GA members collect eyeglasses to aid ministry in Honduras
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)--A nationwide effort by Girls in Action (GA) groups is touching thousands of lives in the struggling country of Honduras.
GA is the organization for girls in the first through sixth grade sponsored by Woman's Missionary Union; a key facet in each of their meetings involves learning about missionaries and their work.
After learning about missionary Jo Anne Foreman and her eyeglass ministry during their May 2001 GA meetings, girls across the country wanted to help. Sending more than 3,000 pairs of eyeglasses, GAs gave visible evidence of their interest and concern for those in need.
During the month of May, GA magazines Discovery, GA World and Aware featured missions work in Honduras. Foreman, one of the featured missionaries, conducts eye clinics in rural areas.
As a missionary for the International Mission Board, Foreman strives to help improve the health of Hondurans, especially those living in rural areas. Hurricane Mitch devastated the country in 1998, and much of the nation remains impaired. Poverty accompanied by poor living conditions impedes the country's efforts to repair roads and bridges to their original conditions.
Ministering to Hondurans since 1978, Foreman teaches discipleship classes, initiates Bible studies, works with communities to plant churches and plans and conducts the eye clinics.
For more than 10 years, Foreman has sought to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the Honduran people through the clinics. Foreman examines the eyes of those who visit the clinic, and she presents Honduras citizens with pairs of eyeglasses that match his or her prescription. After glasses are distributed, clinic volunteers share with patients the circle of love within the ministry.
"We tell them that God loves them so much that he touched someone's heart to provide the glasses, he touched other people to help in cleaning the glasses, finding the prescription of them and getting them to Honduras," Foreman said.
Before the glasses ever reach Honduras, Christians in the United States diligently work toward the ministry's fruition. Nearsighted and farsighted people around the country send their old or new spectacles to Foreman's home church, Central Baptist Church, Marion, Ohio.
A group of ladies from Central Baptist cleans the glasses under the supervision of church member Donna Savage. Her son, John, identifies the prescriptions of the donated glasses using a lensometer. The ladies then sort, package and label the glasses according to their prescriptions.
Rural churches in Honduras offer their buildings for the clinics, and volunteers from the churches help pilot the ministry. The pastor and church members often visit the newly spectacled patients to invite them to church and to offer more information about Christianity and the plan of salvation.
"It is wonderful to see so many people get involved in this ministry," Foreman remarked.
Although Foreman has never been formally trained, her knowledge and practical experience aid many grateful Hondurans. Foreman deliberately establishes the clinics in areas where no optometrists practice, so the clinics often are the only venue those with poor eyesight have to acquire the help they need. If an optometrist practices in an area, Foreman refers residents of that area to the professional for examinations. She then gives the patients glasses based on their prescriptions.
Many recipients of the glasses are believers who have not been able to read their Bibles because of their poor eyesight. The ministry reaches those people as well as those who might have never opened a Bible. In both cases, the glasses are offered along with an offering of God's grace.
"Each time the patient puts on his 'new' glasses, it is a reminder of God's love for him [or her]," Foreman added.
As GAs learned how Foreman seeks to share the love of Jesus by meeting the immediate, physical needs of the Hondurans, they began collecting glasses from their communities and congregations. As the GA literature suggested, many groups decorated collection boxes and placed them in their churches.
GA magazines design editor Barbara Massey noted that GAs are always eager to help missionaries succeed. The collecting and sending of more than 160 boxes of glasses was their way of helping the eyeglass ministry thrive. "This is a direct example of learning of a need and working together to meet that need," Massey said.
The mission emphasis in the GA program grants young girls the opportunity to see men and women at work for God, and the girls are encouraged to partner with these missionaries through prayer and giving.
"As members of Girls in Action, girls learn about missions. They learn to pray for missionaries and their work. They learn to save and give their money for missions, and they participate in helping others in their communities and around the world," Massey added.
Foreman and those involved in the eyeglass ministry were astounded by the GA's response. "We never expected to receive so many.... I will [now] have enough glasses for the clinics in 2002," she revealed.
Individuals or churches interested in participating in the eyeglass ministry in the future may send glasses to John Savage, 3550 Maple Grove Road, Marion, OH 43302.
For information about GA, call WMU's Customer Service at 1-800-968-7301 or visit www.gapassport.com
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: DONNA SAVAGE.