Monthly Archives: August 2014

Ramps of Hope

Ramps of Hope

submitted by Rick

I love meeting new people and learning about what makes them tick. With Mission: Mobility, I have been provided the unique opportunity to “meet” many new people from across the country. Although most I have only met via email, a few over the phone, and a few when “meeting in the middle” to pass off some wheelchairs. Many of these who I have met are now part of the infamous “facebook friends” world. Although Facebook is viewed as both good and bad, I have embraced it now as a vehicle to attempt to strengthen our wheelchair collection network.
It has been amazing for me to observe vicariously through this electronic portal, how my new friends are serving in their local communities. When seeing how many are doing AMAZING things to serve those in their communities, I am humbled and thankful that they take the time to join Mission: Mobility and collect wheelchairs. Observing these various people with the photos and stories they share on FB it has truly been an encouragement to me.  One of these ministries has really struck my attention, because of it’s LOCAL involvement in serving those with Mobility needs.

Meet Debbie Hills.

Debbie is our Mission: Mobility partner in West Springfield, Pennsylvania. Debbie was one of the first to eagerly join us in our efforts to collect equipment. Unlike me, a farmer/insurance agent who had no history with ANYTHING mobility related, Debbie’s past truly lends itself to Mobility Assistance ministry.
Debbie practiced for 32 years as a Pediatric Physical Therapist before going into full time vocational ministry. She is an ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church. In this, she is called to “connect the gathered community of believers with the needs of the world and lead them out into the service IN the world.”
Debbie has been in Guatemala 3 times with her home church serving with different missionaries and with Bethel Ministries 5 or 6 times. Often times working in the orphanages fitting the children with specialty wheelchairs. “I absolutely love the Maya People and their gentle and strong spirits.”   I echo that Debbie!

She has also served 8 or 9 times in Honduras, working with Joni & Friends’ Wheels for the World, doing wheelchair distributions. (WFTW also partners with Bethel Ministries in supplying a HUGE portion of their wheelchairs)   El Salvador has also been the destination for 6 mission trips for large wheelchair distributions.


While in Honduras and El Salvador, Debbie has also spent much time teaching with Occupational and Physical Therapists in the government rehab system.  Debbie’s husband has also travelled with her on most of these trips, “he is an ace wheelchair mechanic”.

To quote Debbie, ” I have a passion for reaching out to those in the margins that the world largely says are “less than” and letting them know that they are loved and valued and not alone. I love equipping others to go out to those who really need to hear the good news that can only be found in our Lord and Savior”.    Very well said Debbie!

She also serves as the chairperson of the Western PA Conference of the UMC Disability Concerns Team. This works to be a resource to nearly 900 churches who strive to become places of welcome and inclusion for those who are affected by disability.

Ok, this is some amazing background. Most of which I just recently learned from Debbie. The above in-and-of-itself is a blogpost. But the following was what I have seen on Facebook that I wanted to share.

Since last February when we first “met,” I have seen many, many posts of events she was a part of.   It quickly became obvious to me that these were not occasional “random acts of kindness”, but a serious organized effort to SERVE! is their Facebook page.
Debbie is the executive director and founder of a disability ministry called “All God’s Children Ministries.”   4 ½ years ago, they started “Ramps of Hope.”   ROH operates mostly in a 2 county area in NW Pennsylvania. They have a core of about 40 volunteers who often help and 50 who help on an occasional basis. The regular volunteers come from a dozen different churches. (the group is growing and branching out into nearby communities)

On a typical outreach, a group of 10-15 volunteers will construct wheelchair ramps for local people in need. Materials are acquired at a local lumber yard that is owned by a strong Christian family.  They provide a discount and free delivery of materials.

They have averaged building 3-4 ramps each month. Her local core group has built 36 ramps in the past year. Since April 2010, 131 ramps have been built. Each project takes approximately 2-3 hours. Ramp sections are prebuilt in “modules.”


This allows for quick installation and also ramps can be reclaimed and reused if the recipient no longer requires use of the ramp or moves to a different location.

imageimageIn reviewing the hundred of photos from their building events, it became obvious to me that this is a phenomenal group.   They build rain or shine.  Winter doesn’t even stop them!
What Ramps of Hope is doing in their local community reminds me so much of what Bethel is doing in Guatemala. ROH isn’t just about building a ramp for a disabled person. Debbie says “my absolute non-compromise is that I must have a promise of pastoral support in proximity to the ramp installation before we proceed. I feel building relationships is key. The heart of the project is evangelism/offering them CHRIST. That is done best through relationship. Relationship is best built in proximity”.    AWESOME!  Well said Debbie!
Amazing Ministry!  Truly inspiring!   A lifetime of service to the disabled both domestically and in Central America. Debbie has a huge heart for the Lord and a huge heart for SERVING those in need.

