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Blind student leads others to spiritual sight

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–I don’t have time. I’m too busy. I’m scared of rejection. I don’t know what to say. The excuses not to evangelize are abundant.

“Excuse” is not in Roger Brannon’s vocabulary.

And of all people, the 42-year-old Southern Baptist Theological Seminary student might have reason to remain uninvolved. Congenital glaucoma left Brannon blind at age 25. But he doesn’t allow his visual impairment to keep him from his passion — sharing the gospel with the spiritually blind.

“I myself am physically blind. But worse than that, there are people who are spiritually blind and who don’t know the Gospel, don’t know Jesus Christ,” said Brannon, a master of divinity student and Tallahassee, Fla., native.

Each week, Brannon puts this passion into practice through the Southern Evangelistic Teams [SET]. The teams engage in initiative evangelism every Saturday, sharing the gospel on the streets and in the neighborhoods of Louisville.

“Roger consistently is involved in our weekly outreaches,” said Mark Swan, a student leader of SET. “Roger just has a real zeal to share the gospel. Roger doesn’t see his blindness as a handicap. But, he just really embraces that. And the testimony of losing his eyesight through the glaucoma and just God’s faithfulness of being there with him through that is a great narrative to share with people.”

Brannon’s faithfulness to share God’s grace bore fruit in earlier this year. While witnessing door-to-door, Brannon and his SET team partner encountered three people sitting on their front porch.

Using the FAITH evangelism presentation, Brannon asked the individuals what they believed to be “the way to heaven.” After sharing how the Bible answered that question, he asked them if they would like to receive Jesus as Savior.

“God brought three people into His kingdom that day through what I would consider to be an inadequate … vessel,” Brannon said. “I was just overjoyed.”

That same day, a second team led a fourth person to Christ.

“Heaven is rejoicing fourfold,” a beaming Brannon said.

Indeed, Brannon’s joyous smiles and evangelistic enthusiasm serves to inspire the other team members as well.

“Roger always has a smile,” said Swan, a master of divinity student from Euclid, Ohio. “He’s always in a great mood. He’s always very positive. … Roger is just a real encouragement for everybody on the team.”

SET director Randy Hommel agrees.

“He’s not only encouraging to people on the evangelism teams but also to the people who are out on the street and don’t know him,” said Hommel, a master of divinity student from Kingsport, Tenn.

Brannon’s boldness and zeal motivates team members to continue even when the evangelistic fires wane.

“Roger doesn’t allow his being blind (to hinder evangelism), and we shouldn’t allow handicaps or tough times to keep us from still being obedient to the Great Commission,” Swan said.

Swan remembers mornings when he hasn’t felt well and wanted to stay in bed rather than go out with the SET teams.

“But I might roll over and think about Roger,” Swan said. “… [And I think], ‘Hey, Roger’s going to be there. Should I allow this to keep me from going out and sharing the gospel?'”

In fact, Brannon’s obedience to the Great Commission epitomizes the goals of SET as a whole.

“First and foremost, what we’re trying to do is fulfill the Great Commission,” Hommel said. “And being in agreement with Matthew 28:19-20 does not equal compliance. … Roger epitomizes this in that regard … by going. He’s making himself available. I think that’s the biggest sin that most people do — we don’t make ourselves available.”

This availability should not be limited by real or perceived weaknesses.

“God just asks that we make ourselves available,” Hommel explained. “We’ve seen a lot of people come to the Lord this past semester — people who would not have come had we not made ourselves available.”

SET teams saw God bring 15 people to Himself during spring semester.

A recent event demonstrates Brannon’s willingness to go.

Swan had met an elderly man during a SET outreach who was losing his sight because of diabetes.

“This man was very, very upset,” Swan said. “He was very discouraged. He was very bitter towards God.”

Brannon volunteered to write the man a letter. In it, Brannon shared his testimony, and he told how God’s grace had proved sufficient.

Later, Brannon and Swan visited the man. However, he recognized the two and slammed the door in their faces. Despite this rejection, Brannon and Swan believe God is working on the man’s heart.

“We’re still praying for him,” Swan said.

The event also illustrates Brannon’s special calling — to reach the visually impaired.

“If I find out that there is somebody who is visually impaired who doesn’t know Jesus Christ, I want to be able to reach that person especially,” Brannon said. “… My calling is now to seek to pioneer the concept of missions to the blind.”

He also hopes his future and present ministries will encourage other Christians not to allow anything to keep them from the Great Commission task.

“I would like for people to be able to watch me and say, ‘If God can use somebody who’s blind and has every reason and excuse not to become involved to do God’s kingdom work and to be a witness … who am I to say he can’t use me?'”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: ROGER BRANNON.

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  • Bryan Cribb