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Pastor and students bring eyewear to developing world

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Waldheim (Sask.) MB Church’s lead pastor Greg Wiens describes himself as “more of a hands-on pastor” than an “overly spiritualized person.” But when a recurring dream plagued him after reading an article about Adspecs – inexpensive, easy-to-use eyeglasses for the developing world – Wiens took notice and took action.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.3 billion people who have little or no access to eye care could benefit from corrective eyewear to improve productivity and employment prospects, health, quality of life, and safety.

In answer to this problem, retired Oxford professor Joshua Silver’s Adspecs (Adaptive Spectacles) has been hailed as one of the most important contributions to humanitarian causes of the last 50 years. The glasses are inexpensive (currently $19.00; expected to drop with emerging technologies), and self-adjusting.

Wiens contacted Silver and connections fell into place for the new lead pastor, who had just moved from a youth pastor position in Winnipeg. Silver directed him to Kevin White, a retired U.S. Marine and co-founder of Global Vision 2020, a U.S. non-profit organization charged with the global distribution of the eyeglasses. White sent Wiens a sample pair of glasses, which he showed off at the MCC office in Saskatoon, and again at the 2009 BFL study conference, where he met Paul Kroeker, director of CMU’s Outtatown discipleship program.

That’s where the story begins to take off. After some negotiation, Wiens agreed to raise the bulk of the cost of 120 Adspecs glasses and an additional 200 reading glasses with fixed focus. One of Kroeker’s Outtatown teams would take the eyewear to Guatemala during their 90-day outreach phase, starting Jan.12.

The contingent of 31 students and four student-leaders took an all-day intensive training program in Winnipeg Jan. 8–9 from Global Vision 2020’s Kevin White, preparing them to deliver the corrective eyewear.

Adspecs require no specialized dispensing equipment and come ready to wear. Syringes on the frames inject silicon oil into the lenses. Once optimal visual acuity has been achieved, the syringes are detached and the glasses are ready to wear, usually within minutes.

But it’s not mission accomplished for Wiens. While he doesn’t aspire to leadership with Global Vision 2020, he’s happy to be a spokesperson for the organization, and dreams of inspiring Christian non-profit organizations like MCC, Samaritan’s Purse, and Compassion International to embrace the corrective eyewear.

To find out more about Global Vision 2020, visit www.gv2020.org.

—Karla Braun

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