Spreading love through wheelchairs | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Spreading love through wheelchairs
The author with Zoe and her father Angelo —CONTRIBUTED photos
Spreading love through wheelchairs
The author with Zoe and her father Angelo —CONTRIBUTED photos

“God created man in his own image.” –Genesis 1:27

As I walk down the streets of Las Piñas, something catches my eye. Children playing, running around with their lively legs and rolling around in wheels. It’s like heaven on the streets—where God seems to have wiped away every tear. Here, children who have special needs, regardless of physical ability, are not held back and are given the opportunity to move again.

God is Able is the one to thank. The name alone describes an abundance of power of miraculous work. Pastor Paolo Sanchez, executive director of the God is Able Foundation, spreads the blessings and teachings of God to everyone, with a focus on people affected by disabilities. The team welcomes those who can’t walk or those who struggle walking and provide them with assisted devices that provide comfort such as wheelchairs, along with the Word of God through their Christian church partners, all for free.

Every day, differently abled people come to them seeking help and always come out satisfied and thankful. To Sanchez, this is more than work but their mission for God.

Spreading love through wheelchairs
Marilu with the author and God is Able’s Paolo Sanchez


“We have a vision for the specially able to live and serve with a purpose. When they come in we never want to turn them away. We spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and use it as a way to bring them new life,” he says.

Sanchez joined the ministry in 2018 after his wife, Maur, faced their own journey with disability. They were searching for a Christian community that embraced those with the same challenges and Sanchez believes that the Lord brought them here. God is Able is a 10-year-old organization founded by Moses Chiong who was taking care of his disabled cousin in the United States. He was then burdened to come back to the Philippines and share his knowledge of care.

Turns out a wheelchair isn’t just a wheelchair. Did you know that there are more than 20 types of wheelchairs that are tailored to specific needs? The right assistive device redefines a whole new way of living. God is Able works with Joni Eareckson Tada, an American who started her own organization, Joni and Friends.

Joni is a woman who has found her extraordinary abilities through a physical disability herself. She miraculously found her passion from trauma. Joni broke her neck at the age of 17, paralyzing her body from the neck down. In her lowest moments, she was lifted up by everyone around her who supported her. She believes nobody should have to face their disabilities alone. This is how she found her calling.

Spreading love through wheelchairs
Joni and Friends collects used wheelchairs and rehabilitates them to be given to those in need.

Joni and Friends collects used wheelchairs and rehabilitates them. What otherwise would have been discarded are transformed into quality assistive devices—wheelchairs, walkers, canes and crutches. What’s unique is many of these are restored and given new life by prisoners in the United States. They are then shipped to the Philippines and distributed by God is Able through their church partners. Now that’s paying it forward.

Sanchez says the church searches for the disabled, those forgotten by society, and helps them bring their voices back by equipping them with restored wheelchairs to help them in their daily life. They were able to create an intuitive multi-step system that supports up to 25 people daily. For their mission in Las Piñas, they register all who come in and then bring them into their situation room. This room has up to six stations with therapist volunteers from the University of the Philippines and Joni and Friends.

Time and attention

Everything is about the individual—from how the wheelchair fits them to how long the wheelchair can be used for. I was impressed with the time and attention given to every person. People weren’t treated like charity but as individuals with needs. They were seen. They were valued. If one has outgrown their wheelchair, it is then donated back so that it can be passed down to another in need—it’s all about sharing the love.

Sanchez points out, “Disability respects no one. When we pass down these chairs from people to people, we are passing down the love. We are all about inclusion, and we believe that the church should be a model of that. One of the first places we should see the differently abled is in church, where we provide and they gain spiritual guidance and spiritual encouragement. The government is doing its job, doctors are doing their job, but what about us? The church, are we doing our job because if you go back to our ancient texts, Jesus was all about this.”

Spreading love through wheelchairs
Making sure Zoe’s wheelchair fits

God is Able is the embodiment of love knowing no bounds. Four-year-old Zoe Abao was born with myelomeningocele, a devastating congenital malformation of the central nervous system. Because of this, she is unusually small and can’t walk. She was also diagnosed with global development delay. Her father Angelo, who works as a delivery man for FoodPanda, struggles to make ends meet and find the time to help his daughter. When Zoe needed surgery, they were scared and angry, thinking “Why would God do such a thing?” But anger and bitterness can’t help much.

When they went to God is Able, they saw their situation from a spiritual point of view—as a challenge that God gave their family to see if they could persevere together. After the surgery, Zoe is now hopeful. She still needs a wheelchair but now laughs and smiles every day. She sees herself in a different light, knowing that she is just like any other girl out there, and now with a chance of walking one day. This has changed not only their lives, but has given the family a new way of thinking, as Zoe stays happy no matter her situation.

“She’s happier now that she has a wheelchair. She used to be scared. We used to ask, ‘Can we handle her condition?’ But we had to be strong for her,” Angelo tells us in Filipino. “We’re not losing hope that she’d walk again some day. My wish is for her dreams to come true.”

Strengthened faith

Sanchez believes that everyone deserves this kind of loving help and support. Marilu, 63, a widow, has been depressed for many months. She’s had a stroke three times and half her body is paralyzed. She has lost the ability to walk and because she’s been bedridden, she lost time with her family. She’s been feeling lonely and alone. This brought her to God is Able.

Marilu says being in this community has strengthened her faith and now, with her new wheelchair, she is up and about and seeing her grandchildren more often. She has regained her self-worth and realized she was never alone. She experienced God’s goodness in the people around her.

Spreading love through wheelchairs
Paolo Sanchez (right, in black): “We have a vision for the specially able to live and serve with a purpose.”

Sanchez says their ministry isn’t just about wheelchairs but it’s about love in action. “We donate, yes, but we spread the gospel because the worth of a person starts from within, that’s where their soul, spirit, dignity and meaning is … Whatever happens to your body, because you have a soul, you are meant for a relationship with God. He shapes our purpose in life through any means, to bring us closer to him.”

My time with God is Able opened my eyes to a new kind of inclusion. The beauty of giving people what they need not out of charity or tokenism but out of genuine compassion, empathy and the kindness of our hearts. This isn’t just about a wheelchair. This is about love in action. Empowering the differently abled gives them the power to enjoy life again, giving them a godly love. After all, we are all fearfully and wonderfully made by God.

Together, everyone is able. —CONTRIBUTED

To know more about God is Able, contact Pastor Paolo Sanchez at 0917-3282253 or visit godisableintl.org.


Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.