Tag: eyes for india

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

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.