Columbia Union Healthcare Systems Help “Restore Sight in India”
Story by Taashi Rowe
Today at the Columbia Union Conference Executive Committee meeting, the presidents of the union’s two healthcare systems made a donation that will make a dramatic difference in the lives of hundreds, possibly thousands of visually impaired people in India.
William “Bill” G. Robertson, president of Adventist HealthCare based in Rockville, Md., and Fred Manchur, president of Kettering Adventist HealthCare based in Kettering, Ohio, donated $25,000 to the Ruby Nelson Memorial Hospital of Seventh-day Adventists in Punjab, India. One of the hospital’s missions is to help restore the vision of the millions of people in rural India who end up blind because they do not have access to a simple, 2-minute cataract surgery. The donation will help the hospital purchase a machine to do advanced cataract surgery.
Jacob Prabhakar Chindrupu, MD, medical director of the Ruby Nelson hospital, shared with the executive committee that there are 15 million blind people living in India alone. He shared that cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in his country and that with the right equipment, he and his team can perform up to 35 surgeries in one hour. The team has performed 10,000 surgeries in one year. But to Dr. Chindrupu, his work is about much more than helping improve his patients’ lives in a practical way, the surgeries are an opening wedge for he and his team to share Christ’s love.
“Some 97 percent of people in India are blind in a sense, because they don’t know Jesus,” he said. “Most are Hindus, Sikhs or belong to other faiths. But after every surgery, we give each patient a copy of Steps to Christ in their own language.”
Last year Adventist HealthCare donated a van to the hospital that allows them to do surgeries in remote areas. Because of the van, the team can now travel deep into the interior and set up a makeshift operating theater where they can perform up to 465 surgeries per day.
He also shared how he performed surgeries in a temple one day. “One of the priests told his devotees that we were performing magic,” Dr. Chindrupu, said. “We told them we don’t believe in magic but believe in a miracle-performing God. He asked us to pray for him and we did. We ended up doing Bible studies with him!”
Dave Weigley, president of the Columbia Union Conference who traveled to India with Robertson last year, said he invited Dr. Chindrupu to speak because he thought committee members would be “inspired by this ministry. We wanted you to learn why we are partnering with Dr. Jacob and see what he’s doing there. It’s a miracle how God uses him to help the poorest of the poor, people who don’t have acess to medical care.”
Dr. Chindrupu thanked the union, Adventist HealthCare and Kettering Adventist HealthCare for the donation, which he said will be a blessing to many. He also presented the leaders of the three organizations with a plaque that noted how this partnership was advancing the kingdom of God by “restoring sight in India.”
Photo 1: Jacob Prabhakar Chindrupu, MD, shows a video clip of one of his cataract surgeries.
Photo 2: Jacob Prabhakar Chindrupu, MD, presents a thank-you plaque to the Columbia Union’s three officers and the presidents of the union’s two healthcare systems.