This is a testimony that can remind us of the fact that we are redeemed for a purpose. God has prepared things for all of His children to do (see Ephesians 2:10).
I'm David, a regular middle aged guy who looks healthy on the outside but continues his battle with pain and how I feel inside. I am thankful for my faith that has given me the courage to try and do lots of things I never dreamed or was told that it was not possible to do...
Today I am known as a successful pastor, evangelist, disaster responder and trainer and faithful servant for God. I am also known as a 26 year fire chaplain, responder and CISM (disaster mental health emergency response)approved instructor as well as Salvation Army Officer.
But, I didn't start out this way... here is my story....
I had my first two head injuries before I graduated high school (one from being thrown down a set of marble stairs on my back and the other was a medicine ball thrown at me at close quarters which lifted me off the ground and I slid till I hit the concrete wall with my head which the gym teacher reported the event to the school saying was flying off the ground and traveled 45 feet and still hit the wall with a thud like one would hear if you dropped a watermelon.).
I was raised by a bipolar mom who had a nervous breakdown after the loss of her 4 year old daughter to polio just weeks before the Salk vaccine was available. I was born to replace her.. and because I was not healthy, my mom became even less stable. She self medicated with alcohol and was severely compulsive addictive. She was in complete denial that there was anything wrong with me or my body because she felt that if there was something wrong with me that she would have been a bad mom. I had birth defects in my lower back and legs and feet. Pain was a regular occurrence. As a baby (one day old) they did a medical experiment on me since I was expected to die. Well, I didn't die but the side effects were profound... and it is now illegal to do that experiment on humans. I was expected to be a dwarf, be in a wheelchair by 19 and dead soon after....being sterile was guaranteed... so living long enough to be a grandpa is beyond anyone's imagination.
After a year and a half of college (on handicapped scholarship ...there was no PC terms in those days) and working too, I had a nervous breakdown (at 18) and fell into deep depression. As I dropped out of college, my friends took me to the bar to teach me to "relax". Two weeks later, I could out drink any of them and soon was staying numb by self medication. I received my 3rd head injury from a pipe applied to the head by someone who was scared of me while I was being an "angry drunk" at a party.
By two years later, I was a full blown alcoholic / drug abuser and was 3 days from my fifth suicide attempt (3 separate overdoses didn't work, neither did driving my car off a bridge.... so I was going to use a hunting rifle). A young girl was out sharing her faith with the "toasted crowd" and saw that I was in deep trouble. She didn't know what to do so she brought me to church.
At the altar call I went forward and God revealed Himself to me. That night I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, was delivered from drugs and alcohol and I dedicated my heart and life to him. God changed my life, gave me hope and called me to love people and to serve and love. A few months later, in a community wide worship service a very unassuming man prayed for me and God healed my back from the severe pain and healed my body...so that years later I would be able to father the 3 children that we have today.
35 plus years later (sober since May 2,1973) God is still my main focus. I will try anything to share that great love... even keep going after the worst head injury 18 years ago.
My life is good....married to the same woman for 35 years and we have 3 kids and 5 grandkids...and my wife and I have served in some sort of ministry helping "broken people" (regardless of it being physically, emotionally, psychologically or spiritually broken) to discover that there is hope beyond their addiction or crisis since 1974.
I still have the birth defects in my back, legs and feet and have osteoarthritis since I was 6. Chronic pain is daily... but I am determined to not surrender any mobility unless there is no other way.
As I mentioned, I also have had more than one head injury... but the last one, one 18 years ago, changed my life more profoundly than ever. I fell from the top of a minivan on the side of the highway where I had pulled over to tighten the straps on the storage pod carrying materials while traveling home from a youth camp. I somehow blacked out from a standing position and landed head first into the blacktop right on my right temple. The next few months were horrendous as I had to deal with a temper that was out of control, serious short term memory loss issues and a variety of other issues that manifested themselves from the injury and the brain damage that it caused. Over time I was able to relearn and retrain most of what had been lost .. and it made me more determined than ever to take every day as my gift from God and live it to the fullest.. who knows... there may not be a tomorrow!
I had spent most of my life trying to hide my disabilities and then the pain became so profound I could not hide it any more... Other than a slight limp (most days) and occasional cane use (on the others) I look fine... but inside... that is the challenge. I am determined to live every day as if it is my last and celebrate it for the memories I make and not surrender a thing to the pain.
We started a mission church in Romeoville, Illinois over 25 years ago. During that assignment I was called on to respond to church members who were involved in a pretty bad accident. I came for them... gave them aid and comfort till the ambulance took the entire family to the hospital. Then the chief for the fire department came up and said he loved what I was able to do...would I like to be their chaplain. I agreed and that started a love for responding that has followed me though many moves and assignments across America.
Now I have been serving 26 years in a variety of places as a chaplain for both city fire departments and the county fire departments as chaplain and CISM(Critical Incident Stress Management) team member and Approved Instructor and Trained Trainer. Then, through the responses there and when I report with The Salvation Army to respond
As I came upon the need for police and fire responders as well as all others that respond to emergencies and disasters I designed a web site that has provided disaster mental health support (triage) internationally which has circumvented 4 potential suicides and helped 46 responders work through life changing traumatic issues in the first year of operation. The site is called the Emergency and Disasters Responders Support website.
Looking back on the many years of serving the Lord... we have seen and experienced so many amazing things. God has led us in so may ways.
We have served as Evangelism Directors, mission pastors, evangelists, Jail and fire chaplains, children's ministries specialists, Evangelists specializing in children and family ministry, senior pastor, mission pastor and now a trainer in many different disaster response disciplines. In every assignment winning many souls and doing all we can to disciple and restore broken lives.
Now at age 56, I continue to have a fruitful and satisfying life in service to God in any way He sees fit.
Submitted by David from California
If you have a similar story about how you have been saved for service, you can share it with us and the world. Your story could help others in their walk with the Lord.