church came forward a man. He heard the sermon outside because at most sites they not only have speakers inside the church but outside as well so that anyone within 300 yards can clearly hear the presentations. This Muslim man heard it all and came forward. Wow.

It’s the rainy season here in Ethiopia and that means it rains every day. Just when you think it’s going to be a beautiful sunny day with no rain, the rain comes. This muddies up the roads and makes movement very difficult. However, people keep coming. I preached one night at a site where people were under a large canopy and the stage was 30 feet away (also under a canopy) separated by open air (don’t ask me why it was done like that). Anyway, when I was preaching, there was a sheet of rain separating the people from me. No problem. They were there, and I preached away. 

One thing I’ve noticed is that when our preachers are done, the meeting is not quite over. The pastor or lead person stands up, and then here we go for another mini-sermon with a passionate appeal for a decision. Even though I don’t understand a word he says, I know exactly what he’s saying, and people are responding. Last night at least 25 people came forward at the little church I was visiting. God is good. 

I’ve been told that this coming weekend about 600 people will be baptized. 600! Amazing. Although I wish we could take credit for these souls, the credit goes all to Jesus and the faithful brothers and sisters who have been working in their community. God blesses where people witness. These baptisms will take place on the shore of picturesque Lake Langano. It’s going to be wonderful. Our cameras are ready.

Saved lives and saved souls. Yes, this has been a great mission trip. And, without a question the lives most changed have been ours, the missionaries.

Click here to read the first report from the Ethiopia mission trip.

Click to read the third and final update from the Ethiopia mission trip.

One Step at a Time

On June 9th, I was on my way to Peru from the Atlanta airport. I had butterflies in my stomach, my thoughts were running rampant, and my heart was skipping beats. Not because I was on a plane, not because I was leaving the comfort of my home, but because I had a big responsibility to It Is Written and to the local people in Peru. 

Let me backtrack a little. I have been doing the logistics, behind the scenes, for several mission trips now. Handling things behind my computer is comfortable, but being in the mission field? Well, that is an entirely different story. You see I have never been on a mission trip before, and now I have been given the task to lead a group of 25 people in a foreign country. I did not know what to expect. But I did know Yves Monnier, It Is Written’s evangelism director and my supervisor, expected a lot from me. Rightly so; this was huge! 

When we landed in Peru, we were all exhausted but that quickly vanished due to the overwhelming love shown by the local pastors, our volunteer translators, and the local church school. Wow! We were not expecting that. From that day on, I knew God was going to be right by my side the entire time. No more butterflies, my thoughts were calmed, and my heart went back to beating regularly. God is good.

The group received a warm welcome at the airport from church pastors and the local church school.

No time to waste. After our warm welcome, we were transported by the pastors to our hotel, El Portal del Marques, and while everyone was getting their room keys and settling into their rooms, I was being pulled right and left, a question here, a problem there. Whoa! Typically, when I am working on a mission trip back home from the comfort of my computer, once the leader of a mission trip leaves for the country, most of my work is done. That was not the case this time around. Decisions needed to be made, and everything was up to me. No more turning to Yves for direction. This was completely new and foreign to me, but I knew I was ready. “One step at a time,” I thought to myself. Decisions were made and plans organized—finally, bed. 

The first clinic in Cajamarca, Peru.

The next morning, Friday, we got ready, bright and early, and were excited about our first day doing the medical clinic. After months of planning this mission trip, I was about to see my work in action for the first time. So many emotions ran through me at that moment. Upon arriving to our first site, one of the small plazas in the city of Cajamarca, more decisions needed to be made. Again, one at a time, I was able to get through them, but not alone. God was right by my side, and so was my team. I can’t express my gratitude enough to all the wonderful team members I had the pleasure of working with. As a team, we decided where triage was going to be placed. We then assigned the doctors, which included a local dental surgeon, to individual stations. Afterwards we set up the last two stations: one for our pharmacy and the other for eyeglasses. We gave close to 700 pairs of glasses away for free. Praise the Lord!

Although it was winter in Peru, during the day it was extremely hot. That didn’t stop the line from growing. We saw nearly 200 people that day. We were able to help people of all ages, from small issues to severe ones. 

Suranny, right, and Ines, left, saw many patients at the clinic.