Thank you to the many volunteers in the Ramps of Hope group!  Thank you for your dedicated service to your neighbors in need!  Thank you Debbie for all you do in your many outreaches!

Romans 12:11 GNT
Good News Translation
Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion.

Ps.   Debbie said that Ramps of Hope could easily be replicated, anywhere.   She welcomes inquiries of how a similar program could help people in your community.    You may contact Debbie at




submitted by Mission: Mobility Partner Kim Moody Crouch


It’s been six years since our first mission trip; a trip I anticipated would be a short lived adventure.  Little did I know, God would continue to call us again and again to return to Guatemala and turn this experience into a passion.  It’s a ministry I’m grateful to be a part of and have had the immense pleasure of watching grow because of people like YOU.  Our dearest donors and supporters, thank YOU for allowing us to be the hands and feet of Christ through YOUR giving, prayer, donations, and incredible generosity.

After that first trip, I was convicted on so many levels of how I’d been living my selfish, so-called Christian life.  The following verse from Proverbs 24:12 cut deep and made an incredible impact on me.  “Once our eyes are opened, we can’t pretend we don’t know what to do.  God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act.”  It was a trip that completely wrecked me, and I mean that in the greatest of intentions.  Returning home, I knew change was necessary.

Every summer, this trip always put my life in perspective.  I think about everything differently, from the way we spend our money, eating leftovers, to realizing our house will always be big enough (regardless of the size of our family), and how we give and who we give to.  These moments have taught me the importance of being intentional in every aspect of my life.  I make an honest effort of thanking God daily for the little things.  I appreciate our children more (even on their worst days).  It’s opened my eyes to recycling, planting a garden, collecting memories instead of stuff and loving our neighbors.  My eyes have been opened to loving God by loving all of His people and His earth.

I am grateful for the chance to step away briefly each year and work in Guatemala with Bethel Ministries, International and the Mooney Family.  They have been instrumental in shaping my spiritual life.  Serving there can feel like a vacation, when given the chance to turn your back on the mess that often accompanies our everyday lives we often create ourselves.  It’s an opportunity to walk away from the meaningless distractions ofphones, email, meetings, TV, and the over-scheduling we are all guilty of.  It’s an opportunity to truly LIVE in His will.  From the fundraising efforts leading up to the trip and being touched by the generosity of our family, friends and community, to the second we serve in Guatemala, we receive love, give love and are so BLESSED by the richness this journey entails!

These trips are always humbling and make my life.  They are a favorite part of every summer, yet, I waver through such a roller coaster of emotions from anger and sadness, to gratitude.  My heart is so full while I’m there, but so shattered at the same time.  I see God everywhere, but struggle with so many questions.  Why do we have so much and they have so little?  Why do my children always have full tummies and they don’t know the next time they’ll eat?  Why don’t more people help?  How can I motivate others to give up some of their abundance and give to those who have so little?

This July we served in Chichicastenango, Guatemala.  It’s an area deeply rooted in Mayan culture with over 27 dialects just in this region alone.  The people are dark brown with beautiful long, shiny black hair and the darkest of eyes.  They are warm and kind.  They look at least 10 years older than they actually are.  They’ve lived hard and been kissed by the sun far too many times working in the fields and trying to survive this difficult life.  They dress in “typical” Mayan attire of handmade embroidered blouses and wrapped fabric skirts.  The fabric is so beautiful and vibrant with stitching so intricate you can’t fathom how long it took them to create these amazing ropas (clothes) by hand.

The town is located in a rugged region, full of mountains, deep ravines, and volcanoes smoking in the distance.   It sits at 6,000 feet above sea level with breathtaking landscapes from every direction.  The climate is ideal and tropical.  Today is 70 degrees and perfect.  Every time I’m in this country, I’m convinced the Garden of Eden looked like this.  There are apple trees in every direction and flowers of every color growing wild.  It’s one of the most beautiful places on this earth, despite the sight of poverty everywhere.

We held a wheelchair distribution today.  It sounds so simple, meaningless almost.  When we first started these missions, I didn’t realize the impact a single wheelchair could have on a person’s life, especially when I thought about the lack of other resources like shelter, food, clean water and money.  After the first distribution, it’s now always one of my favorite days.

The crowd is trickling in.  Road protests have slowed the people from getting to the clinic where we’re distributing free chairs.  Some of these people have been on a waiting list for 6 months to years to receive a wheelchair.  A 30 year old man comes crawling in like a crab, his only method of moving around.  There’s a gentleman carrying his 85 year old mother on his back in a plastic chair tied to his waist because she’s too weak to walk.  He carried her for miles and paid what little money he had to get her through the protesters so he could get her wheelchair.

