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Wheelchair no hindrance to missionscomment (0)

January 22, 2009

By Gary Hardin

Peggy Gentry may sit in a wheelchair because of limited movement, but perseverance reigns in her life of boundless service.

“The Lord gave me a desire to go, and I just want to keep on going,” she said.

Peggy’s persistence keeps her serving the Lord despite having been stricken with multiple sclerosis (MS), an incurable disease of the central nervous system that disrupts communication between the brain and other parts of the body, in 1970. Most MS patients experience muscle weakness and difficulty with coordination and balance.

But nothing has kept this graduate of Judson College in Marion and member of First Baptist Church, Aliceville, from staying faithful in her church attendance and participating in missions trips to Thailand, Guatemala and Venezuela.

“Peggy and her wheelchair have gone all over the world for the cause of Christ. She has not allowed her physical limitations to hinder her,” said Landon Williams, minister of music and youth at the Pickens Baptist Association church. “Sugar (a nickname given to Peggy by a grandson) never misses Sunday School and worship. Never!”
Peggy’s husband, James, a retired physician and lifetime trustee of Judson, shares her commitment to missions.
The couple have participated in numerous trips sponsored by Baptist Medical Dental Fellowship (BMDF), an organization that coordinates dental and health care missions domestically and internationally.

James took part in his first BMDF trip by himself. When he shared with organizers that his wife was confined to a wheelchair, they responded, “Bring her with you the next time. We can find a place for someone in a wheelchair.”

Though faced with unremitting hardship, Peggy set an example of determination. “Everywhere Peggy went, people marveled that she would come such a long distance in a wheelchair. She’s made friends on every trip. People see things in Peggy that change their ways of looking at life,” James said, adding God has used these missions trips to change his and Peggy’s lives as well.

Through the years, her condition has worsened. “Today, except for some small amount of movement in her right arm, Peggy is a quadriplegic. Peggy needs daily assistance with feeding, bathing and dressing,” James explained.

In addition to meeting her needs, James is also caring for his 111-year-old mother, Mary (see sidebar), who lives with them.

The Gentrys’ spiritual strength and stamina are an inspiration to Felicia Summerville, one of several individuals helping James care for his wife and mother.

“Dr. Gentry and Peggy are really good people. I love working for them. They are like my second family,” she said.

Charles Wilson, pastor of First, Aliceville, said Peggy’s resolve to keep going is noteworthy and an example to others.

“She is the most faithful, committed and compassionate woman I have ever known. She has a heart for the local church and for the Church triumphant, as well as a heart for missions,” he said, noting Peggy is always asking what she can do for her church. God’s had Peggy’s heart for a long time.”

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