USA — Prison Outreach Helps Provide Wheelchairs — The Joni and Friends Wheels for the World program provides life-changing mobility and the hope of the Gospel to people living with disability worldwide. They collect used, manual wheelchairs across the United States that would otherwise end up in landfills. The wheelchair restoration process begins in federal, state, and private correctional facilities where inmates are trained to restore wheelchairs to like-new condition. At every step, the Wheels for the World program is designed to put the love of Jesus on display in an impactful way. From collection to restoration, to distribution, lives are being changed.
My name is Javier Martin. I’ve been here going on two years now. I’m serving a four year term.
My name is David McMaster. I’ve been incarcerated for the past 32 months as part of a 16 year sentence.
Phil Yokum – Wheels For The World Shop Supervisor:
The Wheels For The World program has a tremendous impact on the inmates. They had previously had a life of taking from society but now Wheels For The World is giving them a chance to give back by helping others.
The wonderful thing about Joni and Friends and the Wheels For The World program is it’s really given me the opportunity to reflect on those throughout the world that have disability their isolation in the world and their need for others to bring them some hope and opportunity. It just, not only opened my eyes to that but allowed me to become part of serving from here in prison yet I can effect somebody in Thailand, in Ukraine or you name it. And it just, it allows me to have my heart reach out to them in my willingness to provide comfort, rest and peace that can only come from Jesus Christ.
My son was in an accident when I was incarcerated last time and he was in a coma for a while. I mean, to me, it was really, really hard trying to do my time and knowing what was going on with my son. I thank God that He’s still with me now. I heard about the program and right away that was something I knew I wanted to do be able to help other people.
By teaching the skills need to restore a wheelchair it also helps restore the lives of the inmates. They learn and they grow and become more confident. They acquire the skills that will help them when they get out.
My job in the Wheels For The World program is quality control. I make sure that all the chairs are in top condition and restored the best they can possibly be before they leave the shop.
I handle all the logistics so I handle the paperwork. I receive the chairs as they come in, me and my team. And we also load the chairs as they go out to the different outreaches throughout the world.
When the photos come in we post them on the bulletin board. The inmates come up and look at them. Quite often they will find a chair that they worked on in the photos and that’s really huge.
On this board we get thank you cards, thank you letters.
Those pictures they just touch you. There’s so many kids and people that when they receive their wheelchairs they’re just so happy. You just see the expression on their faces. It’s a great feeling that I am here and I’m able to help other people.
The Lord has given this opportunity to me to open my heart, to open my eyes to serving others and the help that is need throughout the world and the opportunity that brings for us to bring the Gospel message and that has truly transformed my life and I’ve realized how you can do anything to serve the Lord from anywhere, and you can reach out and you can touch people across continents. So this just been a fundamental change for me, it has given me direction and opportunity.
About Joni and Friends
For 40 years, Joni and Friends has provided the hope of the Gospel and practical resources to people affected by disability around the globe. Ministry programs include Wheels for the World, Family Retreats, the Christian Institute on Disability, and church ministry training. Joni and Friends also delivers inspirational media such as the Joni and Friends radio program and podcasts. To find out more, please visit www.joniandfriends.org.
Source: Global News Alliance, Restoring Wheelchairs and Hearts Through Prison Outreach