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Blindness no obstacle to his response to God’s call

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Travis Freeman is a 23-year-old Southern Baptist Theological Seminary student preparing to pastor a church someday. He went on a mission trip to Brazil last summer. At the University of Kentucky, where he graduated in December 2003, he was president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

But one thing sets Freeman apart from his fellow seminarians: He is completely blind.

Freeman lost his sight at age 12 after a battle with cavernous sinus thrombosis, which he described as a disease that claims the lives of 70 percent of its victims and renders the other 30 percent invalids. But by God’s providence, Freeman became only the second person in the world known to have escaped from cavernous sinus thrombosis without suffering any damage beyond loss of vision.

In high school Freeman never let his visual impairment slow him down. He played four years of varsity football, lettering each year. As the center for Corbin High School, teammates would help line Freeman up and tell him where the defensive players were positioned. When the ball was snapped, he would block like any other offensive lineman.

Since the loss of his vision, Freeman has enjoyed numerous opportunities to tell others about the life-sustaining grace of Jesus Christ. During his senior year in high school and his freshman year in college, Freeman gave between 70 and 80 interviews to various news organizations and was featured in such publications as USA Today, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times. He also made television appearances on NBC’s “Today” and “Dateline NBC.”

Going blind “was just something I accepted by the grace of God,” Freeman said. “I accepted it and was able to go on, and I said, ‘God, I know you’ve got a plan. I know you want to use me, and I know that you’re going to do something awesome in my life.’ And I just kind of gave it to Him.”

When he entered the University of Kentucky, Freeman planned to spend his life working in the field of sports management. But during a spring break trip his sophomore year, God called Freeman to devote his life to vocational ministry.

“God started telling me, ‘You’ve got to give your future to me,’” Freeman recounted. “Finally one morning I was having my quiet time and God said, ‘It’s either Me or nothing. So I gave it to Him.’ Shortly thereafter I was reading in Acts … and felt God leading me to be a pastor.”

In the spring of 2004, Freeman enrolled at Southern to pursue a master of divinity degree in order to equip himself for ministry.

“Southern was open and ready for a visually impaired student,” Freeman said. “I just really felt this was where God wanted me. I knew God was going to do something awesome.”

Freeman experienced the joy of ministry firsthand during his summer trip to Brazil, sharing Bible stories with public school students in the impoverished city of Salvador. During the trip, which was a part of the World Changers ministry of the North American Mission Board, Freeman and his 50 traveling companions had the opportunity to share the Word of God with more than 5,000 Brazilians.

“It was a life-changing experience to work with people who have nothing,” Freeman said. “We saw several people pray to receive Christ.”

When Freeman graduates from seminary in three years, he hopes to pastor a local congregation.

Being blind “could have a very positive impact [in the pastorate] or it possibly could have a negative impact,” Freeman said. “If I have a church with people who have a hard time accepting that I am blind … that could be a problem. But yet that could also be an opportunity for me to be able to minister to them.

“I think I’ll be able to do the same thing that any normal pastor does. It may be a little different at times…. But there’s no doubt in my mind that it can be done.”