From Mobility to Eternity

by | Apr 12, 2018

MH4H staff visiting the PET workshop team in Leighton, IA

What if I told you God could use hobbies to change the world for thousands of people? What if I told you there were 60-year-old volunteers with more passion for serving than thousands of 30-year-olds working for a living? What if I told you there were men and women from entirely different backgrounds, of different generations, and with different physical abilities, all called to touch each other’s lives with the incredible love of Christ? Let me introduce you to my friends and partners at Mobility Worldwide in Leighton, IA.

If you follow Pete Verhey around for any length of time, he can’t help but start talking to you about Personal Energy Transportation (P.E.T.) carts. Pete was a long-time, successful banker, rising to be the President of Marion County Bank in Pella, IA. After retiring, Pete realized many of his retired friends had very little purpose and passion in this phase of life. Sure, they could have coffee time and talk about the weather, but there had to be more to retirement. Being a long-time woodworker, he found an organization making handicapped carts for disabled people in the developing world. He started to dabble in this and realized his friends were interested. After a bit of time, they bought an abandoned elementary school building and created a workshop destination for retired people. This workshop would serve to build carts, create community for retirees, and bless people around the world.

“I had no idea the floodgates God would open to use this program to…bring eternity for so many people.”

In 2012, Many Hands was introduced to the young son of Roberto, the painter of Pella Christian School of Pignon. Roberto’s son had club feet and could not walk. After some discussion, we decided to fly one child P.E.T. cart into Pignon and give it to this boy. He loved it! We then had one of our Haitian friends conduct a survey of the need in our area for this type of wheelchair cart. He came back and said, “Hundreds. It would be endless.”  Believing this wasn’t our calling, we handed this information to our local hospital, thinking it would be better for a medical facility to handle this type of ministry. We thought the story would end there, but God certainly had other plans.

 

Roberto, the first MH4H PET Cart recipient

For over a year, the project didn’t gain any traction with the hospital. It just spun, hitting multiple snags and hang-ups to move forward. At the same time, we ran into a nine-year-old boy named Khaki. Doing food deliveries with a short-term mission team, we learned of Khaki’s story and his mother’s desire for Khaki to walk again. Lucia Van Maanen, one of our Iowa-based leaders, wasn’t taking no for an answer as to why we couldn’t get Khaki a P.E.T. cart. Making all the arrangements herself, she flew it in via MFI and we delivered the cart to Khaki. Again, it changed his life.

(To watch Khaki’s amazing story, CLICK HERE.)

Pete and the team at Mobility Worldwide were committed to seeing this through in Haiti. After giving up on the hospital route, they explored going through a government agency. Pete took a multi-day trip to Haiti to deliver carts with the government officials. He came back more frustrated than before, as it took days to deliver just a few carts. After all of these doors had closed with other organizations, I reassessed what God was doing. I appreciated the passion and commitment of the P.E.T. team, and saw the radical transformation in the two boys and their families who received these carts. Finally, it was clear this was something we were being called to bring into our work in Haiti. When I told Pete, “We are in. Let’s do this and do it right,” I had no idea the floodgates God would open to use this program to not only give mobility, but also bring eternity for so many people.

MH4H staff at a PET distribution pray with a man receiving Christ

Since February 2016, we have now distributed 360 P.E.T. carts to people who could not walk. In February 2018, we added a P.E.T. Chaplain to accompany every delivery, believing this was an opportunity to share the Good News of the Gospel. Pastor Saintferin, the P.E.T. Chaplain, has since led 34 people to salvation and 18 others in rededication to Christ, all during the P.E.T. cart deliveries. Over the past two years, Mobility Worldwide – Leighton has taken three mission trips with their volunteers, allowing the men and women who build the carts in Iowa to see the final step of delivery. The amount of tears shed during these deliveries is beyond counting, as the raw passion overflows from both the givers and receivers.

This project has transformed our communities. Before, people with disabilities in Haiti were thought to be beyond love, somehow cursed from God. Many times, the handicapped would be laying in the dirt, relegated to some unseen area of the house or yard. They were not associated with and had little purpose for living. Now, our staff and communities understand God’s extravagant love, as they witness love in action through this project. People now look and interact differently with the lame. With dignity, the recipients now go to the market, school, work, and are part of the community.

Pastor Saintferin (center) with PET Cart recipients

Many Hands for Haiti stands on the shoulders of Mobility Worldwide – Leighton, who passionately serve the lame and give them their lives back. And with God’s leading, may we WALK with them into eternity. Just picture the scene it will be when all these people get to Heaven and finally meet each other. What a glorious day that will be!

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