I met Ida on a trip to the Philippines in 2009. She is a Salvation Army officer (minister) and her role then was as bookkeeper at the Salvo headquarters.
Ida’s eyesight was failing because she had cataracts growing in both her eyes.
Although she was always friendly and smiling, she was struggling to read the figures and reports sent to headquarters and it wasn’t long before she confessed that she was having real difficulty seeing anything.
All Ida needed was an operation to remove the cataracts. This is a fairly common operation in Australia, but much more difficult in the Philippines where the basic medical coverage available for officers at that time didn’t cover costs of operations or stays in hospital.
Ida was resigned to becoming blind and severely restricted in what she felt she could do for God and the people of her country.
As I thought about this situation, I found it hard to accept. I knew Ida didn’t have to lose her sight. All that was needed were the funds for the removal of her cataracts—a relatively small amount of money by Australian standards.
Even though this sort of money was out of Ida’s reach, it was within ours, so we contacted friends in Australia and told them of the situation. They were more than willing to provide the money for Ida’s operation.
Because of this assistance, Ida had the cataract operation and today she can see and is continuing in her work, with great effect.
Jesus once told the story of a traveller who was robbed, beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. A number of people passed by, but only one stopped to help—and used his own funds to ensure that the traveller received the care he needed to recover (Luke chapter 10, verses 25–37).
The person who helped the traveller didn’t set out that day looking for someone to help, but when he saw a person in need he chose to help and did what he could. When I saw Ida, I felt God challenged me to do what I could to help her.
All of us can make a difference in our worlds. We don’t have to travel to another country to find opportunities to use what we have, and who we are, to help others.
It may be something simple like giving up a seat on public transport to an older person or a pregnant woman. It may be much more involved, such as supporting a cause through volunteering or donating money.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a big thing which others notice or a little thing that no-one sees. It’s just about doing the one thing that you can do, when the opportunity presents itself.