Jehovah Has Opened My Eyes
As told by Patrice Oyeka
It was late afternoon. Having spent another day in the depths of darkness—blind, lonely, listening to the radio droning on—I decided to put an end to my miserable life. I poured a poisonous powder in a cup of water and put it on the table in front of me. I wanted to take my last bath and then dress myself nicely before drinking that deadly concoction, ending it all. Why did I want to commit suicide? And how is it that I am still alive today to relate this story?
I WAS born on February 2, 1958, in the province of Kasaï Oriental, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I lost my father when I was a boy of nine years, and my older brother supported me as I grew up.
After I finished school, I got a job on a rubber plantation. One morning in 1989, while preparing a report in my office, I suddenly found myself in a state of complete darkness. At first, I thought that there was a power outage, but I could hear the generator running and it was morning! Horrified, I realized that I could not see anything, not even my notes in front of me!
I immediately called one of the men who worked under me to take me to the person in charge of the infirmary. That man, in turn, recommended that I be taken to a more experienced physician in the city. Noting that my retinas were torn and my condition was serious, he sent me to the capital city, Kinshasa.
Life in Kinshasa
In Kinshasa, I consulted with many ophthalmologists, but none of them could help me. After I had spent 43 days in the hospital, the doctors concluded that I would be blind for the rest of my life! Members of my family then took me to all kinds of churches in search of miraculous healing, but all their efforts were in vain.
Finally, I gave up hope of recovering my sight. Everything had become dark in my life. I lost my sight, and I lost my job. I also lost my wife, who left me, taking with her everything that we owned in our house. I felt ashamed to go out or to associate with other people. I became withdrawn and spent my days inside the house. I was a recluse and felt utterly useless.
Twice I attempted to end my life. The second time is described at the beginning of this story. I was saved by a small child in the family. He unintentionally took that cup and poured the contents out on the ground while I was taking my bath. Thankfully, he did not drink from it. But to my great disappointment, I could not find the cup. Then I confessed to my family members why I was looking for it and what I had intended to do.
I thank God and my family for keeping an eye on me. My plan to commit suicide was foiled.
Finding Joy in Life Again
On a Sunday in 1992, while I was sitting at home smoking, two of Jehovah’s Witnesses called on me in the course of their house-to-house ministry. Noticing that I was blind, they read Isaiah 35:5 to me: “At that time the eyes of the blind ones will be opened, and the very ears of the deaf ones will be unstopped.” My heart was overwhelmed with joy when I heard those words! Contrary to what I had heard in the churches I had visited, the Witnesses offered no miraculous healing. Rather, they explained that I could recover my sight in the new world that God promises, if I would just get to know God. (John 17:3) Right away, I started to study the Bible with the Witnesses, using the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth. I also began to attend all the Christian meetings at the local Kingdom Hall and made changes in my life. I stopped smoking.
But my blindness was hindering my spiritual progress. So I went to an institute for the blind in order to learn to read and write Braille. This enabled me to take part in the ministerial training provided at the Kingdom Hall. Soon I began to share in the preaching work in my neighborhood. I started to find joy in life again. I continued to make progress and dedicated my life to Jehovah. I was baptized on May 7, 1994.
As my love for Jehovah and for people grew, I developed a desire to enter the full-time ministry. Since December 1, 1995, I have been serving as a regular pioneer, a full-time minister. I have also had the privilege of serving as an elder in my congregation since February 2004. Sometimes I am invited as a visiting speaker to give Bible talks to other congregations in my area. All these blessings bring me great joy and make me appreciate that no disability can prevent us from realizing our desire to serve Jehovah God.
Jehovah Has Given Me “Eyes”
As mentioned earlier, my wife abandoned me because of my blindness. But I have received an extra blessing from Jehovah. In a special sense, he gave me eyes to see. Anny Mavambu, who accepted me to be her husband despite my disability, has become my eyes. As she too is a full-time preacher, she always accompanies me in the ministry. She also reads the source material for my talks to me so that I can write my notes in Braille. She is a special blessing to me. Because of her, I have seen the truthfulness of the words of Proverbs 19:14: “The inheritance from fathers is a house and wealth, but a discreet wife is from Jehovah.”
Jehovah has also blessed Anny and me with two children—a boy and a girl. I am yearning to see their faces in Paradise! Another blessing is that my older brother, who kindly allows us to live on his property, accepted Bible truth and was baptized! All of us are in the same congregation.
Despite my disability, my heartfelt desire is to do even more to serve God because he has blessed me so much. (Malachi 3:10) Daily I pray for his Kingdom to come and to remove all suffering from the earth. Since getting to know Jehovah, I can truthfully say: “The blessing of Jehovah—that is what makes rich, and he adds no pain with it.”—Proverbs 10:22.
[Pictures on page 13]
Giving a Bible talk; with my family and my brother