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Blindness no obstacle for Southern Seminary student
January 24, 2005
By David Roach
Travis Freeman (left), who lost his sight at age 12, has not allowed his disability to prevent him from ministry and even from playing football.
Travis Freeman is a typical student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The 23-year-old spends most of his time studying in hopes of pastoring a church someday. He recently returned from a mission trip to Brazil, and he graduated from the University of Kentucky in December 2003, where he served as president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
But one thing sets Freeman apart from his fellow seminarians: he is completely blind. Freeman lost his sight at age 12 after a battle with cavernous sinus thrombosis. The disease claims the lives of 70 percent of its victims and renders the other 30 percent invalids, Freeman said. But by God's providence, Freeman became only the second person in the world known to have escaped from cavernous sinus thrombosis without suffering any damage beyond loss of vision.
In high school Freeman never let his visual impairment slow him down. He played four years of varsity football, lettering each year. As the center for Corbin High School, teammates would help line Freeman up and tell him where the defensive players were positioned. When the ball was snapped, he would block like any other offensive lineman.
Since the loss of his vision, Freeman has enjoyed numerous opportunities to tell others about the life-sustaining grace of Jesus Christ. During his senior year in high school and his freshman year in college, Freeman gave between 70 and 80 interviews to various news organizations and was featured in such publications as USA Today, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times. He also made television appearances on NBC's Today and Dateline NBC.
Going blind "was just something I accepted by the grace of God," the Corbin, Ky., native said. "I accepted it and was able to go on, and I said, 'God, I know You've got a plan. I know You want to use me, and I know that You're going to do something awesome in my life.' And I just kind of gave it to Him."
When he entered the University of Kentucky, Freeman planned to spend his life working in the field of sports management. But during a spring break trip his sophomore year, God called Freeman to devote his life to vocational ministry.
"God started telling me, 'You've got to give your future to Me,'" he said. "Finally one morning I was having my quiet time and God said, 'It's either Me or nothing. So I gave it to Him.' Shortly thereafter I was reading in Acts … and felt God leading me to be a pastor."
In the spring of 2004, Freeman enrolled at Southern to pursue a master of divinity degree in order to equip himself for ministry.
"Southern was open and ready for a visually impaired student," he said. "I just really felt this was where God wanted me. I knew God was going to do something awesome."
When Freeman graduates from seminary in three years, he hopes to pastor a local congregation.
Being blind "could have a very positive impact [in the pastorate], or it possibly could have a negative impact," Freeman said. "If I have a church with people who have a hard time accepting that I am blind … that could be a problem. But yet that could also be an opportunity for me to be able to minister to them.
"I think I'll be able to do the same thing that any normal pastor does. It may be a little different at times. … But there's no doubt in my mind that it can be done."