Suranny Sarria, our nurse practitioner, shares her testimony. “It was the first day of the clinic, and I was with a patient when I heard one of the pastors scream ‘We need help now, someone just fainted!’ I immediately dropped my clipboard and ran to him. When I arrived, the patient was awake and alert, but she was still very pale and weak. I brought her to my station and checked her vital signs and asked her questions about her food and water intake. She said she had a small breakfast. I asked her about her family, and she told me she had been married for two years, since age 18. I don’t know what prompted me to ask her, ‘Does he treat you well?’ ‘No,’ she answered. I followed with more questions, ‘Is he abusive? Does he hit you?’ All to which the answer was ‘Yes.’ She was being abused emotionally, physically, and sexually. I asked her if she could go to her parents; unfortunately they both had passed away. At that time, I stepped away and spoke with Ines Requejo, a local nurse and wife of the campaign coordinator. I told her we needed to report this to the authorities. I went back to the young lady and before calling the authorities, I asked her if she wanted to report this. She agreed; Praise the Lord! Ines took the woman to the authorities where she was able to report the abuse and get counseling and therapy. Before she left, we gave her food, water, and multivitamins. I prayed for her and we cried together. I told her that if I didn’t see her here on Earth again, I would see her in Heaven. I also told her how much God loves her and that she deserves so much better.”

Before we knew it, it was five o’clock. The whole team was exhausted, but our hearts were touched by the many individuals who trusted us enough to let us help them. 

Brian, left, and Maria, right, speak and translate at their assigned church.

On Sabbath morning, we had 12 speakers assigned to 12 different churches. Praise the Lord for the hard-working pastors and translators who were also there day and night helping the team. I was assigned to Sabogal Central B with speaker Brian Kretschmar. This was his first time preaching and my first time translating an evangelistic series. A first for both of us. As I was sitting up on the platform waiting for our time, I began to feel butterflies in my stomach and my legs started to feel shaky. As the congregation sang, I began to pray. I heard Brian’s name announced, and we both stood. Immediately, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. Just like that, they were gone! No butterflies, no trembling, nothing but calmness. God is good.

Everyday had its challenges, but with lots of prayer we were able to get through them. Dr. Mark Murray experienced a challenge with getting medicine. “Each morning,” he said, “I was taken by the pastor to the wholesale pharmacy to purchase medications that had been depleted from our inventory. One morning, we showed up, and the pharmacy was closed. We learned that the government had shut them down due to some rules infractions. The pastor got on the phone with the owner of the pharmacy and asked if he would help us. Soon enough someone appeared at this metal door and opened it for us. We walked down a dark alley to the back of the pharmacy. Thankfully, he did business with us, and we were able to continue operating the clinic.”

Day after day, our team, although exhausted, was always ready for another hard day’s work. Medical in the morning and preaching at night. At every site we went, a big line awaited us. Some people would arrive as early as 4:00 a.m. The need is great in Peru, and we were so thankful that the Lord brought each of us there to help his children. 

Tina Arnall, one of our nurses, told her testimony. “We brought many supplies to treat the people who came to our clinic. However, we had so many people that came to be seen, that we were very limited in the amount of medicines we could give each person. I think we saw around 1,800 while we were in Cajamarca. It dawned on me that we couldn’t rely on the medicines and treatments we had brought with us; we must rely totally on Christ for the real healing. It was so beautiful to see the doctors praying with the patients.

Tina, right, cleans a man’s diabetic ulcers.

One man I prayed with came with four diabetic ulcers on his ankles. He had evidently been managing them for 25 years. I was impressed they weren’t deeper than they were and had no odor. With there being such a short time for treatment, I prayed a heartfelt prayer for guidance. I felt a peace over me as I cleaned the wounds and lightly removed damaged tissue. I felt a deep thrill as I thought of Christ washing His disciple’s feet and the opportunity I was given to do this for Christ in ‘one of the least of these my brethren.’ I put charcoal in some ointment, applied a dressing, and did some teaching with him and his family. He came back a few days later, and new tissue growth could be seen. I praised God, and we prayed some more together. In the clinic, I found myself teaching lifestyle medicine because it could really make a difference when our little bit of medicine ran out. One man had a very high blood glucose level. Our medicines had disappeared that day, so Dr. Murray had gone to buy more. I had nothing physical to give the man, so I taught him the principles of reversing diabetes as I had learned from Wes Youngberg’s Diabetes Undone seminar. I had him out walking. It was so sad to send people away in the evening. Made me think of the many that thronged Christ for healing. Certainly I’m learning how true it is that the medical missionary work is the right hand of the gospel!”

