Using Prosthetics to Make Christ’s Name Known
By Katie Leatherwood – BBI Missionary; Designed to Live
RIGA, Latvia – I just returned from a mission trip to Jordan. Yes, missionaries can go on mission trips too!
I was invited to serve with Baltic Global Initiative, an organization run by Peteris Eisans, with the focus of encouraging Latvians to be involved in Missions.
The initial plan for this trip was to go ‘look and see’ about the need for prosthetics. Instead, we decided to take materials and equipment to fit three men for new prosthetic legs. Martin Bionics provided the Socketless Socket system, which eliminated the need for heavy equipment, plaster and plastics. Their innovative socket system is similar to an Erector Set for the prosthetic socket. Based on several measurements, we are able to provide a custom fit prosthetic socket that is comfortable, durable and adjustable. The prosthetic knee, foot and other components were provided by Limbs International. The Limbs International Relief knee is ideal for the environment of Jordan (on a side note: I was on the research team that developed the Relief knee). Limbs International provides the Relief knee all over the world with great success of durability and function.
Not knowing what the situation would be, I took tools and materials for a ‘mobile clinic’, much like I use for my mobile clinic in Latvia.
We ended up having only two patients, above the knee amputees. Both men were Syrian refugees that had lost their leg in a car bomb four years ago. They were at the same bombing. The fitting process was done in each of their homes’ on the floor. There was a lot of ‘thinking outside the box’ with these fittings! Although there were many kinks along the way, and wishing for better equipment, we could see God’s hand in every aspect of the process. Over the course of two days, hours of using sub-par tools, and following Jordan’s customary pace of work (lots of coffee breaks), we finally had well-fitting prostheses for both men.
AM, the younger man, took his first steps like a pro. God was definitely in on the gait alignment process, as not much had to be changed. MM is an older man with a few other complications. However, he also did a great job learning the basics of walking with the prosthetic leg.
At one point, after we had completed AM’s leg and working on MM’s, AM surprised us all. He walked in to MM’s home in nice clean clothes, using only a single cane. He looked like a new man, proud and confident! As we were leaving, we saw him walking along with his son through the street of the neighborhood. This was the first time in four years that he was able to walk and hold his son’s hand!
The church in Jordan that we served with has been building relationships with these men and their families prior to us coming. They will continue to visit them with the ultimate goal of sharing Christ’s message. We can’t speak Arabic and cannot directly speak of Christ’s love, but we pray that the prostheses can provide a pathway for local Christians to grow deeper relationships with these families.
I was scared to go to Jordan. My idea of the Middle East was what I saw on the news. I had a judgmental view of people from this area. I want you to all know that what you see on TV does not in any way reflect the people of this area. We were welcomed into homes like royalty. I do not know if the men we fit with prosthetics (and will fit in the future) were connected with terrorist groups.
What I do know is they are created by God and they need to know of His love for them.
I will use the skills and knowledge God has given me, to help provide hope, mobility and a pathway for local Christians to share of the ultimate Hope in Christ. I am so humbled for God to use my skills of prosthetics to make His name known.