The Miracle of Forgiveness

Reproduced from The Austin Stone:

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

These are simple, powerful, and even poetic words that I’ve said so many times without fully grasping their meanings. On July 15th, my family was given a chance to live them. An ordinary day transformed into an extraordinary test of faith.

While traveling north on I-35, we were suddenly rear ended by an 18-wheeler. We were stopped in traffic when it hit, crumbling our van like an accordion. My wife, Nikki, and I were in the front and our children were in the back, where they bore the brunt of the impact. When the truck hit, I sustained a head injury and lay bleeding in a bed of glass. My wife turned to see our oldest son, Cadyn, slumped over, limp, and lifeless. For a moment, she thought he was gone. By a great miracle of God, he was still alive… but gravely injured.

Nikki pulled our children from their car seats and handed them to strangers outside the van. In the midst of the chaos, she saw that everyone was being tended to long before the ambulance arrived. Cadyn was in critical condition and barely breathing, but Nikki had a peace that surpassed understanding that God was there.

That’s when she noticed the truck driver, Roger.

He was curled up into a fetal position, leaning against the concrete divider, weeping into his cell phone. My wife felt an overwhelming sense of love and compassion for him. It was an accident. She walked over to Roger to embrace him and began to pray. At first he refused, but Nikki insisted and said, “This is what grace is for.” While praying with him, she realized by his words that he was our brother in Christ.

Cadyn was immediately sent to the ICU, where our trial continued. We received news that his brain had sustained shear injury, a type of brain damage that either kills or severely impairs for life. We sat at his bedside, begging for him to open his eyes. In the darkness and overwhelming anxiety, the Lord gave us His strength to believe for a miracle.

It was during that time that Nikki reached out to Roger. He had to know that Cadyn was alive and that he was, indeed, forgiven. As I prayed about this, I felt a love for him as well. God brought to my mind numerous verses of His command to love radically and forgive freely. As our son laid there hooked up to a ventilator, we were not helpless. We could love. The enemy was to have no foothold. After leaving a phone message with the trucking company, we went back to praying and waiting.

Doctors told us that Cadyn would be in the ICU for many weeks with a tracheotomy and a feeding tube, followed by many months in the hospital. They said we would never have the same son again. Even still, we had an unexplainable joy and peace. We were not alone and none of this was a shock to our Savior. He wasn’t finished yet.

A few days later, Cadyn woke up. This set into motion a recovery process that astonished the doctors and defied scientific explanation. That same day, Roger contacted us and we invited him to see God’s miracle in action. Our son couldn’t talk right away, but he could write. He was coherent enough to understand the situation as my wife and I explained to him what happened. Nikki asked Cadyn if he wanted to forgive Roger. I saw my son think about it for a moment, then give an assertive thumbs up. With construction paper and a crayon, Cadyn wrote: “Roger, I forgive you. Love, Cadyn.”

At that moment, my little 5-year-old son became my greatest hero.

We were blessed to meet Roger and his family that day. Roger said he was framing Cadyn’s note and putting it on his wall. I believe him. It was surreal to embrace the man who almost killed my son, but there was also such joy.

I remember the shocked look on his face when he told us that our forgiveness had rocked his faith to the core and that he could not understand how I, as a father, could forgive him. I told him that Jesus poured out His grace to me from the cross, and the only right response would be for me to pour that same grace out to others. Roger said he didn’t know people followed Christ like this, but we assured him we’re not super Christians. It’s only by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As the saying goes, we’re not perfect, we’re just forgiven.


When Firefighters Fall, Fire Chaplains Stand

Fire Chaplains Offer Firefighter Survivors And Families Spiritual Care And Hope:

As friends and families reel from the news that 19 elite firefighters died battling an Arizona wildfire Sunday (June 30), the work of some of their spiritual comrades has just begun. Fire chaplains are stepping up to support the grieving, just as they did after 9/11 and the recent fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.

“What we do is we come alongside the survivors,” said Chaplain Jimmie Duncan, president of the Texas Corps of Fire Chaplains. “Sometimes we’re quiet. Sometimes we hug them. Sometimes we pray. … We just stand there with them and try to meet their needs and walk alongside them through the darkest part of their lives.”