Pastor Jeremy gives El Camino a Cristo (Steps to Christ) books to inmates at the prison.

We had one more day of clinic, but this one was going to take place inside of a penitentiary. Being inside a foreign prison was a first for almost all of us. We didn’t know what to expect, but we were all ready to help each individual. The process to enter was long but for good reason: They wanted to make sure the same people that went in, came out. We were all thankful for that. One hundred and fifty prisoners later, both men and women, we were done. Each one of them showed gratefulness for our presence. They each received a El Camino a Cristo (Steps to Christ) book, and they all accepted it with a smile. 

Our last Sabbath in Cajamarca came too soon. It was a bittersweet day–our last Sabbath with our churches, our new families. I will never forget these members who welcomed us with their whole hearts. I’m sure I can speak for the whole group when I say they will all hold a special place in our hearts. We had several baptisms that Sabbath afternoon from all 12 of our locations. Praise the Lord! 

Jeremy Arnall, pastor of the Greeneville Church, explains what happened with the baptisms that morning. “As we approached the end of our evangelistic campaign at the Cajamarca Central church, the pastor and I, along with my translator, went visiting with some of the interests. Several appeals were made throughout the week with a few coming forward each night so that on Sabbath morning before the first service, we were anticipating seven baptisms. As we finished first service, we had two baptisms and then had Sabbath school. As I finished preaching the message at second service, I began an appeal for individuals to come forward for baptism. A few came forward, and then I announced I needed to go get dressed for the baptism. We had planned five to be baptized at second service. I quickly got ready as the pastor stepped in for me and continued the appeal from the front. Finally, due to the length of his appeal, I came around outside and looked into the window to see what was happening in the sanctuary. I was so inspired to see several more who had come forward. We ended up baptizing 12 at second service, and then, as I was getting dried off and ready to go, I was told one more had come forward for baptism. Most of the congregation was now gone, but I quickly put the pastors waders back on. The few remaining members gathered about as we baptized the fifteenth precious soul that morning. I was inspired by the enthusiasm and energy that the Peruvian people bring to evangelism and their work at building the kingdom of God.”

What an experience! What a blessing! I will never forget my first mission trip, the team, the pastors, the translators, the hotel staff, the sweet smiles on the kids, and the members from Sabogal Central B church. With God’s help, our mission trip was successful, one step at a time. 

A Message of Hope for Ethiopia

It Is Written’s mission trip to Ethiopia is happening right now in the Negele Arsi area. We have 28 volunteers present with three more expected this weekend. The volunteers are split into two teams. One team works at the general hospital in Negele Arsi and the other conducts Bible presentations every evening at six different sites with hundreds of people in attendance. 

This amazing mission trip is the brainchild of Dr. Gohalem Felema, a pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist. Even though Dr. Felema practices in Jacksonville, Florida, she originally hails from Ethiopia and thus has a big burden for her people. A few years ago she approached It Is Written about doing a mission trip, but things didn’t quite line up. She didn’t give up until finally here we are in 2019. 

Ethiopia is a colorful country with breathtaking scenery. However, the most striking aspect of Ethiopia is the people. They are warm and kind but also very poor. I mean very poor. They survive through subsistence farming and commonly get around in carts pulled by donkeys or horses. The roads are a cacophony of pedestrians, trucks, three-wheeled vehicles called bajaj, buses, horse/donkey-drawn carts, and animals of all sizes that wander on the road with not a care in the world. Our driver has to slalom around all of that to get to our destination. Quite an adventure.

The needs of this country are great, especially health-wise and spiritually. Thus, our trip is facilitating something people desperately need. Under the careful care of Dr. Felema, doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, physical therapists, health educators, and support staff are busy working at the hospital. Two of our doctors have already done several interesting surgeries. Meanwhile, eight of our other volunteers open God’s word every night and preach the everlasting gospel. People walk to the meetings and are blessed to be given a message of hope. Many of these people are planning to be baptized.

It’s the rainy season right now in Ethiopia. Rain is something this drought-prone country desperately needs. As you can imagine, however, rain can negatively impact the attendance at our nightly meetings. So, we’ve been praying as a group for rain except during our meeting times. And that’s exactly what’s been happening: Rain except during our evening meetings. As a matter of fact, at one of our outdoor meetings the rain did not start until the preacher had said “amen.”

