From Joe Effiong, Uyo
“I feel happy because I know by the time this plaster is removed, I can see,” 16-year-old Samuel Friday Ben said. He did not only speak for himself, but also for scores of several others who had turned out for three-day medical screening at the premises of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, Afaha Eket, Akwa Ibom State.
They came from far and near in response to the church’s announcement for a free eye test and treatment organized by LDS Charities in collaboration with Rainbow Vision clinic. LDS Charities is the humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Out of over 1,500 beneficiaries, 700 obtained eye glasses while 60 had surgery.
The free eye treatment outreach, which was technically coordinated by Dr. Ekanem Effiong and 17 specialists with support from volunteers from the Church.
Effiong explained why the exercise was necessary: “Without a good sight, they will not be able to study the scriptures because scriptures are better studied by yourself and when you come to church, they would expound it even more. But you must have some time to study the scriptures. We have done it in Aba, Lagos, Benin and we are moving around Nigeria.
He explained that the church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Saints fully funded the outreach.
“They do this to help our people know what the Lord has for them and the opportunity has also come for those who are poor and cannot help themselves. Can you imagine that one cataract extraction costs about N70,000 in the clinic run by ophthalmologist, but here, it is free of charge. Our target was at least 50 cataracts for the surgery,” Effiong said.
Apart from cataract, Effiong said other eye problems such as glaucoma, were also brought for examination by the patients, even though they had did not make arrangement for such.
“So we have given them direction where they could go for assistance.
President Etiha, leader of the church, drew inspiration from Luke 11:34-35 to teach the excited beneficiaries during the opening devotionals. He explained that the eye is light of the body.
“We need to take care of our spiritual and physical blindness for us to be truly happy here on earth,” he said.
Ikpe Nkanang, Director of Public Affairs of the Church said: “LDS Charities make life easier and greater for humanity, irrespective of whether or not you are a member. We want you to have your eye sight restored so that you can read your scriptures.”
An ophthalmologist who also attended the opening devotional, Dr. Victor Akpan of Akwa Ibom Government State House Clinic said commended the church.
“There are very few institutions that can put in so much into health care as the church has put it.”
Akpan played a huge role in the success of the eye surgery sessions.
Another volunteer and consultant ophthalmologist from Methodist Hospital, Ituk Mbang, who identified himself as Dr. Donatus, also commended the church for the exercise, which he said had helped to reduce needless blindness.
Mercy Akpan, another eye specialist was overwhelmed by the outcome of the free eye treatment clinic.
“I have been going for outreach for the past seven years, and I tell you this is one of the best planned, controlled, coordinated, organised outreach I have ever attended, because everybody was at their duty post with their uniforms. The ushers were amazing. Also, one of the eye surgery theatre staff told me that a patient read 6:9 after an operation. With my seven years’ experience, I know this is a miracle because I know what it means for a patient to read 6:9 after an eye surgery. I thank God for the opportunity like this because it means that the people who never have money to go for surgery would have free operation.”
Godwin Imo who was waiting to get his glasses, said the exercise was a great relief.
“I had glasses before but it has expired. They have tested me so they will issue me new pair of glasses. This is very encouraging. I didn’t pay anything and I’m not a member of this church. This what the state and local government should be doing. Since they are taking over the responsibility of government, I pray that God blesses them and enhance their coast. Wherever they took the money from to do this, may God replenish it.”
Nkanang said the LDS Charities’ mission is to prevent avoidable blindness and visual impairment as it strengthens eye care services to the poor. Since 2003, more than 550,000 people have benefited from the Church’s vision projects throughout the world. In 2018 alone, 309,800 had access to LDS Charities vision screening across 35 countries.
The stake president of the church in Eket, Gabriel Inam, explained the philological doctrine of the church.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints works with those who share the gospel of Jesus Christ in every nooks and cranny of the community. we believe in God the eternal father; we believe in Jesus Christ; we believe in the Holy Ghost, contrary to the rumours or speculation that we don’t believe in God, that we only preach Mormon. That is fallacy. We preach about Jesus Christ; we teach about Jesus Christ. We have a wonderful plan called the plan of salvation; the atonement of Jesus Christ is central in that plan of salvation. So, the church is a complete way of life, it teaches us how we can live a better life and prepare ourselves to return to the presence of God.”