Duncan is the associate director of the South Central Region of the 700-member Federation of Fire Chaplains. About half of the chaplains in the federation are ministers, and half are firefighters who have trained to become chaplains. Their everyday duties are similar to that of other pastors — visiting sick firefighters, providing basic counseling and praying at civic events and fire department ceremonies.

But officially notifying a loved one who just lost a firefighter is “absolutely one of the toughest things we ever do”…

Rest here.



Boy Meets Fireman who Saved him

(AP) — When fourth-grader Koregan Quintanilla was talking with his classmates about where they wanted to go more than anyplace else in the world, his answer wasn’t an amusement park, sporting event or kids restaurant. It was “his” fire station.

Koregan was abandoned in 2002 at an Arlington fire station when he was just a few hours old. Texas’ Baby Moses law allows a parent to leave an unharmed infant up to 60 days old at a fire station or hospital with no questions asked. Child Protective Services then takes custody of the babies.

On Thursday evening, Koregan got his wish for his 10th birthday. He met the Arlington firefighter who saved him, rode on a fire truck and toured the station. He hugged Arlington firefighter Wesley Keck and said he was “very nice.”

Keck said he was excited about seeing the boy for the first time since finding a baby carrier outside the station on a cold November morning. He said he did a double take before rushing outside. He moved the blanket aside and saw a sleeping baby, then gently picked up the carrier and walked inside to tell his colleagues the shocking news, he said.

“I announced that somebody had left us a gift,” Keck said Thursday. “I checked him out, and he seemed fine. I don’t remember him crying. I held him, and he slept a lot. I have four kids, and some of the other firefighters are fathers, so taking care of babies wasn’t new to us.”

Koregan’s mother, Rebecca Quintanilla, said her son, who turned 10 last week, always has known he was adopted and has watched TV news footage from when he was found at the fire station. This year, when Koregan began showing more interest in meeting the firefighter, she tracked Keck down and planned a reunion.

“He’s a very good kid, kind, shy and he’s always giving things away to people,” Quintanilla said. “After talking to Mr. Keck, I think he’s like that. I do believe Koregan has some traits from Mr. Keck, although he just spent a few hours with him.”

Since 2009, 43 babies have been dropped off at fire stations and hospitals in Texas, said Marissa Gonzales, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. All states have similar laws, but Texas was the first to create the Baby Moses law, signing it into law in 1999. It took effect in 2001.

Quintanilla, who has five other children, all adopted, said she is grateful for the Baby Moses law — although it means Koregan never will have a way of finding his biological mother or his medical history unless she comes forward.

“It’s amazing, because there are terrified women who have no idea what to do,” she said. “There’s a window of time when they can make a choice.”

Keck, a firefighter for 26 years, agreed.

“I’m happy the way it turned out,” he said. “I didn’t do anything special. I happened to be in the right place at the right time.”



I Had I Busy Evening…

Two die and two airlifted after structural collapse.

ER 24:

Two men have sustained fatal injures while another two suffered critical injuries after a wall collapsed onto them at a residence on Adam Tas road in Somerset West.

The three construction workers and their manager were at the wall that was being constructed behind the pool at the private residence, when suddenly the wall collapsed onto them. The manager was crushed beneath the weight of the rubble, while one of the construction workers was pushed into the pool and he may have been drowned as he was pinned down by the weight of the bricks on top of him. The two men died at the scene and nothing more could be done to save their lives.

The other two men had also been crushed by the falling rubble and the Department of Health Provincial Government Emergency Medical Services Structrual Collapse Unit were immediately called to the scene to coordinate the rescue of the two men. The Structural Collapse Team set to work to free the man, meticulously removing the rubble from the area so as to not impact on the patient’s injuries but to free the two men as quickly as they could.

Approximately two hours later the patients were ready for transport and AER24 was called in. A private ambulance service brought the patients to a nearby field where ER5 had landed in wait. The first patient was loaded into the air ambulance and transported through to Mediclinic Vergelegen. After a comprehensive but quick handover of the patient, they booked airborne back to the scene to collect the second patient. Shortly after that the patient was safely on the way to Mediclinic Cape Gate.

Both patients, despite having suffered extensive injuries in the accident, remain in hospital in stable conditions.