Light to the blind

New opportunities!

IMG_1760

We are encouraged by the opportunities that have been presented to us in the last months. In December the first meeting among the blind was held in Tirana to preach the gospel around the Christmas period. Many came and heard the good news of Jesus Christ. In fact there were so many people present that it was hard to be heard! Since then two separate groups have been established by Thomas Fleming, a member of the board, with an average attendance between 20 and 30 people. Please pray that God will work in the hearts and lives of those who are coming to these meetings and pray that more workers might come forward to help in this work. There are more than 11,000 people in Tirana who are blind or partially sighted so pray that we might reach more and more people from this community.

After Easter a meeting was held with blind people from the Durres area. A pastor from Tirana who is partially sighted spoke to those who gathered followed by Thomas Fleming who preached on the meaning of Christ’s resurrection. A team of volunteers then served a special lunch and Will Niven was able to give a closing word to the meeting. We have been asked to form a meeting in Durres by a number of the blind people there. Pray that we might find the right church to work with and that we might see fruit from this work.

Introducing “Light to the blind”

Have you ever heard the expression, “the blind leading the blind?” The purpose of the “Light for the blind” foundation is that blind believers might lead those who are blind, both physically and spiritually, to the light of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Since the inception of the foundation progress has been very slow but we would like to share with you what has been achieved by God’s help and what we would like to see happen in the future.

Blind leading the Blind

The blind leading the blind!

 

What has been achieved?

Erseka Camp for the blind and partially sighted: The camp held in Erseka each year is directed by a blind believer, Niko Hamzallari, and continues to bring many unbelievers under the sound of the gospel. We look to the Lord for Him to bring them under the controlling influence of His Spirit and bringing them to salvation in Christ. We have tried to help finance this camp each year as those who participate are not really able to afford the extra costs. We have the speaker arranged now for the camp planned for August 8-13th this year so please pray that God would use this camp for the salvation of souls ad strengthening of believers!

SAM_2974

The blind camp two years ago

Local meetings: The main focus of the work amongst the blind is in meetings for blind people in local churches. We give thanks for the regular meetings still continuing in Elbasan, Korça, and Erseka. We rejoice in the fact that an average of 20 blind people plus around 10 guides are coming to the church in Korçë and coming under the sound of the Word. Even in snow most of the group are coming out to meetings! We have had the opportunity to go and speak to this group (a 4.5 hour drive each way) on a couple of occasions. It was encouraging to see the number of people there as well as what appeared to be a group that listened well. An open invitation has been given for us to return and to teach again.

In Elbasan the work is at a crossroads due to the merger of the church hosting the blind meetings with another church in town. The Fier group has been unable to meet but is planning to start in the near future. Please pray for the impact of the Korçë group and for Arjan Kacimbro who leads it. Pray for the future of the Elbasan work and that the merger of these churches will not disrupt or weaken it. Pray that the Fier group will start soon and that a group can begin in Tirana.

White canes: We initially had a gift of around 120 canes which came in pieces and needed making up. Most of these have been distributed. This was a major step forward in helping blind people to have a little bit more independence. Geoff was in Canada towards the end of last year and was able to go to the factory where they manufacture the Carbon Fibre canes, they are stronger than the Aluminium ones. From donations received and channelled through AEM I was able to purchase another 80 canes as well as extra heavy duty tips.

Blind canes  1st donation

First delivery of canes!

The director of AMBUTECH gave a very good discount off the total amount even so these still amounted to $2,200.This was only possible because of donations that we already had received so we are so thankful for those who have contributed to this need.

Christmas parcels: For the second year running we were able to distribute these to each respective area for children according to the lists that the groups provided.  The blind society leaders in the respective towns helped in the distribution process of the packages.  This was a real opportunity for sharing the gospel and showing some practical kindness to people in need. Pray for the gospel seed that has been sown.

Envoy players MP3: These have the New testament recorded on them and allows the blind person to negotiate and locate books, chapters and almost to the very verse at the touch of buttons. This is such a major step forward from a room full of Braille documents. These units are the size of small mobile phones and have solar panels so no need for Chargers. Of the 500 units we received circa 150 have been issued. However we would like to see these units used more widely.

The Korça group has started to use these at their fortnightly meetings for Bible studies. The members of that group have been challenged to listen to a given portion of Scripture during the two weeks prior to each meeting.  In addition, an audio version of the Old Testament in Albanian is still being worked on by another Christian organization. It is a very lengthy process.  Please pray that the units will be used by the Lord to bring salvation to blind people and to feed believers. Pray that the full Bible will be available soon.

Envoy player with New Testament

An envoy player

What would we like to achieve?

Strengthening the blind members of the board: We would like to use our board meetings to train our blind brothers and deepen their understanding of the Word. We see them as the key to reaching their own community and also taking the work of the foundation further. Please pray for wisdom as we plan these occasions.

Making the work of the foundation known in the Albanian church: A leaflet is being produced to make churches aware of the needs of the sight restricted people. It is hoped that this leaflet will be designed, paginated and circulated soon. Pray that this leaflet will not only help churches reach out to blind people but also that we might establish contacts with blind people in the north of the country and in Tirana.

Finding more partners for the work: When Geoff accepted the role of Executive director in 2013, It was with the understanding that he would need to be replaced by 2017 which is approaching fast. Please pray for a replacement and also for a continued healthy partnership now and into the future. Pray that we might find others in Albania who would be willing to contribute to this work. Pray also for Will Niven as President of the board as he seeks to establish contacts with evangelical leaders who might be able to further the work of the foundation.

Visiting the local groups: We hope to be able to visit local groups more and to not only encourage them through the teaching of the Word but also in visiting believers. One of our purposes is also to strengthen the leaders of the groups who are facing huge challenges both on a personal level but also in their involvement with local blind societies. They often have to represent blind people before local and national government and two have even been seeking the rights of this community in court. Blind people are not only facing social stigma, discrimination, and economic hardships but also huge amounts of government red tape. Social security payments often come late and backpayments have even been denied by parliament! This leaves blind people in great tension as to when they will receive payments and often in debt. Pray for the men who are not just leading local groups but representing this community at a local and national level. Pray that our visits might be of encouragement particularly to them!

Literature: Our attempts at producing audio-books has as yet not been successful. We need to find the right people who have a good clear voice and are passionate readers. We want initially to do trial runs to see the viability of such a project. To do this professionally is extremely costly and beyond the present financial ability of the charity.

We are at this moment seeking to format some Christian books as e-publications to put on the Website also we want to start to format more literature in PDF format with cross linking (I think this may be called tethering – though I am not sure)  I have sent a couple of sample books to one of the blind leaders and he is pleased with them.

Development of the website: We have established a website for Christian materials for the blind but it is far from being completed and is beyond our technical abilities to maintain! We need help in adding to the site and maintaining it so please pray that God would guide us to the right people here in Albania.

 Geoff Townsend and Will Niven

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Hi
    I live in the uk in Northumberland.
    I’m totally blind and have been saved since 2012 and would like to spread the news of salvation to blind and sighted a like.
    If you could let me know how I can be involved that would be grate.
    God bless

    • Dear Robert, Warmest greetings from Albania. Thank you so much for your message. It is such an encouragement to know of blind believers who are interested in helping others know more about the Lord Jesus. I will contact you by email with some of the ways that you might help. It may be possible for us to even meet you this summer as we are going to be travelling through Northumberland to Scotland. Every blessing, Will

      • Hi will I’ve just emailed you thank you regards rob


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: