This Week's Story

Vision is more than eyesight!

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

Big Footprints, part three

Recently I had cataract surgery. It has changed what I see every moment that I am awake. I expected that it would help me to see more clearly. It did not. Now I usually see a blur in front of my left eye. It is frustrating when I try to read music rapidly as I play the piano and teach. I am slower as I research and write for This Week’s Story! It is interesting that this has happened as I am writing about Vince Joy and thinking about: What is vision?

Before these challenges, I heard about an energetic and innovative missionary in the Copper River Valley. How he saw needs and solutions were far beyond literal 20/20 eye measurements.

I would like to share a hypothetical conversation that is typical of comments I have read and heard about the man…

“Bud, stop griping about Vince’s projects.”

“I’ll gripe, if that blocks him. His projects are impractical. They make complications for many people. He should stick to normal projects for a missionary.”

“You’re wrong! We need to consider what Vince Joy sees and what he believes should happen. Think of problems and solutions he has worked with.

“In the past many people in the Copper River Valley died from accidents that would not have resulted in death if we had had a doctor or hospital near to us. Kids left their homes and moved to Anchorage if they wanted a high school education. Many men and women had no opportunity to learn about Jesus or attend Bible studies. Electricity was unavailable.

“Now look around. What do you see? Since Vince came to the valley in 1937 he has worked on building chapels throughout the valley, bringing in local electricity, and beginning a Christian radio station. He’s enlisted support for a public high school in Glennallen. During almost twenty years he led in raising funds and staff for a hospital. He became a pilot and purchased a plane for emergency needs, despite opposition. We now have an excellent Bible school for our people and the natives have started the Native Bible Conference.”

“You talk good, but tell me, why can’t Vince be a normal guy, like me?”

“The best answer is what he says, ‘God gave me a job to share the good news about Jesus in the Copper River Valley of Alaska. He helps me to see needs and make plans. I know God expects them to happen.’”

“Huh, you agree with him because he helped you build your house and delivered your wife’s last child. Typically, his visions are fairy tales. They require money, people, and materials we do not have.”

“Bud, the answer is not what we do not have.

“When Vince came in 1937, people had all kinds of opinions about him. You’d hear, ‘What’s with this guy? The temperature can be thirty degrees below zero and he’s at my door, come to visit me and my family.’

“‘I got hurt in a hunting accident and my family needed wood chopped. He’s outside chopping wood for us.’

“Vince went to the people and they came to him. They saw that he never held himself above them. He shared and worked with them. They loved his wife Beckie, his son Jim, and daughter, Beckie Jean.

Vince Joy joyously lived vision. In 1966 Vince died of an inoperable brain disease. His footsteps remain. Lucille Brenwick of Copper Center in the Valley, wrote, “The people miss him so much even now. They say, ‘It’s not like when Vince was here.’ He gave them something they could grasp; it changed a lot of lives.”

This is Barbara Steiner. I hope you visit thisweeksstory.com.

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