Eye surgeries produce exciting results in the Philippines

By November 21, 2007

Philippines (MNN) — Nineteen people, aged 16-82, can now see better in the Philippines jungle.  

New Tribes Mission's Nita Zelenak says cataract eye surgeries this week among the Banwaon people, located in northeaster Mindanao in the Philippines, produced dramatic results.

One of their team members turned his home into an impromptu surgical center, and the rest of the project ran like clockwork. "The German hospital sent a Philippine team to come in and do the surgery. JAARS flew them in, and Christian Blind Mission provided the lenses that went in, so it was a whole team effort. They were only there for two days, and they accomplished 19 surgeries." 

Within 24 hours, the surgery recipients had markedly improved vision. Zelenak says because the missionary team was so involved, the hope of Christ could be felt. "The people are blessed and encouraged by the fact that the missionaries are there, not just for the message, but also that they care about the people themselves and are wanting to help them. The 16-year-old said, 'Now I can learn to read so that I can read the Bible for myself.'"

It was a community-owned project.  Albert Castelijn and the other members of the translation team paid for the medical personnel flights as well as trained the tribal people to do the pre-operation and post-operation care.

Even as the team rejoices in the open doors and success of this project, they also face great spiritual challenges. Some of those come in the form of distractions and attacks spiritually, emotionally and physically.

In this case, Chris and Lynne Strange, members of the translation team, would value prayer for their son Brent and daughter Tonya who were recently in a fairly serious accident. They are out of hospital now and recovering, but it's hard for Chris and Lynne to be far away. 

Still, the team is committed to their translation work. They ask for prayer as they press on with translation of the book of Acts. What's exciting is that the church is being taught through the recently-translated book of Galatians for the first time.

There are many other outreaches, and the Banwaon church has also sent missionaries to a distant part of the tribe. There is a new church planted there, too. They are blessed to have about 25 Banwaon Bible teachers trained; they do all the teaching in the churches and the outreaches.

The church continues to reach out with the Gospel to the remaining areas who are yet to hear. There are recent signs of a new openness in some areas that have been resistant to the Gospel in the past. Pray for more labourers for Mindanao. There are still many tribal people on this island without the Gospel of Grace.

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