Faith turns pain to praise
Our story, as remembered by Ron & Kathy Henderson, of Sequim, WA
In the Beginning
Our ordeal started on a late September day in 1995. We had planned to spend three days at Lake Cushman and to attend a funeral in Chimacum.
At the time, I was the assistant manager at Sequim Auto Clinic. Kathy was employed in an attorney s office in Sequim. We were headed home to Sequim on our 1983 Honda Gold Wing, helmets on, dressed in full leathers.
We decided not to stay for the barbeque that was planned, at the Rangers quarters, for later that day, so we started on our way back home. It was early afternoon on a clear day, it was beautiful, and the road conditions were perfect. We stopped along the way at a scenic turnout to take a few pictures, Ron didn’t feel like talking so, as we left I prayed for God to watch over us and whatever happens, may He be glorified. We rounded a curve and I don’t remember anything else until I woke up in the hospital. We traveled 20 minutes or so when we reached the spot on Hwy 101 and Duckabush Road where our lives changed forever.
Both of us consider it an act of God s grace that we don‘t remember the trauma of the accident. But we have managed to piece together a probable scenario from witnesses and site visitation.
We assume that the vehicle in front of the vehicle in front of us put on his brakes to make a left-hand turn. We don‘t know if his tail lights on his trailer were working or not. From the marks on the road, it looks like we tried to avoid the accident and there was something we weren’t aware of until we were right on it.
Damage to the right side of our motorcycle indicates it struck an object that sent the bike into on-coming traffic and then into the grill of a Chevy Suburban with a impact hard enough to rip the front drive axle from under the truck. The driver of the Chevy, who had been towing a boat, lost control of the vehicle and went down the embankment, dragging the bike and me along with it. Kathy was catapulted forward from the bike on impact. She stopped up under another truck just after it had run over her right forearm and hand and just short of her midsection being run over by the rear tires.
The fact that the truck did not roll over and kill us, we take to be one of many miracles that day.
Accident pictures, for those interested......
The accident broke both of my legs, broke my jaw, and tore my left arm clear off. When the arm went, it pulled an artery in my chest along with it, and I was bleeding internally.
An emergency medical technician happened to be in the line of traffic (put there by God) and another was within running distance. A nurse found my severed arm and wrapped it in ice in hopes of later reattachment.
The driver of the truck sustained three broken ribs.
They found Kathy under the truck, my little legs were sticking out, and they thought I was a child. The EMT who found Kathy said she was praising the Lord.
Kathy suffered two broken legs, a broken back, broken right arm, crushed right hand, and internal bleeding. The medics feared I was in respiratory failure. Later they told her they had not expected her to live. Ron was taken by helicopter to Harborview Medical Center. Kathy was rushed by ambulance to Mason General Hospital in Shelton. Once they realized she had a chance for survival, she was airlifted to Harborview.
The word of our accident had spread quickly and by the time the helicopter carrying Ron arrived at Harborview, about 15 members of the Christian Crusaders were already, waiting and praying at the hospital.
Ron had been taken immediately to start a 13-hour or more operation to repair the artery damage from his arm loss. The arm was severed at the elbow but the arteries were ripped away at the heart. Reattachment of the arm was not possible due to the extensive damage.
You can see the miracle God has done through us because it is external. But how many of you are being called out of treacherous situations such as financial, spiritual, family, or emotional? You see our situation is no different than yours; it s just that you can see ours.
The Power of Prayer
For three days, our lives hung in the balance. Thousands of Christian motorcyclists across country began praying non-stop for our recovery.
You can feel the power of prayer surging through you. You have to know what that feels like to understand it.
Many people came to the hospital to see us and pray for us during our 5-week stay. During this time several of our Brothers-in-Christ were ministering not only to us, but other patients (on invitation) and relatives, in the halls, elevators, parking lots, and wherever they could "corner" someone.
(2 Cor 12:9) -- And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Kathy’s extended hospital stay
I often wondered what would come out of my mouth in a time like this. I was elated to know that God was being glorified immediately. The paramedic who found me under the truck said I was praising the Lord. A lady in the truck in front of us told me she held my head in her lap until someone could tend to me and I was saying the Lord s prayer. The wife of the paramedic who found me was in the ambulance that took me on to Shelton hospital because they didn’t think I was going to live. She said every time they thought they d lost me, I d come back praising the Lord and they knew all was well. From the very moment of the accident God was glorified through me His vessel and the Word was being proclaimed.
It was several days before they could operate on me because they were striving just to keep me alive. I don‘t know if you’ve ever experienced the power of prayer surging through your body, but I will tell you it is a wonderful experience. One I will never forget. We knew the saints were praying for us. The doctors confirmed it, because they said they never saw wounds healing as fast as ours were. We were also blessed by having Christian doctors and the finest surgeons in the west present at that time and who were called upon to repair our injuries. Harborview is definitely an excellent trauma facility.
