By CASEY KELLOGG
Meet the physical therapist who shouldn’t be alive
By modern medical definitions, physical therapist Mark Ware is a walking miracle.
At 15 years old, Mark and his father were rebuilding a 1955 Chevy in their garage and a bucket of gasoline suddenly caught fire. Before long, the fire had spread throughout the shop, trapping young Mark inside.
By the time of his rescue, Mark’s body had been so severely burned that doctors had to remove most of his skin. Miraculously, they decided he would recover, but gave him little to no hope of ever using his right arm again.
Yet even in a hopeless situation, Mark prayed for a miracle — a prayer that would be answered almost a year later.
He recalls, “I was in the hospital for two weeks and they sent me home. And then I had to do hydrotherapy and continue to work on my hand … it took
about a year to get the use of it back.”
For Mark, this traumatic experience was a testimony rather than a setback.
“Every experience that you have either kills you or makes you stronger, or brings you closer to God … and it didn’t kill me,” he says.
But this was only one of many divine interventions in Mark’s life.
After becoming a physical therapist, Mark had been working at a large hospital for almost 10 years when he began to pray for something more.
“I wanted to start something,” he recalls, “where I could spend more time with patients and less time worrying about big bureaucracies.”
This time the answer would come in a vision, during one of Mark’s routine morning walks on his treadmill.
“God gave me the entire plan of what the business was supposed to be, and I was supposed to call it the Strength Center and I was supposed to pay $12 a
foot for the lease … And God said we weren’t supposed to borrow any money from anybody.”
According to Mark, this vision contradicted everything he already knew about business, including the lease price and the money needed to start a company. But he decided to act on it anyway.
He began by calling his physical therapist friends and patients. He explained his plan and asked them to donate any equipment they no longer used.
“Every one of them said, ‘Yeah, sure’ … Nobody that I asked didn’t give something … and so that’s how we started.”
He found his facility soon thereafter when he stopped by an empty building one Sunday afternoon and asked about the lease. To Mark’s amazement, the owner’s rate was exactly $12 a square foot.
It wasn’t long after that before Mark’s vision, a faith-based clinic called The Strength Center, became a reality.
Although Mark received the name of the business from a vision, it was his wife who recognized its biblical importance.
“My wife told me, ‘The verse is Isaiah 40:31, But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.’”
Laughing, Mark adds, “I didn’t know that … but that’s why it’s supposed to be The Strength Center.”
To Mark, the clinic’s name represents his ministry. “It’s a double-edged meaning. We’re here as physical therapists to get you strong, but as a Christian organization we’re here for the mind, body and soul.”
As a faith-based clinic, Mark has faced opposition in regards to advertisement. Because the company is publicly Christian, national and local advertising agencies refuse to endorse it unless Mark agrees to drop his religious affiliation.
But for Mark, that was never even an option. Instead, he has become more determined than ever to represent Christ through his life and his God-given company.
“I don’t want to be like other businesses. I’m not going to change the name and I’m not going to take any of my Christian stuff off the walls. God has always provided patients … and that’s how we have continued to practice against all the odds.”
Casey Kellogg is an intern at Mississippi Christian Living and a sophomore at Mississippi College, where she is studying English writing with a minor in literature. She hails from Nesbit and enjoys listening to musicals and spending time with her cat, Wishes.