As a teenager I knew that the Lord had called me to the mission field. I graduated from public High School in 1963, and a week later was in Kentucky where I was to work my way through Bible School. I worked on the new chapel at Mt. Carmel all summer, and in September was a freshman in the Kentucky Mountain Bible Institute. When school started I had a jump on the other students as to placement in the campus jobs because I had been working there all summer. So I got in as kind of an apprentice carpenter, and got to drive around from job to job in the open top army jeep. It just wasn't my calling in life to occupy a privileged position, and so the Lord had a dramatic event planned.
The campus was close to the river, situated up on a hill. The driveway was cut into the side of the hill and climbed steeply, winding in a sharp turn up the bank. One narrow driveway going up, and another one coming down. It got rutted and bumpy, and the staff member I had worked with a lot that summer would drive with the wheel right on the edge going up, because it was much smoother there. The bank dropped off nearly straight down, but I had gotten used to doing it that way.
We all worked every day for about an hour and a half before supper. One day I was driving the jeep back, and my passenger was a classmate, David Kushman. It had rained a lot and the driveway was real bumpy, so I went along the edge where it was smooth. This experience was clearly designed by God and executed by the Angels. As I went up the driveway, I kind of slipped into a trance. I could see everything that was happening, but had no reason or control. I always had good peripheral vision, and I could even see Dave lift his right foot off the floor and place it on the cut-out side of the open army jeep, but I couldn't reason why he was doing it because I couldn't see the huge wash out cut into the edge of the driveway. The last thing I saw was Dave hop out, and immediately the left tire fell into the big hole, and then my vision was blacked out. The jeep somehow flipped over the side so violently that it threw me out into the air. I did have situational awareness in the sense that I knew clearly where I was going to hit the ground, and that the jeep was going to land on top of me, but I could see nothing.
So it became quite clear to me as I was going through the air that now I would surely die. And at that moment there was only one singular thought and emotion that I experienced. There was absolutely no fear or being scared, but I was very, very, sad because now I wouldn't be able to answer the Lord's call to be a missionary! In fact I was overwhelmed with grief that I wouldn't be able to use my life to serve the Lord. That sadness seemed to last a very long time. Then a different thought came to my mind. Although I knew where I was in relation to things, I had no idea at all as to my physical position, and there was a good chance when I hit the ground that I could push my body out of harms way. But since I was totally blind, I would have to wait until I hit the ground to feel my position, and jump or push.
So I waited in great anticipation. When I did feel contact with the ground, I was swept back into all my sadness, because the only part of me touching the ground was my shoulder blades, and my legs were folded back over my head. I couldn't even touch the ground with either my legs or arms...I heard the corner of the jeep tear into the hillside beside me and knew it was coming right on top of me. This was immediately below the west side of two of the girls dorms, and many of them saw the scene out their windows as they were getting ready to go to supper. They saw the jeep land right on top of me in that position, and no-one who saw it had any hope I could have lived through that. They winched in terror as they saw me die. As the jeep actually came on me I have no memory of it at all.
The next thing I remember was that I was standing on the very steep hill side looking at the jeep in the corn field way below. It had rolled and flipped many times, but ended up on it's wheels. It wouldn't idle all day, but now I could hear it setting there running. That amused me. My only feeling was great embarrassment at pulling a stunt like this with such a huge audience. Somebody, maybe Dave, went down and turned it off. I hurried to get ready for supper. I knew I had really blown it, and I just wanted to get through the next part without having to be seen any more than necessary. I cleaned up and was one of the first to slip into the dinning hall, hardly fifteen minutes after the wreck. I glanced over and saw Mrs. Myers standing at the head of her table, and a momentary glance was all I could handle. She was in deep shock, white as a sheet, and just staring straight ahead into space. I was afraid for her.
Mrs. Myers lost her entire family years before in the flood, when a wall of water took away the original campus two miles up the river, and the town of Vancleve as well. She was taken down river also, but miraculously lived through it. There was always a very strange identity between us that no one else on the campus shared. We never discussed it, but I realize now that she recognized God's design that some day I was to share the same depths of pain she lived in, and that was the identity we felt so strong between us.
It cost me $30.00 to replace the steering column in the jeep. (Was that thing built tough or what?) But the day of my appointed humiliation had come. I was taken off the carpentry job, and for the entire three years of School, (it was a three year college), my job was to run the floor buffer! As soon as I got out of school I would have to learn all the construction skills on my own, because I would be involved in that a lot in all the missions I would work in. But for now, every day, I had to stay inside, and run the buffer. I could do it with two fingers, and it was a common scene for me to be running it back forth in a hallway, when someone would come along and say, "Let me try that." They would grip both handles and squeeze the switch, and every time it would crash into the wall out of control with me laughing at them. The odd one would do it twice before giving up.
I never discussed the wreck with any of the staff or students to this day, and it's only in recent years that I really understood it. "You can't die until God's purpose is fulfilled", I had been told.