While we were being tended to physically, the saints were calling prayer chains, housing and taking care of our 3 daughters and the trauma they must have been facing. The Lord provided His wisdom to help a close friend and his wife take on the task of tending to all our financial responsibilities during the almost 10 months of our incapability to do so. Brothers and sisters in Christ rallied together to do His perfect will. There were strained times when they would come and say we need "X" amount of dollars for this bill. We prayed and they would go home and there would be that amount plus a few more dollars to meet that bill.
When one of the brothers told me of Ron s loss. I told him I already knew and that it was his left arm. And I said I also knew that we were going to be back up on a trike and that I saw him with the prosthesis on and all was going to be okay.
(Rom 8:28) -- And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
We had other friends tell us of the peace that was on my face as I lay there on the brink of death. I had others say they saw angels standing at my shoulders and that there stature and glow was breathtaking. Another was told not to worry that I was His and I would be okay. I tell you friends; truthfully I wanted to go home to the Lord. But you see, He wouldn’t let me. He said my mission was not yet completed here on earth, I had to go back. I often wondered if I would be able to truly sing praises to the Lord for an eternity. But I tell you with certainty I now know I can and will. These things I relay to you may sound far-fetched to some of you but they are real. Some of you can agree with me. To the others I say -- keep focused on the Lord.
(Prov. 3:5&6) -- Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall make your paths straight.
Stay in His word.
(Psalms 119: 11) -- Thy Word have I hide in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.
Keep His Word on your lips continuously.
(I Thess 5:16-18) -- Rejoice always; Pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks for this is God s will for you in Christ Jesus.
We saw God s work first hand through the ministry that was going on in that hospital. People being prayed out of comas; others going home to the Lord peacefully; many coming to know the Lord in the hospital and out on the streets surrounding the hospital where the brothers were continuing to minister. We were encouraged by some of you who came to visit us at the hospital when you had to be in Seattle and others as they passed through because they wanted to see whom they were praying for.
Another interesting aspect of our stay was when we were put together in the same room. It is against hospital policy to put husbands and wives together in the same room because they feel they can’t deal with each other infirmities. But we had a brother who convinced the staff that we needed to be together. He said not only have they been together physically for nearly 30 years (at the time of the accident) but, spiritually together they would be stronger yet.
(Eccl 4:9, 10) -- Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.....
Kathy and I were on different floors and we felt incomplete by not being together. As you can see from our injuries, put us together and we are a complete person. I am Kathy’s legs and she is my hands and together we can accomplish quite a bit. We hope and pray it all to be to God’s glory. We feel so privileged to be His vessels. We believed time together in the hospital was necessary so we could better deal with each other s situations. Of course we knew only the Lord could help us through our pain as He mended our bodies. The first time that we were able to see each other was when we met, on our gurneys, in the X-RAY department.
In fact I would see the Lord holding out His hands to me as I walked through the pain those early days. Because I knew He had already been through it and wouldn’t put me through anything He hadn’t already faced and conquered.
Ron went to the adult home one week before I did. I got a new roommate, the wife of an outlaw cycle group. Her husband was in another room down the hall. They had also been in a motorcycle accident. She broke her back and an ankle. She was left partially paralyzed from her accident. Her husband received 3 broken ribs. When brothers and sisters in Christ would try to reach her with the plan of salvation. She would refuse. Then the night before we would go our separate ways, I said Lord please help me to minister to her. She had heard me relying and praising the Lord, as I would have to endure the pain of the injuries and the situations that were necessary for recouping. Well it was about 11:00 pm and all was fairly quiet. She said, "Kathy, are you asleep?" I said, "No." She said, "I have a couple of questions to ask." She said, "I have never seen a Bible and I have no idea about it." I tried to relay that it was the Believer s Instruction Before Leaving Earth. I told her about Jesus and what He did for us. And a little about the Gospels. Then she said, "Kathy, how can I be saved?" Now how many of us hear that question? Well we prayed the sinners’ prayer and she accepted Christ. But you know the most exciting part? Was again, seeing the Lord and His word come alive in our lives. Because the next morning, the nurse came in around 6:30 am. after the shift change. She first went to Christy s bed and the first thing she said to her was "Christy you look different this morning." Neither of us said a word. The nurse left and Christy said to me, "Kathy did you hear what she said." I said, "Yes. I told you that you were a new creature in Christ." Christy and I still keep in touch and she said she knows too that she s been called according to His purpose and the Lord has Christians cross her path at different times to help her grow and keep focused.
The next phase of recovery was when we were released from the hospital to a Christian Adult Care Facility, 2 miles from our home. The facility had just opened the month before and had two openings. They turned their new dining room into a room that could house both of us along with all the equipment need to maintain us. God had this ready and waiting for us to begin our recovery. (Talk about an awesome God and His perfect timing) At this point we were both totally dependent upon others for all our needs. We spent five months there recovering and another 3 at our home. Without our Faith in Jesus we probably wouldn’t be here today. Everything, everyday was a struggle, this is the verse that kept me going is:
(Phil 4:13) -- I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
As we spent those five months in the adult home a fund was set up at First Federal Bank, enabling us to meet our house payment. For 10 months, our friend Marv Fowler, owner of Sequim Auto Clinic, took care of our financial matters for us.
