I got off work early one day recently due to a series of events. On the way home I barely avoided a semi-truck and trailer that crossed four lanes of traffic, through a ditch, iron fence, and into the corner of an apartment building. The accident happened about as fast as it took you to read that last sentence. Previous experience and training prepared me to assist in such an event.
A nurse stopped her car behind mine and quickly worked to get to the truck driver. There were no immediate dangers such as fire or building collapse so I began to follow her orders. The truck doors were locked and the windows up. It was clear the driver was not conscious. Jenny, the nurse, realized the man was turning blue and ordered the window to be broken. I had tools in my car that included a large hammer. It took three strong hits to break the window. As Jenny worked on removing the seatbelt we watched the driver die. In that moment police and medics arrived. In the next moments an officer helped remove the driver from the truck and she and the nurse began CPR. The medics quickly took over and were able to resuscitate the driver. As of the writing of this blog the man is in the hospital in critical condition having suffered a major heart attack that caused the accident to occur.
The driver of the truck, whom I found out is named Jack, was revived by cooperative efforts of several people. Without further care he would have died again in a short amount of time. Jack will require much rehabilitation to fully recover, if at all. The medical attention he needs now is very different from what was required at the time of the crash. Because he was unconscious, Jack may never know the people involved in his rescue.
Although several people were involved in saving the drivers life you will not find any of their names listed in the news account of the accident. You will also not find any of them that feel heroic. I saw the emotion on the officers’ face. I have spoken with Nurse Jenny and know her concern is for the driver and his family. All of us involved did what we knew how and could do in that moment of crisis. Most everyday heroes are not remembered. The ones that are remembered for a single act usually have many stories of assisting others that are forgotten. I wonder if some respond helpfully in a crisis because of their training or if because of their willingness to help others they get trained.
Reflecting on the events of that day caused me to think about evangelism and discipleship. I have been involved in either the evangelism or discipleship process many times in my life. Often an opportunity to share the good news of Christ is found in times of crisis. In the case of the accident I wrote about the first responders could be likened to those that do the work of an evangelist. Their actions were born out of personal preparation as well as a desire to keep a man from death. Every person is by nature spiritually dead. At the moment an individual receives Christ as their Lord and savior they are brought to new life. The process of leading a person to the redemptive knowledge of Jesus is rarely a solo effort; most often several people are involved in some way. Usually when a person comes alive spiritually they are in critical condition. Every person has a unique past prior to becoming a Christian. Mentoring a new believer requires something other than a one size fits all approach.
Without the proper mentoring a person may soon go back to the way of spiritual death. Sometimes a person remains in critical condition for years because proper spiritual care is not given. Like a hospital staff, discipleship may require several people in a church community to assist a new believer to spiritual maturity. Each situation is unique. To disciple a young person usually requires a different approach than mentoring a middle aged adult that is a new believer.
It is easy to forget the efforts of those that helped lead oneself to Christ. Many times people are not conscious of those trying to help them spiritually. It is easy to get discouraged in the process of becoming spiritually healthy. It is also easy to be impatient with those that are not living up to “Christian standards”. For many people a life of wrong choices creates a heart condition that causes them to crash. In that moment of helplessness is when God sends the right people that can assist in the restoration process. Sometimes it is a long road to full recovery. Be patient with others as well as yourself. Remember those that lovingly helped you when critical care was needed.
Rev. Burt Schwab
November 29, 2014