Hope and a Future

6 Oct 2021

As full-time missionaries with Pioneers Australia fully seconded to work with Hellenic Ministries (HM) in Greece, Heather and I left Australia June 2017. We left knowing that I had a problem with deteriorating eyesight, at that time diagnosed as slow-growing cataracts in both eyes.

Following further and more rapid deterioration in vision, particularly in my central vision, I was booked in for cataract surgery in late 2018 in Greece. Upon review prior to the planned surgery, it was discovered that the problem was more than cataracts. Following further testing in Greece and Melbourne, the clinical name for the condition has not been identified. All that can be concluded is that there is damage to my optic nerves in both eyes and there is no reversal and no treatment available.

My eyesight has continued to deteriorate, at times quite rapidly, to the point where I am now legally blind. We returned to Melbourne in late 2019 and I continue to work with HM in a part time, ‘special projects’ capacity.

Deteriorating eyesight has resulted in a significant reduction in my functional capacity, including stopping driving, reading or managing to use a phone or computer, without the use of assistive technology, both hardware and software. I am also learning to use a long cane for walking. There are many other aspects of day-to-day living with being legally blind that have undergone significant adjustment.

However, even with this disability, I have found that mission work is still possible and rewarding. Of course, it is important for the organisation to be sensitive about how to help me to be more effective and be willing to accept the condition and make some necessary adjustments.

By necessity, I have had to adjust my and others’ expectations of what I can achieve in a day-to-day operational functionality. However, this has brought with it new opportunities for growing my passion and vision for encouraging, equipping, and mentoring new and developing, aspiring leaders. Consequently, my advisory and consulting role in organisational change management has moved from being more ‘hands on doing’ to leadership and coordination of the activity. These have been rewarding for me and effective in organisational outcomes.

This adjustment in personal and work activity has not been easy. I have learnt three main things:

  1. To be real
    …to face my feelings of frustration, grief and loss. For example, I understand that God wants me ‘to look through spiritual eyes rather than physical eyes which could distract me’.  
  2. To be vulnerable
    1. to understand my limitation
    1. that I need to accept it and cannot fix it
    1. I need to ask for help
  3. To know I am loved by God and to trust Him
    1. my identity and worth is not in what I do
    1. God’s grace is sufficient – see I Corinthians 12: 9-10
    1. God knew about the eyesight problem before I did, therefore, as I trust Him, He will help me to overcome, cope with and adapt to changes and give me creative strategies. Isaiah 42:16 has been important
    1. Vision is not just seeing but it is also believing
    1. To survive, I must be more dependent on Him and surrender to His lordship in my life.
    1. His guarantee of a hope and future, as expressed in Jeremiah 2:11, is a great comfort to me and those who continue to support me
  • R. a Pioneers worker

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