There’s also the lovely hermanas (sisters) with their 88 year old father.  He lost his wife just 17 days ago.  He has no legs because both were amputated due to cancer.  They show me his wrist, badly bruised with a deep cut.  He fell while trying to scoot around the house when his daughters weren’t home.  A sweet mama walks in and lays her daughter on the ground.  She’s tired from the journey.  She’s carried this child in a sling on her back.  For 13 years, she’s carried this paralyzed child everywhere.   Today, this child gets a chair and mama gets a new freedom of walking alone and using her arms again.

Whether it’s a 38 year old who has never left the house because of cerebral palsy or the opportunity to give a mother her arms back to work again because she’s carried her child since birth, a wheelchair is LIFE in so many ways for these people.  Some of them will come for miles, for days on a bus to receive this free gift.  To us, it’s just a chair someone threw out to the dump, to them; it’s the gift of mobility!


On this day, we meet young and old with difficult stories.  There is one in particular that affects me profoundly.  He’s a 7 year old boy who I love at first sight because hereminds me so much of my boys.  His smile is infectious and lights up his entire face.  His cheeks are round and rosy and he illuminates happiness.  Today, he is receiving his first wheelchair.  I look down and grab his little hand to hold and hug him, but am immediately taken back at the sight of his hands.  I well up with tears.  His tiny hands are broken and battered.  They are so severely calloused and swollen two times the size they should be.  Where there should be knuckles, there are cracks and deep cuts to the bone that are black with dirt.


He’s been dragging this little body on the rugged earth since he was mobile, using his fists to crawl.  His hands have literally been his feet.  These precious hands are so filthy and probably have never been washed or cared for.  These darling hands have never seen a Band-Aid or an ounce of Neosporin.  I’m physically sick; not that he’s so dirty and cut up, but that these precious 7 year old hands have endured so much in his young life.  He’s been crawling on rocky roads and dirty floors, and then using those same broken, achy hands to put food in his mouth when it is available.  I once saw a sign that read, “It is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so deeply.”  I will not forget this moment; it has cut me to the core.

I hug him again and I don’t want to let go.  How is he smiling when I can see the bones in his hands?  How is he giggling when his hands are so infected, calloused and broken?  We put him in his new chair and his expression says it all.  He knows this is his first set of “legs.”  I exhale, hoping his hands may finally heal.  He grins from ear to ear, excited about his new wheels!


10 minutes later we sit down to eat and I can barely move food from my plate to my mouth.  I’m still shaken, devastated by the wounds of this child.  I long to take him home and bandage up his sweet little fists.  I’m saddened that I’ll never know if those wounds actually heal or if he will lose his fingers or hands.  I’m troubled that a child has to live in this sort of pain.  I ache for his uncertain future.

In my frustration, one of my favorite songs comes to mind.  It’s by Matthew West, called “Do Something.”  The lyrics say, “I shook my fist at heaven and said, God, why don’t you do something?  He said, ‘I did.  I created you!’”  And it is in this moment that I am grateful, so very grateful for this little boy who keeps a smile on his face despite his circumstances.  This physically broken child is an incredible reminder that we are all broken.  We have broken pasts, broken relationships, broken hearts, broken marriages, we are spiritually broken.  We. Are. Broken.

This child is a reminder that we have a God who aches to have a relationship with us.  We too, can smile despite our circumstances in this fleeting life, knowing we are promised eternity if we would just accept Him.  We serve a God that aches to use us, if only we’d listen to His purpose for our life.  I’m humbled all over again.  God can use ME, despite all my brokenness to give hope where it’s needed most.  He uses a sinner like me, to bring comfort to those in need.  I pick my head up with tears in my eyes and go back to my “check out” post at the clinic.  It’s the last stop for those who receive a wheelchair and have met with the pastor, to get last minute information.  A man grabsme and wraps his arms around my neck and hugs me tightly.  With big tears in his eyes he says, “Muchas gracias. Dios es tan grande!”  (Thank you very much.  God is so big!)

Yes, He is.  Amen.


Kim and her husband Stephen live in Murray, KY and are veterans at serving with Bethel Ministries.   They lead mission groups independently every summer to serve with BMI.  They have two young boys, Collier who is 9 and Kellen who is 6 years old.  Their oldest son, Collier has served with them in Guatemala for two years.  They love serving the people of Guatemala and love serving The Lord.   Along with serving with Bethel in Guatemala,  they collect wheelchairs that have been shipped to Guatemala.   The Crouches have huge hearts and are an integral spoke in the wheels of Mission:Mobility!  

Thank you Kim for submitting your story.  And many thanks to you and Stephen for all you do!  Dios te Bendiga!