On November 15th, 2007, I was on my way to a camp site near Dallas, TX to perform one of my family concert events with my singing partner Rachel Sanchez and my illusionist buddy Keith Coast. There were about 800 kids who already bought tickets to this one night event, so I was pretty jazzed!
I was driving alone about 2:30 in the afternoon, going down a two lane highway at the speed limit of 65mph. Another vehicle was coming the opposite way, also doing 65mph. In an instant, with no warning, the other car suddenly swerved in to my lane and hit me squarely head on. There was no reaction time, no brakes involved – only a direct impact at 130mph. To this day I don’t remember seeing them coming at me – it happened so fast. Unfortunately both the driver and passenger in the other vehicle instantly lost their lives. To this day no one knows how or why they swerved into my lane.
After seeing even the few selected photos that were taken by and eventually given to us by the Oklahoma State Highway Patrol, I think we can all say that it is nothing less than a miracle of God that I was able to live through such an impact! Only God’s amazing power and grace could have rescued me from that horrific event. I was driving the Chevrolet Trailblazer rental on the right. (Many other pictures were left out of the gallery out for obvious reasons). The two cars were fused together in such a way it took two tow trucks pulling the cars in opposite directions to eventually un-pry them.
I remember somehow coming out of unconsciousness during the rescue operation. There were about 10 firefighters and rescue workers frantically trying to get me out of the car. They were using the “Jaws of Life”. This went on for at least an hour. I still can visualize what it was like being trapped in the car, crushed to the point of not being able to move or breathe. I was bent over, knees in my face, driver’s shaft pressing up against my stomach, my right hand literally through the dashboard. Firefighters were desperately trying to get my crushed and nearly severed hand out of the dashboard. But through all of that I could really sense God’s Spirit was with me. He kept me calm with an unexplainable peace.
I ended up with 20 broken bones (including 14 ribs, a broken sternum, broken foot in 3 places), lacerated liver, lacerated spleen, various internal injuries, and a crushed right wrist. I also received head trauma which caused me to stutter severely and to make really loud, involuntary Tourettes noises.
While the broken bones eventually healed over a few month’s time, and while the doctors did a magnificent job re-building my wrist and repairing nerve damage, these disorders caused from the brain trauma lingered for 18 months. There were times when I thought I would be that way for the rest of my life, but God showed Himself strong and answered the prayers of thousands of fans, friends, and especially children all over the world who were praying for me diligently!
The first miracle is that I lived through that accident, period! By all human accounts, there is simply no way I should have survived. All officers and firemen involved say the same thing – that they have seen many tragic accidents in their line of work, and people just don’t survive these kinds of impacts. But God is a God of the impossible, and I am living proof! I was blessed to have the prayer support of thousands of kids, children’s leaders, family and friends throughout the country and abroad, praying for a miracle. God certainly answered their prayers!
The second miracle has been my recovery and restoration of my health! The recovery road wasn’t exactly easy, to say the least! Post accident surgeries, physical therapies, cognitive testing, countless visits to Doctors and Hospitals, etc. were the norm for what seemed to be an eternity! But the bottom line is that my friends and fans never stopped praying for me during that healing period. I am happy to say that thanks to God’s miraculous healing power, the many prayers going up for me, and the God-given ability of the doctors around me, I am now able to lead a productive life while continuing to minister the way God created me to minister without stuttering or making loud noises, and with minimal physical and cognitive interference!
During my 18 month healing process, God was actively working on my behalf. He gave me great comfort and perspective. This allowed me to endure with a positive attitude in spite of the physical and cognitive difficulties such as being in a wheelchair, not being able to use my writing hand, severe stuttering, loud and uncontrollable Tourettes noises, even not being able to concentrate. God instilled in me me a resilient spirit and a great faith that enabled me to overcome in the midst of trial. I also was blessed to have the wonderful support from my family and friends. I received thousands of letters, emails, and well wishes from fans all over the world! All of that, combined with God’s promises in Scripture and positive perspective I found through reading scripture and other faith-based books, is what carried me through those dark times. God gave me a special sense of His presence, which gave me calm and hope.
The third miracle God performed was His financial support for us as I couldn’t work for nearly two years! I can’t even tell you how He did it, but His hand of provision came through for us when we needed to pay enormous medical bills, and every time we had a need, period. People gave from their hearts, children’s ministry groups took up love offerings for my family, other artists in kids ministry took up love offerings for us, kids themselves raised money doing car washes, lemonade stands and the like. We actually never had a need that went unmet! God is our provider!
To this day I keep every single card, letter and email (and there are over thousands of them!) sent from loving friends and fans world-wide. They serve as a reminder of how much I am loved and appreciated by those my ministry has touched in some fashion. It spurs me on to want to keep serving our wonderful Savior!
Fully realizing and appreciating the fact that God spared my life for a reason, my desire now is to make the “second half” of my life even more significant than my first half!
I began with a verse in Psalm 40:3. That’s my testimony verse for my second half! My purpose verse, (mission statement verse, if you will), is found in Isaiah 61:1. “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.”
I know what it’s like to be a prisoner in a crushed car, trapped and feeling caged in. I know what it’s like to be a prisoner in your own body, not being able to function or speak the way God intended even though I was fully aware of what was going on around me. I can use that experience to identify with people who feel trapped in their circumstances, who feel caged in, who feel like prisoners to their life circumstances. God will use me to help set the captives free!
To God be the Glory – great things He has done! The best is yet to come!