Matthew Visuvasan, 66, was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a debilitating eye condition, in 2012. Matthew, who worked as a teacher’s aide at Anglo-Chinese School (Junior), realised then it was hereditary as his late father had suffered from blindness.
Matthew’s vision issues slowly compounded as he became colour blind. He was referred to the Eagle Eye Centre where Dr Julian Theng, the father of one of his students, went out of his way to help Matthew and he underwent eye cataract surgery.
Even with the operation, Matthew’s condition did not improve and he soon found himself losing his night vision. Eventually stricken with night blindness, he was forced to retire earlier than he expected.
Matthew was only 58 when he lost his livelihood. It was extremely tough on Matthew as he was the family’s sole breadwinner. His wife was a homemaker while their two children were polytechnic students.
Matthew broke down and cried for many days because of his financial situation. He had some savings, but they were not enough. He felt lost and stranded. Yet despite the dark times, he took comfort in the verse from Hebrews 13:5 which contain a promise from God that He would never leave or forsake him.
However, God was with Matthew all the while. As one door closed, He opened another through the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH). Through the SAVH day-care centre, Matthew re-learnt everyday activities, such as recognising currency notes through touch and learning where and how to place his utensils.
Matthew also received encouragement and help, not only from SAVH volunteers and staff, but also from members from his home church, Cairnhill Methodist Church. His church mates would bless his family by buying and delivering groceries as well as giving him lifts home. Matthew felt comforted that his church family kept a lookout for him.
Meanwhile, the Lord constantly provided for Matthew through monetary aid from different organisations that often came in time to alleviate his financial pressures.
Matthew shared that although his eyes have not got any better despite regular medical intervention, God has sustained his poor eyesight for the past six years in contrast to many with similar eye conditions who have totally lost their vision, some within a year.
“During the difficult times, I go to the Lord and draw closer to Him. I cannot read the Bible, but I have a hearing device to listen to the audio Bible. As I approach the Lord, I feel joy and see wonderful things, that the angels of the Lord are with me wherever I go. That is when I feel closest to God,” Matthew testified.
“There was once the Lord prompted Hebrews 13:5 to comfort me. ‘Never will I leave you or forsake you’ is the verse that I hold on to till today.”
In parting, Matthew would like to encourage others who are going through tough situations. He said, “When one is desolate, you can get depressed easily and the thoughts can kill. Ask the Lord to overcome the evil one, to overcome your unbelief and take out all those negative thoughts. Be strong, take courage, have confidence and you can overcome. Run to God, for He is where you can find peace that surpasses all understanding.”
Ashley Ho is the Social Media Executive at MCS Comms. / Photo courtesy of Matthew Visuvasan