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Legally blind, he helps others truly see God

LOUISVILLE, Ky (BP)–His evangelism touches lives. His music portrays a majestic God. His guitar playing brings joy to all who hear. And through the grace of God Travis Peterson accomplishes these things despite being unable to see.
Born legally blind, Peterson has a rare eye disease that limits his ability to sense light. Though he can see light and dark contrasts, the master of divinity student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., still must use a cane or the preferable “seeing eye person,” as he terms it.
A native of Dongola, Ill., Peterson does not allow his inability to inhibit his work for God: “Scripture tells us that God’s strength is shown to be perfect in our weakness. God is shown to be strong using weak vessels. As I began to understand these things, I didn’t even look in any negative light on the issue,” he said.
Being blind often opens doors for evangelism that would otherwise remain closed: “God uses it to put me into situations other people can’t get into. God uses it to touch people in ways that other people can’t touch people. People pay attention to me when they may not pay attention to somebody else,” he explained.
This happened as Peterson and some friends witnessed to a man in a wheelchair. He tried to give a girl in the group a hard time. “You could tell what was coming was the ‘You’re going to tell me you have a loving God, well look at my life,’” Peterson said. Seizing the opportunity, he intentionally dropped his folded cane just as he turned to talk with the man. Then he could share the Christian message with the man because his argument was diffused before it began.
Playing the guitar for only five years now, Peterson employs it as his favorite method of ministry in various informal praise and prayer groups at Southern Seminary and in churches too. His songs not only delight the ear, but they also reflect his desire to disciple. “There’s no way I could just be a musician without being a teacher,” Peterson said. “I have a passion for teaching God’s people truth — a passion for teaching solid, clear, right, biblical doctrine.”
Peterson often combines these two goals in his songs: “If people call me to go do music somewhere, and I don’t get to preach, the least I can do is give a song that will teach. If I think there’s a theological point people tend to miss, I’ll write a song about it.”
When convicted that too many Christians selfishly focus on what God can do for them rather than praising God himself, Peterson wrote the song “Immutable Infinity.” Some of the lyrics are: “We try to tell You that our love for You is true/But that must be a lie if our love is based on what You do.”
Struggling with his purpose in life, Peterson said that God pointed him to Matthew 22:37-40, where Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart and soul. From this passage, Peterson wrote a song titled “Way that you love me.” The chorus says, “I’ve spent so much of my time looking around, trying to find what You want me to do/Through all of my searching this is what I’ve found; my purpose in life is loving you.”
Though not in full-time church ministry, Peterson said he enjoys working in a Christian discipleship program, street evangelism projects and even ministering to other seminary students. “The Bible says, ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.’ We spend a lot of time sharpening each other,” he explained.
However, Peterson sees nothing extraordinary in his ministry. “Though my ministry takes no special effort from me — no special attitude — people are touched by it because God challenges people through it,” he said.
While Peterson ponders the idea of being healed, he said such is desirable only if it glorifies God. And he quipped that if God chooses to restore his sight, he hopes the Lord will wait “at least until I’m out of school because otherwise I won’t be able to afford it.”

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  • Bryan Cribb