I should also mention that as part of our mission project in Ethiopia, Dr. Jacob Prabhakar, the Eyes for India ophthalmologist, spent a week here with his team earlier this month. He did 1,028 cataract surgeries in a span of five days. One of those surgeries was particularly moving. Dr. Jacob operated on a nine-year-old girl who was born with congenital cataracts and had never seen her parents. Dr. Jacob described with emotion the moment she saw her parents for the first time. Powerful.

Please keep the It Is Written team in your prayers. The final day of the mission trip is July 20. We have another week to go. May God use us in a powerful way to draw people to Him.

Click to read the second update from the Ethiopia mission trip.

Click to read the third and final report from the Ethiopia mission trip.

He Still Shows Up

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to step back in time? Perhaps you jet back 2,000 years and find yourself in a Jewish village hamlet of Jesus’ day? When He showed up in town, the quietness was broken. The desperate poor rose from their squalor. They pressed into His presence for the healing they could secure in no other way. Would you fear to feel the press of that desperate crowd, each anxious he might miss the hoped-for healing?

A time machine is not required to be launched into a similar time and place. In January, I found myself in the unfolding light of dawn in the Indian region of Uttar Pradesh. As shadowy figures took form around me, I knew I was seeing what Jesus saw and feeling what He must have felt. I wished He was here to touch the lives that flowed passed.

Grandfather, father, and son make their way to the camp to receive eye surgeries.

Three men move quickly through the morning mist. One weather-beaten, one middle-aged, and the last a lad of only 10. Opaque eyes tell of his darkness since young. In the cataract belt of India, it is too frequent that young children are born with or develop cataracts at an early age. The lad sweeps his head to and fro. Perhaps he’s listening to the murmuring world about him. Because the middle-aged man had cataract surgery in one eye already, he steers this train of three skillfully towards the clinic door where It Is Written is sponsoring an eye camp. Today all three men will be operated on. Grandfather will see for the first time in 10 years. Father will gain sight in his second eye. And our doctor hopes the young lad is not too late to recover some sight. No one knows if his brain will know how to see once the obstruction to light is removed. If only he had come sooner.

Two women eat before heading home from the eye camp.

Next to the Hindu temple a short distance away, I see another soul. I notice she’s bent low over a leaf-plate stitched together by thin twigs. The fingers of this frail woman scoop lentil mush into her hungry mouth. There are 200 others eating just as she is. They have all had eye surgery yesterday. When the sun rises higher, they will head home, excited about recovered sight. When the small heap of nourishment is gone, she folds this disposable plate, rises to throw it away, and washes her hands. Suddenly her slight frame stops when she unfolds to her waist. I inhale sharply. Osteoporosis has robbed her of height. Her entire world view is the earth beneath her feet. She is forever locked into this boomerang-shaped stance. If only the healer was here to cure more than just her sight.

A woman shuffles down the street. Osteoporosis prevents her from standing upright.

I turn to the sound of shuffling. I see a blind lady’s anxious feet sweep the unfamiliar road as she haltingly gropes her way to the clinic. I wonder how far she has come. Some I’ve spoken to have traveled a day and a half by train. The milling crowd parts to let this stumbling woman through. Hope is within reach. The sticker above her right eye indicates one blinding cataract will be removed. Tomorrow faltering feet will move with solid determination homeward.

A woman with cataracts receives assistances as she navigates through a crowd in Barabanki, India.

The crowd continues to flow past. How is it possible there are so many? Poverty has treated each cruelly. The want of proper food has left their eyes to suffer. The want of money has delayed them in seeking and securing a cure. But now they are finally here, each with hope for a better tomorrow. I have been told they arrive in waves of 400 plus each day. By the end of the 10 days scheduled for this camp, at least 4,000 will come seeking help and over 2,000 will receive their sight again. I wish Jesus was here.

A smile nudges my feeling of helplessness. Jesus is here. In the form of His friends, He has shown up in town today. Through the eye camps sponsored by It Is Written and the faithful work of Dr. Jacob Prabhakar and his team, the desperate poor can gain the healing they could secure in no other way. I’m not afraid to feel the press of this desperate crowd, each one anxious he might miss the hoped-for healing, because I know there is help beyond that clinic door. Through the hands of sacrificial donors, the surgeon, dedicated nurses, and numerous volunteers, Jesus is certainly here. There is hope for tomorrow.

Click here to learn more about Eyes for India.