By Barbara Thayer –
The mission of Love INC of Linn County is to transform lives and communities in the name of Christ. What does that look like? How does that work? Many people ask the question and it is sometimes hard to articulate. I hope my experience will offer a snap shot of what can happen through Love In the Name of Christ. May each one who hears of this story give all the glory to God.
My name is Barbara and I was privileged to be a part of the development team for Love INC of Linn County. One warm evening in May of 2005, my husband, Jarred and I decided to go grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant on Pacific Boulevard. As we waited in line to place our orders, a woman suddenly burst through the doors and screamed, “Somebody call 911, there’s been a terrible accident out front!” Jarred and I gave each other a quick glance and without words, we both headed toward the scene, not knowing what we would find. I don’t recall which one of us made the call to 911 but evidently others had also called in because the dispatcher knew what accident we were referring to.
As we approached the scene, there were many people standing around but nobody seemed to know what to do. My eyes could hardly believe what I was seeing. I had never seen the results of a motorcycle and car collision but this was my introduction to the damage that can occur when such a tragedy takes place. A man lie on the pavement, bleeding, struggling to take a breath, his face was unrecognizable. The impact of the collision caused his helmet to leave his once-protected head. While Jarred tended to the couple in the car, I ran to the man who lie on the pavement. I remember praying, “Lord, what can I do? Help me to help him.” It seemed there was nothing physically I could do that was going to help this man survive. I felt very inadequate and ill-equipped for such a situation. The Lord spoke to my heart in an instant, saying, “Pray. Barbara, you get down on your knees, lay your hands on his body and pray for this man.” I did just that. By this time, there were probably over thirty bystanders, just watching. I was not concerned at the time with getting contaminated with blood. The only thing that mattered at that very moment was crying out to God to spare this man’s life. In my heart, I felt a sense of urgency regarding this man’s very soul.
There I was, on the pavement with a dying man. One other man came to the aid of the man on the pavement. He spoke words of encouragement, as did I, saying, “Come on buddy, keep breathing, hang in there, help is on the way.” In between encouraging this critically injured man to keep breathing, I prayed, asking that God would spare this man’s life. Though I don’t recall my prayer in it’s entirety, I do remember asking that the Lord would give this man a second chance to accept Him into his heart if he hadn’t done so already. Time seemed to stand still and it felt like forever before the ambulance would arrive, though it was probably only minutes.
Soon, the ambulance arrived and I walked away, searching for my husband, who was still helping with the couple in the car. A woman approached me as I walked away from the scene. She said to me, “He’s not going to make it, is he?” I responded by saying, “God can do ANYTHING.” The intriguing aspect of her question and my response was that I really knew God could save that man’s life but the evidence wasn’t in his favor. I believe that is what we call faith. Hebrews 11:1 tells us Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
After Jarred was done with what God had called him to do at the scene, we went home and prayed and prayed and prayed. A couple days later, I read in the newspaper that this man had survived, though was life-flighted to Portland, in critical condition. Every day on my way to work, I drove over the very spot where this man had fought for his life in the moments following the accident. I prayed every day as I passed that place.
A couple of years after the accident, the Love INC of Linn County development team invited Wilma Van Schelven, the executive director of Love INC of Benton County to come and speak about how Love In the Name of Christ changes lives. As she began telling the story of a man who had been in a motorcycle accident, it became clear that she was talking about the very man whom the Lord had me pray for as he lie on the pavement, dying. Wilma told us that Love INC had received a call from this man’s girlfriend, requesting that someone come and visit the couple. This couple did not have a church family and yet were reaching out for fellowship and unconditional love. Love INC of Benton County was able to connect this couple and their children with one of their volunteers who would go and spend time and pray with them. Through Love INC partnering churches, some tangible, physical needs were also met.
The initial trauma of the accident was only the beginning for this family…