January 3, 2020

Lighting the Darkness

For 120 years Christian Record Services has been focusing on Jesus and His Word.

Diane Thurber

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them” (Isa. 42:16).

Christian Record Services for the Blind serves individuals who are blind and has done so for 120 years. The ministry was founded when the Holy Spirit impressed 27-year-old Austin O. Wilson, blind since the age of 9, to begin printing Christian Braille resources for blind people. It continues to offer materials and programs that “empower people who are blind to engage their communities and embrace the blessed hope.”

Through this ministry and the body of Christ, God chooses to fulfill the promises of Isaiah 42:16 and assure His children who are blind that they are needed, gifted, treasured, and never forsaken.

46 2
Bobby Canvanaugh rode horses as a child at one of Christian Record Services camps for the blind. As a young adult, horseback riding has not lost its allure.

Growing in Jesus

Carol Anne Chambers has received services since 2015, when she and her parents were searching for stories about Jesus in Braille. Born prematurely, weighing only one pound six ounces, Carol Anne, now 34, has been blind since birth and is mildly autistic. She lives with her parents, who provide the care and support she needs.

One of Carol Anne’s greatest joys is reading the Braille magazine
Children’s Friend, which includes stories about outdoor adventures, missionary endeavors, peer pressure, health, and the Bible. This Braille magazine has been produced and distributed by Christian Record since 1937.

Carol Anne’s mother, Karen, wrote, “My daughter receives
The Children’s Friend and loves them! She looks forward to receiving them in the mail. She is totally blind, but loves to walk to the set of mailboxes at the end of our block to see what might be there for her. She snatches it out of our box like a treasure and clutches on to it with her right arm while holding onto me with her left as we make a trek around our neighborhood and back to our house.

Her mother added: “Carol Anne loves to read, although it is rare to find publications that are Christian at her third-grade level of comprehension. She has so grown in her interest in God’s Word through these
Children’s Friend magazines.”

Carol Anne reads
The Children’s Friend out loud to her mother from the kitchen table. “She finds the stories encouraging, knowing that there are kids who want to please God first in their lives,” wrote Karen.

She is determined to read a devotional for her mother and father, too, and does so after their Sunday dinner each week. “She reads one chapter of her Braille Bible that you sent her. We follow along in the print . . . all at the kitchen table. We have never [before] had a devotion at all in our 35 years of marriage.” Carol Anne finished reading the book of Matthew in Braille, then started Mark; additional books of the Bible will be sent to her from Christian Record as requested.

Carol Anne also received
The Invitation, by Alejandro Bullón, in Braille. The Invitation shares steps to building a relationship with Christ in story form. Her mother was uncertain whether the book’s content would be truly meaningful to or understood by Carol Anne, since “it is a big book and full of adult words and stories,” she said. But Carol Anne was determined to read it, and did so as her mother worked in the kitchen.

Her mother shared her surprise: “What wonderful stories! She had to reread the first story to her dad on his day off work. . . . Carol Anne has already called her blind friend about it and is going to let her read it next.”

We are excited to see the Lord working in the life of Carol Anne’s family as she shares what she is learning with her parents. God is leading Carol Anne to the assurances of His faithfulness found in His Word as she receives and reads Christian resources from Christian Record.

46 3

Recommitment to Jesus

Robert “Bobby” Cavanaugh was 9 years old when he first attended a camp sponsored by National Camps for Blind Children (NCBC), a Christian Record program that began in 1967. He said, “I had so much fun at camp. I cried when it was time to go home. I was sad the week was over, and I was going to miss my friends.”

Bobby returned to camp a few more summers, but eventually stopped attending when the NCBC blind camp in his area was no longer offered.

Fast-forward a few years. The camp chose to partner with NCBC again. Now 24, Bobby decided to attend camp again. Once more he said, “I think I might cry this time, too. I just wish I could see my friends all the time.”

Bobby works part-time, testing new technology for people who are blind. He lives with his parents and uses public transportation, but it is still difficult to meet up with friends. The social outlets for people who are blind are not always the same as those for the sighted, and transportation can be a challenge. Even in adulthood, Bobby continues to appreciate the opportunities camp offers for fellowship, activity, and support.

Though Bobby was raised in a Christian home, he no longer has that spiritual influence in his life. At camp, Bobby can grow in his journey with Jesus in a natural setting where he can have spiritual conversations with caring, supportive staff, and participate in meaningful worship services that highlight the blessings of a relationship with Jesus. Last summer Bobby was one of five campers at the camp he attended who chose to recommit his life to Jesus.

Bobby also learns more about his abilities as he tries new adventures at his blind camp, which offers such activities as horseback riding, go-carts, swimming, archery, boating, zipline, and rockwall climbing. The experiences campers have each summer bring joy throughout the year, too, as they reflect on the positive memories and remain in contact with friends from camp, both old and new. This is significant because many who are blind share that they are lonely.

A recent study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), titled “Loneliness Among Adults With Visual Impairment,”
1 confirms that 48.4 percent of people who are legally blind experience moderate to severe loneliness. It has been noted in another study by the NIH, titled “Social Isolation, Loneliness in Older People Pose Health Risks,”2 that social isolation and loneliness are linked to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, even death.

Through the programs and services provided by Christian Record to individuals often marginalized and forgotten by their own families, churches, and communities, people who are blind are reminded that they are not alone. Doors of opportunity are opened to them. The darkness they may experience in life is lessened. Quality of life is improved. They are given a glimpse of the One who promises never to forsake them, the One who will return on that day “when every eye will see him” (Rev. 1:7).

It’s easy to brighten the path of someone who is blind. Befriend people in your community and open your heart and home for fellowship. Refer people who are blind to Christian Record to receive services, or partner with Christian Record so more can benefit from life-changing, confidence-building resources and programs.

Interested individuals may visit the website, crsb.org; e-mail [email protected]; or call 402-488-0981.

  1. Audun Brunes, Marianne B. Hansen, and Trond Heir, Loneliness Among Adults With Visual Impairment: Prevalence, Associated Factors, and Relationship to Life Satisfaction, Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30709406, published online Feb. 1, 2019.
  2. Social Isolation, Loneliness in Older People Pose Health Risks, National Institute on Aging, www.nia.nih.gov/news/social-isolation-loneliness-older-people-pose-health-risks, published online Apr. 23, 2019.

Diane Thurber, president, Christian Record Services, Inc., with Christian Record staff. Based in Lincoln, Nebraska, Christian Record Services for the Blind serves approximately 17,000 people in North America and around the world.