An optometrist on the Ruth Bell River Boat helps open eyes to spiritual truth through his compassionate care while traveling to isolated communities on the Amazon
Tom Ovington is the community health and logistics assistant in the Samaritan’s Purse Bolivia office.
“And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, ‘Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!’ … So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, that our eyes may be opened.’ So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him,” (Matthew 20:30, 32-34, NKJV).
“I can help you with your eyesight.”
With these few words spoken in his limited Spanish, Dr. Jim Davey gave hope to Bolivians living in small communities along the Isiboro River. Dr. Davey was volunteering on the Ruth Bell River Boat, which travels around the Amazon region as a floating clinic. He was the first optometrist to ever travel on the boat.
Nearly 200 patients of all ages sought care from Dr. Davey. He brought with him eye drops, medicines, and eyeglasses, along with his expertise and kind demeanor. While he was not able to remedy every situation (such as astigmatism, which was prevalent), the majority of beneficiaries left with a solution to their problems and the testimony of God’s love through Jesus Christ.
One such individual was Crecencio Zapata. Crecencio was 70 years old and having trouble seeing things at a distance. He had lost his ability to read as well. Dr. Davey was able to fit Crecencio with two sets of eyeglasses, one for each disorder.
As he left the boat with his glasses, a new Bible, and the Gospel message, Crecencio was all smiles.
“Now I can return home and read my Bible,” he said.
It was a privilege to help the people of eastern Bolivia with their eyesight, both physically and spiritually. The ministry of Dr. Davey was imbued with a spirit of compassion, just like Jesus when He healed the two blind men. All of us on the Ruth Bell had our eyes opened.