I have been the bivocational pastor of First Baptist Church of Christine (about an hour outside San Antonio) for almost seven years now. This is my first church to pastor, and it was unexpected. I never expected to pastor. I just wanted to tell people about the Lord. When they lost their pastor, First Baptist said, “Can you come and just fill in for a few weeks?” I said, “I can fill in. That’s no problem.” Well, one of the deacons came up to me and said, “You know what? You are staying here until I say you can leave.” Next thing you know, I’m voted in and ordained, and I’m still there. Some church members say they can hardly tell I’m blind.
When I was a young man, I felt a calling on my life. I stood up in the third grade on career day and told everyone I was going to be a preacher. One young man in the back said, “How can you be a preacher? They can’t understand you.” I had a speech impediment because of hearing loss. But I never let that discourage me because I knew who my Lord and Savior was, and my outlet was going to church. We went four times a week back in the ’70s, and I just loved the Lord.
In May of 1984, I made a sincere dedication to serve the Lord. I said, “Lord, I’m not going to fail you. I’m going to serve you 110%.” Not long after that, they told me that I could go blind. The diagnosis was retinitis pigmentosa. I’d never heard of that before, but I had made my commitment and said, “Well, Lord, I’m going to walk with you. I’m going to serve you all of my days.” God told me when I was 16 that He wanted me to preach, so I preached my first sermon at church at 16 years old.
A few years later, I was thinking, “Who’d want to marry a blind man?” and the Lord sent me
a wonderful lady from Mexico who came back with
a missionary we had sent there. I still had my eyesight, and I was looking at the church and said, “Wow, who is that?” A beautiful Latin American woman. I introduced myself and it wasn’t nine months later Yazmina and I married; we’ve been together now for 31 years. Later, God gave us a precious daughter, Priscilla, who is now 20.
I had begun to teach and lead in my church when my vision started to deteriorate. I couldn’t drive anymore. Things were just different in my life. And I thought, “Man, Lord, what am I going to do?” Couldn’t read the Bible like I once could, and I had to change my whole life around. I had to let go of the job that I worked very hard to get—I was an accountant, the controller for a law firm. That was a big step in our life. We moved to Colorado for a year and my wife worked up there … then the Lord brought us from Colorado to Texas and I finished up my book, On Top of My Mountain, just to tell people my testimony.
My vision has gone from blurry to shadows, and now all I see is light. Thank God for the light! Sometimes I hear the enemy saying, “You’re defective. You can’t see. You can’t hear. Now you have high blood pressure.” And the words out of my mouth are, “No, I’m not defective, but effective for the kingdom.”
That response has become my motto in my life. This is how I encourage people. Don’t let the enemy tell you anything, because Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I took that and began to share that message. Even today when I go to men’s events or people invite me to speak, I say, “I’m not defective, but effective. You’re not defective, but effective. God has a plan for your life.”
People are just amazed at what God can do with someone who has a disability like mine. You see, God doesn’t see disability. He sees ability. God sees me—not blind, but able to see. That’s the way the people are seeing me at my church. Sometimes they’ll forget that I’ll need a hand to get from the sanctuary to the fellowship hall, and then somebody will walk back and say, “Oh, pastor, we forgot you couldn’t see.” God has been so good to me, and the people are just receptive to what God has to say through me. And He does it. He really does it.
I’ve looked at the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and I tell people there’s no quit in the Bible. So don’t quit. You have to keep moving forward like Paul says: “… one thing that I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:13-14). A lot of times, we can get discouraged. I get discouraged, and the first thing we want to do when we get discouraged—we want to quit. In Galatians 6:9, it says don’t grow weary in well doing. Don’t grow weary, don’t get tired, don’t get frustrated. You’re doing well.
What’s my story? I’m a blind pastor who’s partially deaf, but not defective—I’m effective for my Lord!