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Out of the Darkness

Out of the Darkness



It was 2013 when my vision started to become cloudy and I was plagued by a constant headache. I knew what was coming. After all, five people in my family had already gone blind. It wasn’t long before my vision was completely gone, and I found myself having to rely on others to care for me.

My husband and I were married when I was young, but he died in 2006. My husband’s family had taken me in, as is the common practice in my community. In 2018, I became very ill. They thought I would die, so they took me to my father’s house. While I was there, I delivered my seventh baby and named her Nying’ong, which means “poverty.” I couldn’t even see my child’s face, and I thought I never would. I was so discouraged, unable to hope beyond my current state, so her name was a reflection of my circumstances.

Patients sit in a row waiting for their eye patches to be removed

Patients wait in line for their eye patches to be removed

By the grace of God, though, I began to recover from my illness. While I was still at my father’s house, I heard an announcement on the radio about a free eye clinic. If only I could make it to the clinic, maybe I could get my vision back! I begged my son, who was about twelve, to take my newborn daughter and me, and he agreed. We took a goat with us so we’d have milk on the journey and walked for four long days to the eye clinic. We arrived early, and while we waited the three weeks for the doctors to arrive, I prayed and hoped that my vision would be restored.


I’ve had the opportunity to travel to South Sudan for the past eleven years with other members of the eye team at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya. We partner with Samaritan’s Purse to hold week-long eye clinics where several hundred people stand in line for hours or even days waiting for their turn to receive cataract surgery. They wait with their heads down, depressed and despondent due to the limitations that come as a result of their vision impairment.

During the week, our team performs between seventy and eighty surgeries a day—an exhausting pace that is absolutely worth it to be part of God’s life-transforming work. After surgery, when we take the patches from our patients’ eyes, they walk away so different than they came. So many of them leave singing and dancing because they can finally see again!

Cataract surgery is the most common surgery in the world. You might be wondering how the surgery works. You know when your windshield gets dirty, and it’s hard to see out of it? Imagine that sensation, but constantly. This is essentially what happens when someone gets cataracts; the lens that focuses the light to the back of the eye becomes cloudy, to the point where a person can no longer see through it. Your eye may otherwise be healthy, but you’ve got a dirty windshield.

A row of patients beginning to smile as the bandages are removed from their eyes

The patients are grateful for the life-change cataract surgery brings.

It’s a quick surgery, as it takes only ten minutes to make a small cut, pull out the cataract, and put a clear plastic lens inside the eye to focus the light where it needs to go. In the United States, more than 3 million of these surgeries are performed every year, according to the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. In South Sudan, though, supplies for the surgery are scarce. So thousands of people remain blind from cataracts. These eye clinics are our opportunity to answer the need.

It's not just the eyes of our patients that we’re caring for, though. We partner with pastors who minister to the souls of those waiting in line. They ask questions, listen to their stories, and share the hope that is found in Jesus. So many people come looking for hope, hungry for the Gospel. They come for healing, and we’re eager to guide them to the ultimate Healer.


After waiting for so long, I finally made it to the front of the line. One of the doctors performed the surgery and placed a bandage over my eyes. The next day, they removed the bandage, and I could barely believe it. I could see again!

The first thing I did was look down at my daughter. My precious baby Nying’ong, who was so beautiful. I thought I would never see again, that I would never be able to see her face. I couldn’t stop staring at her.

A woman with a big smile on her face holding her baby beside a photo of her and a boy looking down at the baby.

Elizabeth holds her daughter, Nying’ong.

One of the pastors asked me if I knew Jesus. “Oh yes!” I said. “I know Jesus. He is the one who has given me back my vision today.” I was beaming, and the pastor and the doctor were smiling with me, celebrating. I knew my life was going to be different. And because my life was different, my children’s lives would be different. God had restored my dignity. He lifted me out of the darkness and into the light. He gave me hope again.


I remember when Elizabeth came to the clinic in November 2018. Her son held onto their goat with one hand and led her with the other. The baby in her arms couldn’t have been more than a few weeks old. We performed cataract surgery on Elizabeth, and when we took her eye patch off the following day, we got to witness a moment I’ll never forget. She looked down at her daughter and was able to see her for the first time. She broke out into a huge grin, leaned down to kiss her baby’s face, and then hugged her close. Her joy spread quickly—everyone in the room was smiling and celebrating with her.

A patient with a big smile on her face facing the surgeon, both of their arms raised high as they rejoice that she can see again.

Dr. Ben Roberts celebrates with a patient who can see after the surgery.

It was as if something greater than her eyesight had been restored. Something deeper. Something more meaningful. Something that had the power to transform her life.


PRAY: Ask God to continue working through doctors like those on Tenwek’s eye team to provide hope and healing. Pray that He will open doors for more clinics to take place and that He would draw more people to Himself through them.

GO: Like Dr. Roberts, do you have a skill that you could use to serve others? We want to help you join the work God is doing in places all around in the world. See how you can get involved.

Missionary Bio: Dr. Ben Roberts and his wife, Jenny, have been missionaries at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya for fifteen years. They never tire of seeing God transform lives through His healing touch. Learn more about their ministry.

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