Rise Up and Walk

Field Notes:  Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly, June 24-25, Charlotte, N.C.

The Jan. 12 earthquake that struck Haiti has left tragic images seared on everyone’s mind.  Wanting to deliver hope to a seemingly hopeless situation is why our $3,000 Fuller Center house has generated so much interest and excitement within churches all across the United States that are looking for ways to help.

While the Fuller center focuses like a laser on the issue of housing, we are not unaware of the need for collaborations in Haiti with programs addressing other issues like clean water, education, jobs and everything that is required to bring renewal to a community. MSN reported, "The (Haiti Earthquake) incident may represent the largest-ever loss of limbs in a single natural disaster."

The medical needs in Haiti are great and we are delighted to have such a good partnership with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF).

Charles Ray and Harry Rowland of the CBF invited me to represent The Fuller Center at a workshop on the disaster response in Haiti and Chile.  There I met Rev. Craig McMahan, Dean of the Chapel at Mercer University, who introduced me to an incredible project which Mercer has undertaken.  The biomedical engineering department was challenged to come up with a more affordable and more flexible prosthetic.  A prosthetic patient in the United States can expect to pay over $12,000 for a fitted leg, but the Mercer University team developed one that can be produced and fitted for $200.

Incredibly, that is the exact same cost of the wooden legs Millard and Linda Fuller were purchasing for people in Mbandaka in October of 1973!  Millard wrote about their wooden-leg ministry in a chapter he titled “Rise Up and Walk” in his book Bokotola.

The ministry was launched in response to a ritual that occurred every Friday in Mbandaka: “begging day.”  Millard and Linda were confronted by three men who each only had one leg and were confined to a life of begging.  Millard studied the situation and asked if the men would like to have wooden legs.  They all enthusiastically said, “Yes!”  Millard told them that his help would come with a condition. “If I help you get a wooden leg, there will be no more handouts.  You’ll have to find a job.  Do you want to do that?  Will you be willing to give up begging and go to work if you get a new wooden leg?” 

“Yes. Yes!” they each replied.

Registered Nurse Nancy and husband Dr. Stephen James head up the Holistic Health Ministries in Haiti for the CBF.  They shared that many of the amputees are hidden and cannot even risk coming out to beg.  Many have not survived, but many have and the James’ are training Haitians on how to fit people for the new Mercer prosthetics.  Dean McMahan said Mercer is developing a microenterprise program that will train Haitians to make the prosthetics in Haiti, providing employment and hope in a seemingly hopeless situation.

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