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Aug26WedHow could I find a wheelchair for my client on such short notice? August 26, 2015 by Phillip Birt
As the chaplain at the Maxwell Meighen Centre, a Salvation Army residence for homeless men in Toronto, I'm often asked to procure items needed by our clients. By far, the majority of requests are for clothing, as many men arrive only with what they have on their backs. Working through our family services office, I can usually provide for these requests in a couple of days. Wonderful connections have been made because of what I do and I've come to be regarded as a “go-to guy” for those in need.
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- Faith & Friends
No matter how far-fetched the request, it seems that God is always three steps ahead of me, but a recent encounter left me awestruck by His response to immediate need.
“Give Me Some Time”
Sonny was a Maxwell Meighen client who visited the centre daily. Wheelchair-bound, he came in one day, noticed our daily morning devotional sessions and started taking part.
“It opened my eyes to faith and gave me a deeper appreciation of The Salvation Army,” Sonny says.
On this day, however, he'd no sooner arrived at the centre for lunch when one of the plastic front wheels of his wheelchair broke in half.
Sonny immediately sought me out. “Can you help me? My wheelchair's broken!
“I've been praying,” he told me. “A friend gave me that wheelchair and, though old and worn-out, it was usable. What am I going to do without it?”
I took a look at it. With the front wheel broken completely off as it was, Sonny would be confined to his little apartment.
It was one thing to obtain straightforward items such as shoes and toothpaste, but where and how quickly would I find a functioning wheelchair? I cautioned him that he would need to be patient: This might take days, even weeks.
Outwardly, I tried to look confident as I replied, “Give me some time and I'll put some feelers out. Have some lunch and I'll see what I can do.” Inwardly, I despaired—and prayed.
We manoeuvred Sonny and his broken chair into the dining room as I took stock of my options.
I immediately rushed back to my office and called my colleague at family services, John Gore. He'd always been helpful in the past but I feared I was asking for the impossible. A wheelchair on short notice? I just didn't see that happening.
Surprisingly, John asked, “Can you come over right now?” I didn't need to be asked twice.
I jumped into my car and drove over to his offices.
I couldn't believe my eyes. There in the hall was a wheelchair ready to go! Even John didn't know how they had acquired it, but it was there for the taking.
In no time at all, I drove back, wheelchair in the trunk, and arrived just as Sonny was finishing his lunch.
When we helped transfer him from the broken wheelchair to the new one, he wheeled his way out of the dining room accompanied by the applause of the rest of the clients. I'd never seen him happier than he was that day.
Some might feel that getting up and walking again would have been a “real” miracle. But for Sonny and me, the new wheelchair was a miracle in itself.