Faith to stand on

TESTIMONY: Accident brings loss of legs, change of heart

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I was born into a Christian family and went to church every time the doors were open. For years I was a good little boy.

When I got into junior high and high school, I slowly drifted as Satan lured me with temptations. My language got worse, and I started drinking and doing drugs. In the 1980s, I began lifting weights and replaced recreational drugs with steroids. The phase my parents thought I would outgrow turned into a lifestyle.

My life went along like this for 13 years. During those years, I sustained injuries requiring surgery, my mom died and my wife had a miscarriage. I quit smoking, but I still drank. I was arrogant and belligerent. Fighting at home seemed constant. I felt the Holy Spirit trying to get me to turn my life around, but I was in my 20’s and had plenty of time to change.

But when God has a plan for your life and you’re not living up to it, God has a way of getting your attention.

Foxhole promise

By this time, I was working for the Sedgwick County (Kansas) Fire Department. On Nov. 1, 1989, at 2:15 p.m., we got an alarm for a grass fire. Smoke completely covered the roadway, so we drove slowly through the smoke to make sure no vehicles were on that section of the road. Then my partner, Stew, got out of the truck to handle the hose while I drove the truck. But because of the smoke, I couldn’t see Stew in the truck mirrors, so I got out of the truck to tell him to yell or bang on the truck when he wanted to move.

As I walked out of the ditch, a woman in a baby blue Ford Tempo driving 55 miles per hour pinned me between the front of her car and the back of Engine 2. The impact moved a 26,000-pound truck 22 feet and crushed my legs into the Tempo’s grill like a bug. I fell face down on the concrete, knocked out of my bunker boots.

The pain was unbearable, but I didn’t black out. As I hit the ground, I prayed for the first time in 13 years. “Lord, please let me live long enough to see my little girl grow up.” I was flown by helicopter to the hospital in critical condition.

My first surgery lasted 13 hours. My legs had been shattered from my ankles to above my knees. Because the bleeding would not stop, I had another 4-hour surgery, and I lost both legs above the knee. The doctor told me that my heart had stopped for four and a half minutes during my first surgery. I made one of those ‘foxhole conversion’ promises: “Lord, if you let me live through this, I’ll walk the straight and narrow. I promise I’ll change my ways.”

Getting my attention

I thought of the un-confessed sin in my life and couldn’t believe how far I had strayed from God’s path. The road to destruction happened one step at a time. Even though I had abandoned God, God never abandoned me. The Holy Spirit had gone to every party and every bar and heard all the dirty jokes, bad language and fights, patiently waiting for me to come back.

I can’t believe it took getting pinned between vehicles to wake me up. I’m not saying God throws cars at people, but God will use terrible things to produce good things. God had a job for me, and he knew I didn’t need my legs to do it. It’s too bad it took something as drastic as losing my legs to get my attention. Is God trying to get your attention? Are you listening?

One Sunday, I came across a church service on TV where a guest speaker with cerebral palsy gave a sermon, “Thou shalt not bellyache.” The next week, his sermon was, “Don’t ask why, ask what.” God was trying to tell me something. When I went to get prosthetic legs, I met a man who had lost both arms, legs, ears and most of his nose to frostbite. He never complained about a rough life. God puts people in your way for a reason.

My wife, Kathy, and I started going to church, and for the next eight years I taught eighth through 12th grade Sunday school. These were the best years!

I still struggle with temptation. Satan haunts me with memories of things I’ve done. When I feel guilty and unworthy of Christ’s forgiveness, I remember that my worthiness did not save me, it’s Christ’s worthiness as a sacrifice that makes the difference.

I lost my legs, my job and nearly my life. For 34 years, God has given me strength to handle this. God’s always with me. God didn’t just make me shorter that day. He changed me on the inside. He changed my heart and way of thinking.

Gods plan and timing:

  • God didn’t let me have any injuries from the waist up. That’s a miracle.
  • Right before the police showed up at our house to take my wife, Kathy, to the hospital, God sent Grandma, who we didn’t expect, to get my daughter, Kristine.
  • God put a vascular surgeon in the trauma center when they brought me in when he wasn’t scheduled to be there.
  • God put David Ring on the TV on a Sunday morning when I didn’t have anyone in my room visiting, giving a sermon called, “Don’t ask why, ask what.”
  • God put Mike, the man who lost his arms, legs, ears and most of his nose to frostbite, in my path when I went to get prosthetic legs in Oklahoma City.
  • God had me say yes when asked to work with teens on Sunday evenings until the church found a new youth pastor.
  • God made my past give weight to my words when I told my Sunday school class that something was a bad idea.
  • God has my whole life planned down to the second. If I had said 10 more words to Stew, the accident would have happened in front of me. If the truck had been 10 feet further forward, the car driver would have missed the truck, but the driver would have caught the booster line and killed my lieutenant.
  • Pastor Brent Warkentin said once that God doesn’t let any event or circumstance, good or bad, go to waste. He uses it all.
  • We all have a salvation story. We just have to be willing to share it.

Roger Dakin’s testimony on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tfIcLFK_a0

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