In the large Indian city of Allahabad, where the holy rivers of Ganges and Yamuna join into one, and where thousands of pilgrims pay their respects each year, there once lived a young Hindu. He was a poor man with a pitiable appearance and a pockmarked face, and he was blind. A serious illness in early childhood had stolen his sight, forcing him to live the many years since in darkness.
One day, a missionary stopped him on the street, asking, “Do you know who the Lord Jesus is?”
“I heard His name once, a long time ago,” answered the blind man, “but please tell me more.”
Happy to oblige, the missionary began telling his rapt, young listener the old and yet ever new story of the Son of God who came to earth to save sinners. He continued, describing with passion and warmth the good shepherd who seeks the lost until he finds them.
While the missionary was speaking, a visible change came over the blind man’s face, his disfigured features beautified by a joyful smile. As this glorious news reached his ear, the love of God began to dawn in his heart, driving out the darkness of superstition as the morning sun beats back the black night. The poor, blind man was surprisingly quick to grasp the message.
“Oh,” he cried when the missionary had finished, “I need to belong to Him. Yes, I belong to Him! I want to be baptized. No longer do I want to bear my old name. I want to be called David. Just like David, I want to sing of His love and grace.”
He said this because the missionary had also talked about David, the psalmist king of ancient times, who had said and sung so many glorious things about the coming, heavenly King. That was the kind of person our young Indian friend wanted to be.
From this day on, the blind man could often be found with his teacher. In the eyes of the people, he was still the poor, pitiable man of the past, but in reality, he had become a new, different person. Of course, he stayed blind but his spiritual eyes had been opened wide. He had glimpsed God’s holiness, and what he had seen caused his heart to overflow with joy.
Every day, he visited the missionary to get his “daily bread”—not for his body but for his soul: a passage from the Word of God that his teacher read out loud to him and that he could think about all day.
One morning, he met the missionary as usual but looked very troubled. This was so out of the ordinary that his friend noticed immediately and asked what was wrong. “Oh, sir,” said David, as he had chosen to be known since the day of his salvation, “I wish I could read!”
“But David,” replied the missionary with surprise, “why would you wish for something impossible? After all, you’re blind.”
“Yes, that is true,” replied David, “but I have heard about an alphabet that blind people can read, and there is even supposed to be a Bible written in this alphabet. Do you know more about it?”
The missionary did, but he saw no way to get such an expensive Bible for his impoverished student. He therefore thought it best to talk him out of the idea rather than to raise his hopes for something that was, at best, highly unlikely to happen. But David was not deterred. “Sir,” he asked touchingly, “won’t you pray with me that my Heavenly Father will send me His book and teach me how to read it?”
The missionary was unable to refuse. They knelt down together and prayed, although, as the missionary later confessed, with little faith on his part.
Three months passed. David still came day after day to get his “daily bread,” but he never mentioned his wish again.
One morning, the missionary was sitting on his porch when he suddenly heard rapid footsteps beating their way up his stairs. His door starting shaking as someone knocked loud and fast, and a voice called out, trembling with excitement, “Are you there, sir?”
“Yes, what is the matter?”
David entered, his excitement palpable. “Sir,” he cried, “someone on the street just pressed this package into my hand and said, ‘You poor, blind boy, I have long felt drawn to you. Here is something for you. I hope it will be a blessing.’ What could it be, sir? Open it, quickly, please!”
The missionary cut through the twine, expecting to find a gift of clothing or the like, but to his surprise, the wrapping fell away to reveal a book entitled “The Gospel of John in Braille!” He could hardly believe his eyes, and there are no words to describe the joy of the blind man when he realized what he had received. “I knew it,” he rejoiced, “I knew that my Heavenly Father would answer my prayer if I waited patiently! It is my Father’s book, His own gift!” With that, he hugged the Gospel against himself and kissed it, long and fervently.
The two men first fell on their knees to thank the Lord for this new proof of His love, and then David got straight to work, learning how to read. The joy and love he brought to the task helped him progress quickly, and in a relatively short time, he had passed the greatest hurdles and was able to read his precious book, albeit slowly.
One day—he was already reading fluently—he came to his teacher and said, “I can read now. But I don’t want to keep all the wonderful things I learn every day to myself. There are hundreds of people here who need this book as much as I do.”
And do you know what he did next? The following morning, he tied his book around his neck, went out into the street, and began to run his index finger over the lines, reading aloud with a raised voice. One of the first verses he read was, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”
We can imagine the stir this caused. A blind man reading aloud in the street was a rare sight. The novelty drew a large audience, but most people were just listening out of curiosity, and many made fun of him. But that did not deter him. He was content to know that he was helping people hear the Word of God.
His love to the Lord and his desire to witness for Him did not wane. After some time, David dedicated himself to the service of the Lord full-time. He went from one place to the next, reading God’s Word wherever he was. Eventually, he became a reader in an institute for the blind and helped many of his fellow sufferers find their way to believing in the Lord Jesus and to becoming happy children of God.
Is there anyone not touched by this story? I think it has something special to say to each and every one of us. To one, it says, “Jesus, the good shepherd, left His life for you too,” and to another, “If this poor, blind Hindu found a way to serve his Lord, should you not be able to find one, too?”