The LORD Alone Opens the Eyes of the Blind | PART 5, Becoming Part of a New Community.

Something I had not anticipated in the rehabilitation program for sight loss, was that being together with others who shared this circumstance of sight loss, and having some instructors who were themselves visually impaired, would become an integral part of the whole process. Classes were on a daytime schedule on weekdays, and the evenings and weekends became a time of interaction with the other clients. Food service was provided as part of the room and board for the clients for all meals, and it was served cafeteria style. Since we were a small group, we all ate together at the same long table. Later I would learn of the similarity of community benefits for Christians in the local church when I became part of the Lord's family. The local church should be a place where Christian teaching and fellowship can help in the mutual growth and enjoyment of our new life in Christ. A common approach to the challenges of daily living, and a shared position to truly sympathize with the hurts of others, are two very important factors in a community of people. "Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God." (2 Corinthians 1:4 AKJV). "9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ 10 who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11 Therefore comfort yourselves together and edify one another, even as also ye do." (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 KJ21).

I had never known any blind people in a personal way, and I had many misconceptions as I considered characteristics of blind individuals in a narrow manner by not realizing the great diversity that could exist in such a group. The Braille instructor who was totally blind from birth was a major factor in reshaping my idea of what it means to be blind. She was very cheerful, confident in her work, and very patient and caring. She had a master's degree and interacted on an equal level with the other professional staff members who were sighted. What a beautiful parallel to the desirable conduct of a committed Christian who is content with the station in life designed for them by the Lord, because the world is constantly observing! Gradually I found myself thinking more of the other clients in the program with me, and wanted to be uplifting to them as we together tackled the challenges of learning new ways of doing everyday activities without the benefit of sight.

We began to talk about classes during mealtimes and evenings, and we shared personal experiences which in some cases had been very hurtful when they happened to us, but now had an element of humor. One such incident from high school days was related by a partially sighted client from southeast Ohio. He had approached a person with shoulder length hair to ask for a dance, only to be harshly rebuffed by that person in a male voice! Another fellow from St. Louis told a story of being hassled by a drunk in a bar. The antagonist kept insisting that the man wasn't really blind because he had seen him come up to the bar by himself and sit down. When the blind man finally got perturbed enough by the annoyance, he popped out his one prosthetic eye and plopped it onto the bar in front of the man. The drunk was so shocked at this that he vomited. One evening I was walking with these two men in a neighborhood near the Center, and some small children were across the street from us. When they saw the three of us each with our canes, they began to sing "three blind mice," and we chimed back to them "give us a piece of cheese!" This little outing took place a number of weeks after the program had started, and by this time we were feeling much more comfortable at our adaptations, and we had developed friendships with each other that allowed us to laugh at many situations.

In the recreation room in the Center were a number of games, puzzles, and other adaptive items for leisure time. Some were designed for those with low vision, and others were tactually marked for use by the totally blind. In addition to this facility there was a volunteer coordinator for extra curricular activities. She arranged for us to attend several outings including: a concert in Cincinnati featuring the Stattler Brothers, a pairs roller skating event teaming a sighted person with a blind person, and taking part in the studio audience of the Cincinnati TV program of Nick Clooney (father of the actor George Clooney). Another interesting way the Lord used this woman in my life was that she was open about her Christianity in her conversation. I had been away from church since upper elementary school, and had bought into the ever increasing man-centered philosophy of our society. I considered myself an agnostic. I tried to debate with this secure Christian. She was willing to discuss her strong faith in detail, but she saw debating about the existence of God as fruitless because Bible truth is spiritually discerned, not discovered by our own intellect.

I was probably more impressed with this woman's demeanor and gentle spirit than I would have been with skillful debate. but the Holy Spirit was only beginning to slightly open the door to my heart. I praise the Lord that He did not leave me in my unconverted condition! I now am much more aware, through scripture, of the Lord's design as described by Paul in Acts. "22 But we desire to hear of you what you think: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against. 23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. 24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. 25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spoke the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet to our fathers, 26 Saying, Go to this people, and say, Hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and not perceive: 27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 28 Be it known therefore to you, that the salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles, and that they will hear it." (Acts 28:22-28 AKJV). Hallelujah, Amen!

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Published 7 August 2007