Staff Writer Chelsea Pardue blogs about a special visitor who stopped by our World Medical Mission warehouse recently.
Eighty-four-year-old Burton Thomas has spent the past 14 years of his life collecting supplies from Goodwill, flea markets, yard sales and various other places to send to people who can’t afford the things they need. Thomas started his ministry by collecting shoes and coats to send to people in Moldova. A shoe store near his home went out of business, and he bought 300 pairs of shoes for $1 each.
“That tripped my trigger,” he said.
Burton later learned that these people also had medical needs that weren’t being met, so he immediately began collecting crutches, wheelchairs, walkers and canes to send to them. He started visiting Goodwill and thrift stores twice a week and the flea market once a week to hunt for items that could be used.
Four years ago, the ministry Thomas had been working through fell on hard times. People all over the world still needed medical supplies, but the ministry no longer had money to send the supplies.
Thomas started talking to a man who works in the medical warehouse at Samaritan’s Purse. He found out that our World Medical Mission program sends doctors and supplies to hospitals in dozens of countries.
Thomas loaded up the back of his truck and a 12-foot trailer and drove a load of supplies to Samaritan’s Purse headquarters, which is about 95 miles away from his home.
Since that time, he and his dog, Chainsaw, have brought six to seven loads per year to our warehouse. This month, Thomas already has 5,000 pounds of hospital linens and a truck and trailer full of other supplies.
“My Lord gave me the gift and calling in this, and so I pursued my gift and calling,” he said. “I want to help people that need help, and I do it because I believe it’s the Lord’s will for my life. He didn’t give me good health and extra life to sit around in a recliner, and I don’t want to sit around in a recliner. I want to die with my boots on.”
But Thomas doesn’t want to be recognized for his efforts. He acknowledges God’s glory and gives Him all the credit. Thomas is reluctant to share any details about the work he’s done to bring in supplies, but he will say that he has always wanted to help people who have less than he does.
Because Thomas has been collecting supplies for many years, medical and healthcare suppliers know his name. When they receive a surplus, they often ask him to take the extra equipment. Through his gift of love and service, Thomas has given people in many different countries access to better healthcare.