Mary Verghese – God’s Wheelchair Doctor
Mary Verghese Missions Story
Mary Verghese was a bright young doctor with a promising future in her native India when a tragic accident left her paralyzed from the waist down. Faced with the harsh reality that she would never walk again, Mary found hope and purpose in her Christian faith. She persevered through incredible physical suffering and disability to become one of the first doctors to ever perform surgery from a wheelchair. As she ministered to people with disabilities and crippling diseases, God gradually showed Mary that her own experience with disability and suffering gave her unique opportunities to share hope and healing with the hurting. She went on to establish the first fully functioning physical rehabilitation unit in India where her leadership, innovations, and Christian witness helped bring hope and healing to thousands!
This 6-part lesson includes activity ideas to enhance the learning process and provide further teaching that helps children understand that God can use their life no matter what their skills or abilities may be. Printable story visuals, PPT slides, historical photos, and activity pages for each part of the story are included with this free digital download.
This lesson will be delivered as a digital PDF file and a PPT slideshow presentation. The PDF leader guide includes the text for each part of the missions story for kids as well as printable visuals, photos, activity pages to accompany each part of the story.
Big Idea: God can use my life!
Key Verse: Philippians 3:8 “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
Story Excerpt: After the accident, Mary had a choice to make. Would she stay angry at God because she was now a paraplegic (she couldn’t walk)? Mary chose to trust God with the life that she still had. She didn’t know what her life would look like, but she chose to believe that God was still good and still caring for her. He could use her in the way he knew was best. As she grew stronger, she prayed about what she should do now. She couldn’t walk and would have to use a wheelchair. What did God want her to do?
One day, Dr. Paul Brand came to visit her. He said, “I think it’s time that you start thinking about your future, Mary.” He encouraged her that even though she would need a wheelchair, she still had strong arms, hands, eyes, and a good mind. They talked about several ways she could still be a doctor, though she wouldn’t be able to work with women’s healthcare and deliver babies in a wheelchair. He encouraged her to trust God and told her, “Mary, I believe you’re closer to God than you’ve ever been.” Mary still had moments where she wondered what God had done in allowing this to happen to her. But she chose to trust God anyway. When people came to visit her as she recovered, they were encouraged by seeing how she trusted God. Mary’s life was showing God’s greatness as she trusted him in her pain and disability.
Mary’s recovery was frustrating and difficult, but gradually, she learned how to do more things for herself. She also got a new wheelchair which gave her more independence. But, what about her medical career? She often thought about her conversation with Dr. Brand. She also remembered the words of a hymn she had learned:
“Take my life and let it be, consecrated, Lord, to thee. Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise…Take my hands and let them move, at the impulse of thy love.”
This song talked about God taking your hands and moving them to show his love. Mary still had working hands and a strong mind and prayed about how she could use them for God. While she recovered, she would often watch the leprosy patients from her room and became very interested in their lives and grew to care about them even more. Mary decided to ask if she could help in the leprosy clinic. She was excited and terrified. Could she still help people as a doctor in a wheelchair?
In addition to this missionary story, you can also use the FREE “Gospel Robot” object lesson to help children develop a deeper understanding of how the gospel changes our lives and gives us value and purpose no matter what abilities we have.