Lights In The World ( Holding Forth The Word Of Life)
by Sewell Hall
In the early 1970’s a tall, intelligent, cultured young Englishman made his way to South Africa where job opportunities seemed more promising than in his homeland. By 1977, he was back in London totally and unexpectedly blind. Just before darkness descended on his physical eyes, however, he met the Lord who opened his spiritual eyes. Now, the ”Sun of righteousness” shines with ever-increasing brightness in his life.
In London, Peter Bentley searched out the disciples meeting in Kentish Town. The smallness of their number increased the warmth of their welcome and provided him with opportunity to use his talents as they developed. Charles T. and Sara ]ones, Americans employed in London, offered Peter frequent hospitality and constant encouragement.
As Peter discovered available aids for the blind, he used each one first in his pursuit of Bible knowledge. The church had the Bible in Braille and a Ghanian brother, who himself had been blind, transcribed the hymns into that medium for him. A tape recorder was next utilized to listen to Scripture, to sermons, and to commentaries which were available on tape. It was a happy day for Peter when he obtained a three dimensional map of the world and could trace with his eager fingers the mountains, rivers and borders of the ancient lands where God’s people lived their lives. Most remarkable of all his acquisitions was a scanner which magnifies and raises the letters of an ordinary book so that they can be felt and read with the fingers. It was evident that Peter considered it well worth his investment as he put it to use on W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words and exclaimed victoriously, “Now I can see it for myself.” From that point on, he began collecting a library of religious books.
An evangelist living thirty-five miles from London offered his assistance and Peter characteristically insisted on doing the traveling. Finishing his work as a hospital physio-therapist each Monday, he journeyed by underground to the railway terminal and then by train the seventy mile round trip. Assignments made the previous week were always prepared and most of the hours of study were spent discussing the numerous thought-provoking questions which he had carefully listed in Braille. During the months that this continued, the Old Testament was surveyed and many New Testament books studied in detail.
Public transportation plus a half-mile walk brought Peter to every service of the church. One snowy Sunday morning when most of London gave not one thought to attending worship, Peter was seen making his way with his white cane along the icy sidewalks to meet with the saints. A hardened London cabby, deeply impressed, stopped and provided him transportation, refusing to accept pay.
Peter’s increasing knowledge was put to work as opportunities were offered. Gradually, the depth of his
presentations increased. Now, he teaches the adult Sunday morning class and takes his turn effectively in the preaching rotation at Kentish Town. In addition, he preaches every other Sunday for a new congregation which meets on Sunday afternoons nearer his home.
From the beginning Peter has been meekly, yet firmly, independent. He contributes liberally and accepts no pay from the church for his services. He has not only purchased his own books and equipment, but he often provides for the needs of others. Now employed in the computer field, he supports his family—a wife whom he converted before he married her and their fine baby girl. He is living proof that one can still hold a job and at the same time develop a fine knowledge of the scriptures and exercise that knowledge in teaching others both publicly and privately. The major reason for his success is that he does not waste time with as many non—essentials as most of us do.
The handicap of blindness seems often to enable individuals to develop through physical weakness an
awareness of spiritual need. Those of us who see, need desperately to develop the attitude so beautifully manifested in Peter and so strikingly expressed by Fanny J. Crosby who was also blind:
Hold Thou my hand, so weak I am, and helpless, I dare not take one step without Thine aid;
Hold Thou my hand, for then, O loving Savior,No dread of ill shall make my soul afraid.
Hold Thou my hand, the way is dark before me Without the sunlight of Thy face divine;
But when by faith I catch its radiant glory, What heights of joy what rapturous songs are mine!
CHRISTIANITY MAGAZINE FEBRUARY, 1984