Seun Oke & First UMC Bryan celebrate The Gift of Mobility

First United Methodist Church of Bryan hosted a celebration luncheon on October 24 for their mission, the Brazos Valley PET project. The PET Project, Personal Energy JfUckIltXKEHFbl0bEH1jCG3gEqVBaKsavzBG0ygw66ipxWgLRCI_fjn_002Transportation, builds a three wheeled, hand cranked cart for mobility impaired people in developing countries. Seun Oke, a PET recipient from Ogbomosho, Nigeria, was the guest of honor and the West District superintendent, Rev. Wanda Bess, led over 130 guests in the invocation. Rev. Rick Sitton of FUMC Bryan says, “This ministry receives support from the entire church and puts dozens of men and women to work with their hands so that others may know the hand of God touching their life.”

69DFJnom9VBlV7CbRAcIdsdJmSsVAdtpy9bNHkBILpLozXCMi4RdanL-_002Seun Oke visited the United States in honor of the 20th anniversary of the PET project. Seun contracted polio as a child and was forced to quit school. Since receiving her PET Seun was able to finish school and complete vocational school. She says, “The PET cart has changed my life totally.” Brazos Valley PET is one of 23 PET shops in the United States and one in Zambia. The PET project began 20 years ago when Rev. Larry Hills, a Congo missionary, told the UMC Rev. Mel West of the need for a 3 wheeled hand-cranked wheelchairs for victims of birth defects, polio and land mines. xaWjjo0uZ5DwvbslVaWXlYceUY67z-jIqQZVzeWhOYSIIOji-wYHSL_H6DhlEarl Miner, a product designer, designed and built the first prototypes that could stand up to the difficult terrain often found in developing countries. Since that time over 48,000 PETs have been built and delivered to people in need. The Brazos Valley shop, which moved to Bryan from Luling 5 years ago, has built over 1,600 PETs. The Bryan shop is currently building 175 PETs to be sent to Vietnam and 50 to be sent to Honduras.

kuSduLr7PcXChO46gu4d-HyGiYSdW9Lfh41NV-eD2tqRmH4mZ-m2K0mr_002First United Methodist of Bryan provides the Brazos Valley shop with funding and many volunteers. However, with the encouragement of FUMC the Brazos Valley PET shop has volunteers from many different Methodist churches in Bryan/College Station, the West District and from other denominations. FUMC La Grange provides both financial and volunteer support along with Methodist churches in Brenham, Alvin and Beaumont. xOVJtn_CHAeWBQzgk5teQvaAFWwWkYTKlayT4BAcrVGHfIMalaeK212Z_002The West District Missions Committee, at the encouragement of Rev. Bess, has also provided funding. Some of the volunteers and board members of the Brazos Valley PET are from other denominations. FUMC Bryan leads an ecumenical effort to provide mobility to people in need. District Superintendent Rev. Wanda Bess, who has worked in the shop herself, says, “FUMC Bryan is leading the community in the effort to provide mobility throughout the world.”

qPTU9zSyEcTILRVnllhYJ3mIDmHlOPGQmRbJeQoRpsQuofO3lLRNDoke_002The United Nations estimates that over 70 million people with mobility disabilities do not have the use of a wheelchair. These people are forced to crawl on the ground or must rely of relatives to carry them. They often face a stigma and prejudice because of their disability. Once a person receives a PET they can go to school, to work, care for their families and overcome the stigma of prejudice. “We need more PET carts for them so that their lives will be changed as my own life has been changed,” says Seun. FUMC Bryan is helping to change lives through the gift of mobility.

For more information on the Brazos Valley PET project visit their website at:

Submitted by: Margo Newcomb (PDF)

One Reply to “Seun Oke & First UMC Bryan celebrate The Gift of Mobility”

  1. My husband, Herb, and I are thrilled to see that Bryan, Ohio, has a PET wheelchair shop in your area. Back in the 1980s, Herb pastored the Bryan, Ohio, Church of the Brethren, and we resettled refugees from Vietnam. I’m currently publishing a book I wrote at that time on tour experience with that family.
    Since then, we moved to Kansas, and I got involved with PET-Kansas. A couple of years ago, I went with them to Honduras, and in one week, we delivered more than 200 PETs, starting on the Pacific side of the country, up over the mountains, and down to the Eastern shore. I chronicled almost every recipient’s story so we could use it for news releases near Christmas. That week in Honduras delivering PETs was one of the most inspiring weeks of my life.
    Today, my husband teaches religion at McPherson College in Kansas. For the last five years, we have been taking our students to Ethiopia each April. Before we leave, (because of the laws over there) we have persons in need of PETs pre-identified over there so we can get their paperwork in order. Once that is done, we send the PETs ahead of us and then fly over to meet them. Our students love going to the PET shop here to learn how to re-assembled them, and then, when we travel there, they eagerly get them together and begin our distribution. I love these trips as they sensitize them to the plight of the poor. After a PET trip, they know beyond the shadow of a doubt that there’s a hurting world out there, and they can do something about it. These trips are transformational.
    Three of the students have repeated the trip another year, and one young lady brought along her pastor mother from the West Coast this year.
    McPherson College (in Kansas) where we teach is considering setting up a aservice institute there to send our students for internships. If that comes to fruition, we’re hoping to send PETs, as needed, and let our students deliver them.

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