In 2001, Doug Nichols was the speaker in the Old Tab in our evening service. As you know, he always challenges us with huge projects. He told the story of a 26 year old minister who was burdened for the many orphans roaming the streets of New York city. It was a time when thousands of immigrants were coming to America and because of the many hardships they faced, both enroute to and in trying to get settled in a new country, many parents died and the streets of New York City were filled with orphans. No one had the time or money to look after them. Horrified by their plight, Charles Brace began the foster home plan. When he ran out of homes, he organized a unique solution, the Orphan Train. The idea was simple: carefully put hundreds of orphans on a train heading west. As the train passed through towns along the way, Christian committees brought approved Christian families to the train depot to claim a new son or daughter from the Orphan Train.
By the time the last Orphan Train steamed west in 1929, thousands of children had found new homes and new lives. Of course, we know that not all the homes would have been the best.
Doug Nichols then challenged us to adopt 25,000 or even 50,000 orphans. As we closed in prayer, I felt the Lord clearly saying to me, “You cannot adopt 25,000 orphans, but you could help that many children from going blind.” Actually this had been on my mind for several years already. Over and over this thought went through my mind, “For lack of 60 cents a child is going blind. What if one of our nine precious grandchildren had gone blind for lack of 60 cents?”
No surgery can restore the child’s sight when blindness occurs from a lack of Vitamin A. Christian Blind Mission (the world’s leading organization to prevent and cure blindness) can purchase, ship to other countries and dispense three capsules of Vitamin A for only 60 cents. It will be stored in the child’s liver and prevent blindness for a year. Children between the ages of two and six are in special need of this vitamin.
Henry and I prayed and thought of every creative way we could to make this thing work. We envisioned hundreds of boys and girls, and even adults, collecting pennies, dimes and quarters. Finally we thought of small prescription bottles from the drug store that would hold dimes or quarters and we would organize a project much like the Christmas Shoe Boxes. Small bottles would be made available and one person in each church or school or any organization would be responsible to set up the project in their particular setting, see that the bottles were collected at a certain time and one cheque sent to the Mission.
We presented our idea to the Mission and they were thankful for any help. We persuaded them that we needed a short video – about seven or eight minutes long - to present the need. It took quite some time before they produced a video - just for us and our project – which we called Bottle-up-Blindness. We believe the video challenges every age group and by now our vision is much more than just having children involved. We believe every family member can be a part of this project. Although the little bottles we provide hold dimes and quarters, any small containers can be used to collect pennies, nickels - or even loonies and toonies.
The reason we chose these two prescription bottles is so that children have a reachable goal within a reasonable time period. Adults may want to collect all year, but for children we feel it's best to have an 8 – 10 week period. The challenge is: collect 30 dimes and you can prevent blindness in five children; collect 24 quarters and you prevent blindness in 10 children. Even 60 pennies helps one child.
-- Henry & Eva Goertzen in Three Hills, Alberta, Canada
Note from Doug Nichols: Perhaps God would use you to do a similar project; 60¢ to provide a meal and the Gospel to a street child in Manila or orphan in Africa. Imagine, $6 to provide the Gospel and feed 10 needy children and $60 for 100! www.actioncic.org; www.actioninternational.org