“We really need an ophthalmologist, one who specializes in disease of the eyes in children.”
Ophthalmologist Dave Klink speaks through an interpreter to a patient visiting the makeshift eye clinic. Klink, of River Oak Church in Chesapeake, Va., shared the Gospel with patients while treating their eyes and fitting them with glasses donated by churches in the U.S.
The request by missionary Teresa Flora was hard for pediatric ophthalmologist Dave Klink to ignore, since he had been praying about how the Lord might want him to serve.
Klink, who is also a neuro-ophthalmologist and served for 28 years with the U.S. Navy, listened as Teresa spoke by Skype with a small group at River Oak Church in Chesapeake, Va., who were interested in an international mission trip. The church has a partnership with Teresa and her husband Jim in the southern African country of Lesotho, working with the Basotho people.
As Teresa, a registered nurse, described the eye diseases that were threatening village children with blindness, Klink knew he could help.
Teresa could see the tears in Klink’s eyes as he answered over Skype, “You’ve been praying for an ophthalmologist? That would be me.”
The condition that the children, as well as adults, face is vernal conjunctivitis, which can lead to vision loss and even blindness if untreated. The harsh climate, high elevation and constant exposure to smoke over cooking fires are constant irritants.
Pediatric and neuro-ophthalmologist Dave Klink (left) and dentist Leon Cerniway remove a large cyst from behind a boy’s ear during a mission trip to the country of Lesotho in southern Africa. The surgery took place on missionaries Jim and Teresa Flora’s dining room table.
On his first trip to Lesotho in 2013, Klink identified 22 children with vernal conjunctivitis and treated them with eye drops he brought from the U.S. In addition to fitting people of all ages with much-needed glasses, he took time to stop, pray and share through an interpreter that what the people really need is a relationship with Jesus Christ.
On his second trip in 2014, Klink was able to do some follow-up exams and track his patients’ progress. “I’ve seen a couple of the kids I had treated last year. They are doing really well.”
His time in Lesotho isn’t easy. In addition to the long trip first to South Africa then driving into the mountains of Lesotho, his group hauls heavy equipment and cases of medicine and eye glasses, sets up clinics in dusty schoolrooms or dark huts, travels by horse into villages with no roads and works into the evenings. One night after supper at the missionaries’ house, Klink, assisted by a dentist on the team, removed a growth from behind a boy’s ear.
Teresa continues to rejoice that Klink is a partner in the ministry. “He is the most humble man I’ve ever met,” she said. “He loves the Lord with all his heart. And he steps out of his world into my world. He will work hours upon hours, loving people, touching people and being a part in God’s healing in their lives.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Marie Curtis is a writer and editor for IMB.)