God is good and keeps us moving forward! Wheelchair collection continues across the country. Since the last update, we have added groups in Rockingham, North Carolina, and Columbus, Ohio to the group team! Wheelchairs and other equipment continue to be collected to benefit the people of Guatemala through the distributions with Bethel Ministries International (BMI).
On His Path has progressed with yet another amazing project to help the wheelchair ministry of BMI in Guatemala. For several years now, John Mitchell, founder of On His Path, has worked with Chris Mooney and Saul Chopin of BMI to develop a cost effective reclining wheelchair.
These specialty chairs are a rare find in our collections at Mission: Mobility. They can be purchased but at a cost starting around $2,000/chair. Over the years, different ideas have been talked of until the final solution was decided – make one!
This past September, Saul came to Iowa to refine the design. He spent the week in the MD Orthopaedics shop with Marcus Powell, CAD Designer, and Andy Smith, Operations Manager, who were also recent mission trip team members with BMI, tweaking the design until they were satisfied with the final product. Many hours were spent on this project.
Overall, they simplified the design, eliminating expensive and fragile cables that the expensive chairs use to make the adjustments on the chair. They also adjusted design elements using the AutoCAD program. Marcus and others at MD are in the process of making welding templates that will be shipped to Guatemala on the next container. The container will also carry other tools and equipment that will make the production of this chair more efficient. In the end, some of the smaller parts will be cut by local vendors in Iowa and then shipped to Guatemala on the containers. The main frames of the chairs will be made of tube steel that will be purchased in Guatemala. The seats and cushions will be made at the BMI workshop. The entire chair will be constructed and then assembled at the BMI workshop which helps to assure jobs for the shop employees.
Saul took the prototype home with him as checked luggage so he could show this to the others at BMI. Saul anticipates they will produce 100 or more of the chairs each year with an estimated cost of $100/ chair. This truly is a PRAISE! When Saul and I were and Marcus came to Guatemala this summer on a mission trip, they SAW and EXPERIENCED what we were doing. It created a fire in them to help with this project!” Amen!
It is always a joy to see how God works inside the members of mission trip teams and how they use their abilities and gifts to continue serving even after they are home. What a treat it was to see this entire project come together!
Ultimately, this project is not about the wheelchair – it is about providing the opportunity for BMI to share the Gospel to those they serve. The kids who receive the new chairs won’t know where Iowa is or who Marcus, Andy, or On His Path are – they won’t care. What they WILL know is this gift of mobility came from God and in turn, PRAISE HIM FOR IT!
Submitted by Rick Fulton, Mission: Mobility Volunteer