According to Dr. Nathan Henson, “The largest population of blind people are [those] who need glasses.” Henson is an ophthalmologist and missionary to the Quechua people of Peru, where he and four other American doctors run a medical clinic in Cusco. In addition to screening patients and making glasses in-house, they treat cataracts—a reversible condition that is among the leading causes of blindness worldwide.
“Some people come in totally blind—we have to lead them in by two hands—[but they] leave seeing like they are 16 again,” he said. Once, he removed cataracts from the eyes of an elderly couple. Before learning about Henson’s clinic Luz de Vida (or “Light of Life”), they had planned to throw themselves off a bridge.
Others, Henson has to find. A few times a year, his team treks into remote villages and asks to be taken to the blind. One time he found a man with cataracts, sitting in his home. Henson operated using mobile equipment, and the man could see for the first time in five years. There are few better segues to sharing a message of hope than restoring someone’s vision, one of Jesus’ most frequent miracles. “It opens great doors for talking about the gospel,” he said. “People listen after those types of things.”
Although Henson’s work with patients is important, his bigger focus is on mentoring medical students. “As much medical work as we can do here, we will never do as much as they will,” he said. “If we can share Christ with a group of students and disciple them, they’ll far surpass our impact.”
One of Henson’s students recently came to him with a dilemma. “I used to hear the gospel and it had no effect on me or made me mad. Now when I hear it, I get emotional. It moves me,” the student said. “I don’t know what to do, because I am the class skeptic. If I believe, then I have to be a different person.”
This is exactly what Henson's hoping for—that students will be changed by the compassionate way his team cares for patients. “We want them to be excellent doctors. But ultimately, our hope is to disciple these students so that they will go out and be heroes in Jesus’ name.”
Photography by Nicolas Villaume