As most of you probably know I was in Jamaica last week on a ministry trip. I truly was blessed to have met so many warm, friendly people. Even though Jamaica is a beautiful country, it is also ridden with poverty, chaos, and lack of vision. I can tell you that I am absolutely more thankful than ever for grocery stores, paved roads, and even government!

But Jamaicans aren't the only ones who suffer with these conditions. Even as blessed as we are in the United States, there are still many people who live with poverty mindsets, no structure or self-discipline (chaos), and no direction or vision for their lives. Like many of the people that I saw on the streets in Jamaica they live day to day with little hope of things ever being any different in their lives. And even if things could get better, they have no clue as to how to make it happen. I used a story from the Bible about Bartimaeus during the ministry sessions to help them see (pun intended) that no matter how dark things may be, if we are willing to come to Jesus and let Him direct our lives, not only is vision and hope restored, our joy is restored as well.

In case you aren't familiar with this story I'll give you a condensed version. bartimaeus was a blind man who made his living by sitting on the side of the road begging. This was a familiar scene in Jamaica; many people not only asked for handouts, they expected them. And many people suffer from cataracts and other visual conditions because of poor health and bright sunlight. One day as Bartimaeus was sitting on his cloak asking people to help him, he heard that Jesus was coming his way. I feel sure that Bartimaeus had heard about the healings that Jesus had performed and so he began to cry out Mark 10:46 The people didn't care at all for this behavior and so they told Bartimaeus to be quiet. But instead of quieting down, Bartimaeus cried even louder, "JESUS, HAVE MERCY ON ME." Suddenly Jesus stopped and told the people to bring Bartimaeus to Him. The blind beggar jumped up, threw off his cloak, and came with BLIND FAITH to Jesus! Mark 10:46

The reason I say it was blind faith is that Bartimaeus came to Jesus while He was still blind, not knowing if Jesus would do anything for him or not. He threw caution to the wind when he threw off his cloak, because that cloak was actually his "license" to beg on the street. Bartimaeus stepped out believing that in spite of his condition, Jesus could help him. And you know what? He did!

When Bartimaeus finally made his way to Him, Jesus asked a seemingly strange question, "What do you want?" Why on earth did He do that? It should have been obvious that Bartimaeus needed his eyes healed, but Jesus wanted Bartimaeus to voice his request.

Bartimaeus said, "I want to see."

Jesus said, "Go, your FAITH has healed you."

I'm sure that physical sight was of supreme importance to Bartimaeus, but because he had been a blind beggar all of his life, I'll just bet he also needed some spiritual direction and a new vision for his life. You see, when he gave up begging, he gave up his livelihood and the only thing he had ever known to do. So not only was he in need of physical site, he needed his spiritual eyes opened as well.