Arctic Barnabas Ministries looks forward to the Fralics raising the needed support to join our full-time staff in ministry. Especially during support raising, families are challenged to trust and follow God’s lead. Read how a recent accident impacted Greg and Patty’s life.
We chuckle about our order off the fifty-five plus menu at Denny’s as we climb back into our car. Across the street, we fill up with gas, our last stop before home from our holiday trip to Arizona. 1,400 miles down, 200 more to go.
Patty pulls onto Interstate 5 in Chehalis, but the traffic slows even before she sets the cruise control. She watches cars behind us in the rearview mirror to make sure people realize our deceleration. It looks like a long wait so I send a quick text home so they know we’ll be home tonight.
Like a light switch, I come back from a blackout. Our car spins violently! Glass shatters, metal crunches, tires screech, and six airbags explode! The smell of raw fuel, burnt tires, and the explosive materials to deploy airbags fill the cockpit. I try to reach for Patty, but centrifugal force pins me to my seat.
White pillowed airbags surround me and seem lit up from the inside with intensely bright spot lights. The light must come from the headlights of other cars on the freeway, but the brightness and intensity never change. Time stands still as we continue to spin uncontrollably.
Then everything stops. I yell, “Baby are you alright? Patty, say something!!” I kick my door open and run around to the driver’s side of the car, scared to death of what I might find.
Patty starts screaming. At first, no words just screams of disbelief. Then words come, “The dogs, the dogs….!”
In the darkness it hits me. The back of the car no longer exists!
The cargo area behind the back seats…
The back seats…
The dog kennel…
Only the front seat area remains. Everything else. . . gone. I look around. My mind struggles to make sense of what I see.
With help from several kind first responders, we gather ourselves and move to the shoulder of the highway, more of a glorified ditch, really. Patty remains hysterical from the reality that we lost both dogs. I’m numb and in shock. When Patty finally speaks coherently, she says, “How could God let this happen to us?”
“You can’t blame God for this Baby, He loves us and He’s always faithful. Remember, He always works for our good. We have to praise Him, now more than ever.” After that, we huddle together in the ditch and pray like never before. Tears flow as we let our love for our Lord pour out and thank Him for miraculously sparing us that night. We realize He undoubtedly saved us for a purpose because there was no way we should have survived, a sentiment later affirmed by three state troopers at different times. We know in our hearts we survived to continue our plans to serve in Alaska as pastoral care missionaries with Arctic Barnabas.
After we spend time with the Lord and make peace with our faith, amazing faith-building things happen. I found Jaeger’s body earlier and asked the state troopers to look for our other dog’s body while they walked the scene. About twenty minutes later while we sit in the ditch and wait for paramedics, a trooper walks up with our little Josh under his arm. He found him in someone else’s car. How did he survive with no life-threatening injuries?!
After that, God-sightings in people continues. The paramedics let us take Josh into the ambulance with all our surviving personal items. The emergency room workers ignore the presence of our dog. The hotel staff goes completely out of their way to accommodate our privacy and take care of us while we spend three nights there before we head home. The veterinary clinic treats Josh and boards him for two days at no cost. The Washington State Patrol brings us what remains of Greg’s Bible. They also bring Jaeger’s body in the middle of the night for us to give him a fitting end and bring him home with us. God continues to minister to us through our home church family and our ministry family at Arctic Barnabas. The outpouring of support and love from these two bodies overwhelms us, uplifts us, and exemplifies God’s glory.
Life absolutely changed for us that night in the ditch. We went from great loss to gain an eternal perspective. While we thought we possessed a strong faith and understanding of God prior to the accident, we realized we met the real Jesus that night in the ditch. We experienced His strength as He held us up in this time of tragedy and showed us people full of goodness and love. Jesus uniquely confirmed He still wants us here to do His Kingdom work.