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On Tuesday morning 5/24/16 I was heading back to my car after a two day hike on the Appalachian Trial near the NY state border.  Suddenly my foot slipped and twisted and both bones in my lower right leg snapped.  I inspected my leg and foot and could see that my foot was only dangling from the leg and there was no way I could move on my own.

            A wave of fear came over me knowing that I was still three and a half miles from my car.  I even said to myself, “You are in very big trouble.”  It was at that point that I said, “I need to pray.”  I said to God, “There is absolutely nothing I can do to help myself.  Even if I had a shoulder to lean on.  I need a complete rescue.  That’s what I am asking for.  Amen”

            I dialed 911 and from that moment on the rest of my day consisted of God sending a steady stream of the most wonderful and helpful people I could have imagined.  The 911 dispatcher was a woman named Kelly who was a Christian.  She was not only kind and calm and very reassuring but she was a total veteran as a 911 dispatcher.  She asked me a few questions and before I knew it she informed me that a rescue team had been assembled and were on their way.  In the mean time she stayed with me on the phone answering all kinds of questions that I had.  In the mean time a through hiker came named Bill who was from my home town of Schenectady.  He was trained as an EMT and so he took my vital signs and filled out a sheet of information for the first responders when they arrived.  Kelly said, “Does he have a cell phone?”  He responded “yes” and so she got his number in case my phone went dead.

            Pretty soon we heard shouts from the rescue team coming through the woods and within an hour and 15 minutes they had arrived.  Christopher the EMT explained that he needed to immobilize my leg but that after he did my pain would drop.  I told him I was a Christian and I knew God was in control so I was totally ready.  That’s when he told me that he also was a believer and he then showed me a scar and said God had brought him through an accident just like mine.  We were instant friends.  He set my leg and then sure enough my pain dropped by half.

            A nurse named Barbara had led the search party and she was able to check all my vital signs again.  I found out later that even though she was in her 50s this was her passion and had led many such rescue missions in the past.  As a matter of fact, she was in such good shape and took such a vigorous pace up the mountain that there were several volunteers who needed to turn around.

            Then a team of about 8 young firemen loaded me into a metal stretcher that they referred to as “the basket”.  (which I was glad to be in.)  They boosted it up and then secured to the underside a gigantic all-terrain wheel.  Chris explained, saying it was kind of like being on a unicycle.  I didn’t know what to say.  He went on to say, that this would allow the firemen to roll me whenever the landscape allowed.

            Then he explained that they had been able to pinpoint my exact location using the cell phone and then using Google maps were able to position an ambulance on the road at the closest possible place to where I was.  Therefore, we would not be using a trail but going “off-road” straight over the side of the 1400 foot mountain down towards Greenwood Lake.  I said, “ok.”, and they handed me a red helmet and said “Let’s go.”

            At first my knuckles were white as they often needed to pass my basket hand to hand over a steep drop.  But very quickly I began to see the level of effort and dedication and care that these young firemen were taking to get me down that mountain safely.  Most of them were in their early 20’s and a few were older.  It was humid and in the low 90’s and all of them were sweating like crazy.  As they made their way straight down the mountain the level of my gratitude just continued to rise.  What a wonderful and humbling thing it is to get rescued.  It crossed my mind, all of them were in the middle of something when the distress call was issued.  And every single one of them dropped what they were doing in order to sprint up a mountain and then sweat like a horse to carry me down.

            When they finally loaded me into the ambulance (which had backed up into someone’s driveway), I got one last chance to look into their eyes and say “thank you so much”, before they closed the ambulance doors.  It was certainly one of the most overwhelming moments of my life.

            The ambulance driver Bob was the father of one of the nurses in the rescue team.  He was willing to swing by my car on the way to the emergency room so I could pick up my wallet.  At that point I got to give Chie a quick call and tell her I have some bad news.  It felt good to be able to give answers to all her questions.  I knew God had already done miracles.

            At the hospital, the flood of wonderful people did not stop.  It was not a busy day in the ER of St Anthony’s Community Hospital in Warwick NY so I got constant attention from the whole staff.  The ER doctor named Eric ironically had also had a similar injury as mine and was able to give me all kinds of information and answer many questions.  H e was also able to order to pain killers for me.  As soon as they began to work he broke to me the bad news that both bones (tibia and fibula) in the lower right leg were broken so he needed to pull on my foot in order to line up the big bone and then put the leg in a splint.  The technician Scott held my upper leg and Dr. Eric pulled on the foot and lined up the bone.  They took an X -ray and happily they got it exactly right the first time.

            Dr. Eric recommended that I get the surgery needed right there at the hospital since they had a top notch orthopedic surgeon.  This was exactly what I had hoped for.  The surgeon’s name was Dr. Juliano and the next day he performed the procedure to put a permanent titanium rod into my tibia with four screws to hold it fast.  (I’ll spare you the details on all that)

            Thanks to the kindness of many people in the church Chie was able to come up immediately and stay at a bed and breakfast right across from the hospital.  When they were wheeling me back to my room after the surgery I could hear her voice as she talked with the nurses.  (Music to my ears.)  It felt to me like nothing but miracles had happened from the moment I first prayed that prayer on the mountain.  I felt so grateful to God.

            The truth is God did not stop speaking to me the whole time I was being rescued.  I could sum up his message to me like this.  If there was any way that I could have saved myself I would have done it.  But it was impossible.  God revealed to me in a way that touched the deepest place of my heart: In the same way that I was completely incapable of saving myself physically and had to be carried to safety in a basket, I am also completely unable to save myself spiritually.  My sinful nature is so pervasive and my condition is so desperate that I am truly, (in every respect) a basket case and only Christ is able to save me.  Of course I knew this before but as each detail of my dramatic rescue played out, my heart only swelled up bigger and bigger with love for Jesus and what He has done for me. 

            The story does not end there.  Now I am on crutches and need someone to do everything for me and so I just sit here in amazement and watch as God overwhelms me every single day with the love and care from the people of this church.(and the Korean Church)  Those who have preached for me or taught Bible studies for me, led devotions for me at fellowship night or prepared children’s sermons or led worship for me on Sunday mornings, those who have cooked and brought food for me, those who have called and sent cards to me, those who have cut my lawn, Those who fixed my computer and those who visited and prayed.  Those who have come to the house and vacuumed and helped Chie with laundry, and those who have gone shopping for us, those who have done favors for me, and sent gift cards and letters.  Chie and I are both overwhelmed with your love and your care. 

I never would have chosen to have a broken leg but I can say this: I never dreamed I would have a chance to see so many people rush to bless us. (And what a thrill this has been)  Even with tears I give my deepest thanks to everyone of you.  God has used you to bless me beyond what you can imagine!

 

 

Sincerely,

Pastor David

6/21/16



Click link below to see Pastor David's Letter to the Editor that was printed in The Warwick Advertiser

http://www.warwickadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20160621/OPINION03/160629977/The-Rescue


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