In the adult home we felt ineffective, just lying there. But God in his infinite mercies and love showed us we weren’t just lying there. He brought people to us to fellowship with, do Bible studies with, pray with, or counsel (or should I say encourage). Even the paramedic who was on the helicopter with me and was the one who brought me to the adult home said he was afraid to come in and visit. Because of all the accidents he s seen he found it hard to believe that we survived. He said he recognized me by my eyes when he came to take me to the adult home (I had bloated up to be quite a sizeable person as I was having my turtle shell reshaped continuously as I shrunk back down to my normal size. They used to joke and say how small are you? They finally had to make a new shell and it was kid size.) But he did come and see us when he traveled through Sequim and he said he was blessed by our wholeness and cheeriness and encouragement. He said most people in our situation would have gotten in a wheelchair, turned to a corner and just withdrawn shriveled up and died. But he left laughing and praising the Lord after our visits.
We also had a visit from another Christian biker, who is a minister, tell us that he was hesitating coming to see us because he didn’t know how he could cheer us up and encourage us. He’d been a military chaplain, hospital chaplain, and a minister of his own church for years. Seen it all, and yet he said he went away absolutely blessed and encouraged after visiting us. He said we had lifted him more than he could have ever lifted us.
But you see -- it wasn’t us. It was the Lord working through us. He ministered to the needs (using the power of prayer and you, His saints); He mended our bodies (giving the physicians the wisdom and capabilities to repair our bodies and prayer to do it quickly); He supplied our needs (through others so that we could keep our house and the day to day responsibilities were met); He used us to minister to others (salvation to Kathy’s roommate; encouragement to others as they saw the Lord lifting us up daily in recovery, attitude, and learning how to cope and conquer our situations set before us.)
(Heb. 13:8) -- Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever!!!!!
Just a few years ago, 1997, Kathy was in a wheelchair and I was using a cane and barely walking. Since the accident ruined our motorcycle, we had to get another one. We had a Gold Wing trike built and specially equipped so that we could ride again, on which we continued to further His Gospel for another 8 years. The Lord has given us a testimony of His strength and Grace and a new outlook on life. We know and the scripture tells us that we are not promised tomorrow, so we should live today as if it were your last --- it may be, make each day count!
In 1999 we were blessed in that we could fulfill another dream of riding around the country. We made a trip to the Midwest, visiting friends and relatives. We even snuck in a few stops to churches that had helped and prayed for us to give our testimony of God’s Grace. All in all, we put about 7500 miles on the bike on that trip and got to see a lot of the country up close. Two years ago we sold the bike and bought a convertible. Not quite the same, but better for our aging bodies.
Many of us go through life waiting on a blessing, remember.
(John 16:23-24) -- And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
The bills for our hospital stay totaled more than 1/4 Million dollars. My health insurance covered only part of my expenses, Kathy didn’t have any insurance. Through the generous giving of many motorcycle ministries, churches, and groups across our nation and Canada all of our medical bills have been paid. The last one was paid just before Christmas 1997. We worried we were going to lose our home, 1oose everything. But that didn’t happen. We left everything in the Lord’s hands.
(Phil 4:19) -- But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Keep focused. Keep your eyes upon Jesus. This is the day that the Lord hath made, I will be glad and rejoice therein.
How wonderful that no matter what confronts us, we can still be happy, whole, and content.
(Rom 8:28) -- And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.
Everything happens to the good, if our accident happened so that just one more soul should enter the Kingdom of Heaven, it was worth it!
I sometimes crack a joke or two about my missing arm........
The Lord truly works in mysterious ways!
If you do not know the Lord personally in your heart, please don’t leave without Him from this place. Don’t hold Him only in your head (knowledge of Him). Remember, Heaven or Hell are only a breath away. We left on a sunny day to go home from an eventful weekend. We almost had that last breath. But the Lord used us to show others what can happen when you belong to Him and are willing to be willing to be used of Him (called according to His purpose). We truly believe we are living miracles that show what the Lord can do if you are His.
Thank you for giving us this opportunity to thank you personally for all the prayers and support. We hope that our testimony has encouraged you. That as you go out into the field for the Lord Jesus Christ, that whatever you do all to the glory of God.
(ISAIAH. . .40:31) -- BUT THEY THAT WAIT UPON THE LORD SHALL RENEW THEIR STRENGTH ; THEY SHALL MOUNT UP WITH WINGS AS EAGLES; THEY SHALL RUN AND NOT BE WEARY; AND THEY SHALL WALK AND NOT FAINT.
If we meet and you forget me, you have lost nothing,
but if you meet JESUS CHRIST
and forget Him you have lost everything.
Thank You Jesus! For allowing us to present our story, and for the many lives
that were changed from the ministry that went out, and is still going out, since
our accident. Many souls were led to the Lord at the hospital by the
came to support us, and were able to minister to numerous others at the
The Lord truly works in mysterious ways!
Our 1989 GoldWing Trike
Clutch & throttle on same side