- Ada, Oklahoma

Local News

April 23, 2014

Faith in God gives Adan a leg up

Ada — Virgil Franks is a large man with a soft, gentle heart, a willingness to go the extra mile for his church and for strangers halfway around the world.

 He stands 6-feet-4-and-a-half inches vertically and carries 242 pounds horizontally.

 There's not an ounce of fat on this guy.

 Longtime area basketball fans may remember him from his days as an all-stater (1974) at then Class B Sasakwa.

 Virgil was scoring 25 points a game and pulling down 14 rebounds in those days.

 His team went to the playoffs four straight years and brought home one state championship.

 Not much could stop Virgil, it seemed, but a flesh-eating parasite from the south end of Africa gave its all to flatten him last year.

  When this 59-year-old left his Latta home last September on a mission for his church, the last thing on his mind was that he'd some day be making a new friend back in Ada — Charles Nordan, a certified orthotist and prosthetist at Action Limb and Brace, a man who  would soon be making a new leg for his soon-to-be new buddy, Virgil Franks.

 But last September, Virgil had two perfectly good legs as he worked to  help the people of Mawali, at the south end of Africa, dig new water wells.

 As he waded into the huge Mawali Lake one evening, he felt the comfortable breeze and cooling waters  take away  some well-earned perspiration, the water  gradually cutting him in half at the waist as he moved a little farther from the banks.

  He reflected, as he always did at this  time of the day, on the small, sad faces of the children he says, those whose families he and others were fighting to help build a future.                                  

 It always gave him a sense of purpose and convinced him God had set him on this path.

 The lake baths had become a nightly ritual since he left the states a week or so earlier on a mission trip for Morris Memorial Church in Latta.

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