It has been quite a year for a man originally from Glenlea, just north of Ste. Agathe. Greg Wiens has been a pastor for 21 years, serving Mennonite Brethren churches in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan. He left his post as lead minister in Waldheim, Saskatchewan six weeks ago to work fulltime for an organization called Global Vision 2020. Wiens explains 2.5 billion poor people in the world need eyeglasses and the organization, led by former U.S. Marine Kevin White, has found a quick and inexpensive way to fill that need.
"The device that my friend Kevin White invented is just an incredibly simple and brilliant invention. It's sort of like binoculars. You put it on your face, you dial it in and it finds your prescription. And then, we take that prescription and find the corresponding lens with pre-made lenses and frames and snap the lenses into place. The glasses are ready to wear in under ten minutes. And, it costs about $3 American to make these glasses."
He first learned of the organization nine years ago after reading about it in National Geographic. Wiens says he then had the same dream about it for three nights in a row, which he understood as a strong calling to get involved and to tie in the faith community.
"I had an extremely strong sense of a calling from God and I got in contact with the inventor and we just hit it off from that point on as good friends. I've been walking alongside and encouraging him for the last nine years until things really took off in the last year."
Last fall, along with MB (Mennonite Brethren) Mission, Wiens went to Myanmar to provide people with glasses. That effort helped Global Vision 2020 win a $1 million humanitarian award. He has since been offered a full-time job as director of faith-based relations, a job he started six weeks ago. As part of the work, Wiens is now travelling to places like Myanmar, the Middle East and Malawi to provide people with glasses.
Wiens is a graduate of Providence University/College and Canadian Mennonite University and considers southern Manitoba his home base. He adds he hopes to connect this home base to the work of Global Vision 2020.