The eyeglass team started out just like all the other short-term mission teams we’ve sent out over the past 29 years. However, this particular team sent to a new host in South Africa, sparked an extraordinary amount of excitement and interest. And by the end of the week, members of the host congregation were asking, “How can we do this for ourselves and serve our own people with short-term missions?”
In 2017, a four-way discussion was started between St. Peter Confessional Lutheran Church in Middelburg, South Africa, MOST Ministries, the Michigan District, and Christian Friends of Africa (COFA) – a nonprofit that oversees legal and financial operations in Africa. We all agreed that this new model of mission work followed the old adage: “Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” Nearly a year and a half after the initial trip and many conversations later, and through a generous partnership with the Michigan District, MOST Ministries will be launching a four-year program to open a permanent eyeglass clinic on the St. Peter campus.
MOST Ministries has already sent a second team and invited some South Africans to be team members – and they have been learning how to test for vision and distribute the correct prescriptions. COFA has almost finished construction on a building that will hold multiple micro businesses.
Over the next four years, MOST Ministries staff will begin training South African employees, restoring dignity by providing employment, sharing our best practices on training, and securing supplies in country. We will also assist them in setting up the physical clinic, train them on how to recruit volunteers and team members, and how to use and maintain eyeglass testing equipment. MOST Ministries will also provide them with start-up supplies, including witness materials and used eyeglasses. Once the clinic is up and running, they are hoping to be self-sustainable by charging a minimal fee for the eye exam at their clinic.
Our staff is hopeful that this will be an effective way for the South African congregation at St. Peter Confessional Lutheran Church in Middelburg to put their faith into action, sharing the Gospel all over their community and country as well as throughout the continent of Africa. As you keep MOST Ministries in your thoughts, pray that this endeavor gives glory to God and will empower our South African brothers to more effectively become “fishers of men” – their fellow countrymen.
On September 8, we are excited to kick off the South Africa project during our Annual Fundraising Event at Washtenaw Community College. Our featured speakers will be, Rev. David Maier, LCMS Michigan District President, and Tim and Beth Heiney, missionaries from Guinea, who will share about the importance of short-term mission teams. These teams can open doors in communities that have long been shut to the Gospel, they can improve the physical health of a community, and they can assist in providing spiritual nourishment to those people who are hungering for the Truth.
Watch for more information to come out towards the end of the summer!