When asked how blindness affected his ministry, the late Victor K, founder of FEBA Ukraine and father of its current director, said, “One peculiar side effect of me being blind is that people open up to me a lot easier. I counsel hundreds of people every year.”

According to the World Health Organisation, there are at least 2.2 billion people worldwide who have some degree of vision impairment. About 80% of vision problems are avoidable or curable, but this requires proper and regular medical care. It is therefore no surprise that the greatest occurrence of vision impairment is found in low-income communities. Only 10-15% of people with vision loss are completely blind, but in this newsletter, the term “blind” is used to refer to those whose vision impairment prevents comfortable access to printed and visual media.

A perfect fit

Evangelisation traditionally relied on physical interaction and the distribution of Christian literature. However, while blind people could meet a missionary in some countries, what about those who lived in places like the Soviet Union or China, where missionaries were forbidden? And what about Bibles or Bible-related literature? Even today, it is very expensive to print media in braille – an Afrikaans Bible in braille costs around R3,200 to produce – and a surprising number of blind people never learn to read braille due to a lack of opportunities.

This makes FEBA Radio a perfect fit. FEBA’s programs, which are available through radio and online, share the Bible and teach people how to interpret it, and blind or illiterate listeners often memorise the Bible verses they hear. There are also programs that centre on topics like health, relationships, and mental health, from a biblical perspective. A blind listener from China says, “I have been taught to tell right from wrong and whether something is good or bad. I have never studied in school, yet I have received a quality education from Radio Liangyou. God has gradually transformed my life.”

For God’s glory

In John 9:2-3, the disciples ask Jesus: whose sin caused the blind man’s blindness, his or his parents? To which Jesus replies, “‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned … but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.’” In the context of the passage, this refers to the blind man’s healing. However, it also applies to believers who remain blind their whole lives. God can work powerfully through them. Victor K is one example: he established FEBA Ukraine, but for 20 years before that, when Ukraine was still part of the Soviet Union, he broadcast programs into the country via shortwave through Saipan. He also raised a son who is now leading FEBA Ukraine’s growing ministry during war.

An interviewer once asked Victor: “Do you ask God why [you lost your sight]?” To which Victor responded: “I stopped asking the why question a long time ago. The world is full of unexplained suffering. We know that God is good, and He is sovereign – that’s enough for me. The question that I have to answer every day is: ‘What opportunities are available to me today to use for His Kingdom?’”

Amen.

Until all have heard,
Dr Jurie Vermeulen

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