Northwest Missionaries of the Blind Reach Beyond the Printed Page
Ruth Edwards is 84 and just joined the Missionaries of the Blind. In fact, she is one of 11 people in the North Pacific Union Conference who belong to the MOB organization.
MOB is an outreach initiative of Christian Record Services for the Blind, the General Conference ministry serving the blind and visually impaired. CRS publishes magazines and books in braille, audio and large print; it also maintains a lending library of audio and braille books. In addition, CRS operates National Camps for the Blind, which gives children and adults who are blind the chance to attend summer or winter camp.
CRS representatives minister to people who are blind who live within their assigned districts in the U.S. and Canada. However, CRS serves more than 23,000 people, and many of these people live in areas where there is no CRS representative.
Therefore, they rely on volunteers like Edwards to help them.
Edwards, a member of the Spirit Lake Church in Idaho, visits two visually impaired ladies—Maxine and Patty Lou—at least once a month. Although she joined the MOB in January, Edwards has been visiting her visually impaired friends for about four years. She meets with Maxine and Patty Lou at their assisted living residence. They have prayer together, and Edwards reads the scriptures for them. From CRS Maxine receives library audio books, and Patty Lou receives the audio books and also Vantage Point, a "talking" magazine on audiocassette.
Volunteers with the MOB can visit one or more blind persons who live in their local area once a month or more. Like Edwards, they can pray with their blind friends, encourage them, and simply be there for them. Volunteers might also invite their blind friends to church or a church social event. And if a volunteer is unable to visit the individuals personally, he or she can call them for a phone visit.
Another volunteer, Rachel Hiscock, of Centralia, Wash., is a twenty-something music teacher. She has been a staff member at one of CRS blind camps for the last two summers. Hiscock was invited to teach a hand chimes choir at Camp Leoni Meadows in California and found it to be a lot of fun.
"I've made some good friends," Hiscock says.
Theresa, one of Hiscock's friends from the chimes choir, recently called her to share some good news. Theresa will be getting married—to a blind man who was also a member of Hiscock's choir. Hiscock had spoken well of Theresa to the man, and he didn't forget her remarks.
One of the people Hiscock currently visits is Gabe, a 13-year-old who attended CRS summer camp at Sunset Lake in Washington.
To those who are thinking of reaching out to people who are blind, Hiscock says, "Don't be afraid to try it." She has found that people who are blind tend to be very welcoming and understanding.
"They'll appreciate your visit and you'll appreciate getting to know them," Hiscock says. "You might just become good friends."
Aimee McHenry is another volunteer. Although McHenry is 90-years-old and her eyes are failing, she says, "I may be disabled, but I'm not out of the game yet."
She and her husband were missionaries in India, and as she mentioned, once a missionary, always a missionary. Now, McHenry has been assigned four visually impaired persons to contact. The telephone is her way of reaching her visually impaired friends.
"I do enjoy talking to people and visiting," she says. "The only thing is that it makes me want to get out and do more."
When asked what advice she would give people who are thinking of becoming missionaries of the blind, McHenry says, "Get at it—as fast as you can, because it will help you more than the blind."
Would you like to join the MOB?
Christian Record Services for the Blind directly serves 927 blind and visually impaired people living in the North Pacific Union Conference. That doesn't include the individuals who receive CRS reading services indirectly through libraries, schools and nursing homes.
The NPUC territory's 11 missionaries of the blind visit about 25 blind and visually impaired people each month. More people are needed to join the MOB—dedicated, mission-minded volunteers who want to be a friend to people who are blind.
If you would like to know more, please contact Personal Ministries at Christian Record Services for the Blind at 1-877-288-1188, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit the Personal Ministries Web page at www.christianrecord.org/pm and click on "M.O.B. Volunteers."