God Had Us
My name is Beren, I am the husband of my beautiful wife, Kristie, who has been the biggest blessing that God has ever given me. She is more than a wife, she is my partner, she is my strength, she gives me everything to be able to go out and do what I need to do. Together, we’ve got four amazing boys and they range at this stage from 17, down to nine. I guess my journey with God through my faith has been a very, very rocky one. It has had some huge highs and some devastating lows.
I think one of the things that sort of stands out to me is the fact that I was raised in a Christian home and from very early, obviously going to church, and never ever really felt that I ever really fit. I was always part of a community and I was always part of whatever was going on. But at a very early age, by early teenage years, I’d already decided this wasn’t for me. And I’m out.
So I met Kristie, we were both not in church at that time, she had previously been saved when she was 11 and we sort of found each other out in the world, so to speak. That journey took us very quickly into parenthood. As soon as Kristie found out she was pregnant, she was back in church, which was not the journey that I was ready for.
There were some Sunday mornings where I had quite literally stumbled straight out of the club, not going home maybe. One of the major clubs that we used to go to was literally right next door to the church that Kristie used to go to. So there were some mornings I’d come out and just sort of walk down the road and then walk straight into the church, just sort of still under the effects of the night before shall we put it. The church welcomed us in and did everything they could to support us. They were amazing from that point of view.
Kristie and I finally got married when our eldest was about 14 months old. This led us to what I think was probably one of the biggest, most significant parts of our journey, which is we ended up, through a series of moves, we ended up in Townsville. Townsville, from where we’re at at the moment, is about 2200 kilometers away. It’s at the very, very north of Queensland.
When we moved there that obviously separated us from anything and everyone we knew. This was done not long after we’re married; so very newly married, first time living just the two of us by our own, in a whole new city where we knew absolutely no one and didn’t have easy access to anyone. This is 15 or so years ago. So even, well it wasn’t Zoom back then, it was Skype, and it was all sorts of other things to try and stay in contact. But we can look back now and God even had us then. Because what it did is, it forced Kristie and I to come out from underneath both of our parents. Again, we were still very young at this stage in our early early 20s and it forced us to come out from them. It forced us to start looking at who is around us and who could support us.
We found a little church and I remember going in there and there was another guy and he had his two boys, one slightly older and one slightly younger than our boy Drake, and we got chatting. He’s like, “Oh, do you want to come over to our house on Wednesday for dinner?” We thought, Oh yeah, that’s cool, trying to meet people. Long story short, they became our family and the group that they were hosting, they became our very, very tight knit group of people that held us together while we were there. Even that, in itself, is amazing because they gave Kristie support and structure, they gave us friendship, they gave us wisdom. And, and not just obviously the couple that were hosting it, but there was probably about four, and then kind of a fifth couple. We were all really, really tight. And so that was wonderful and we went on.
That was in 2007, we moved up there, and in 2008, as a birthday present, my wife got me a new motorbike. We hadn’t been able to hold on to any of my previous ones when we moved. When we moved into a new location, we had a great position and so she bought me a new motorbike for my birthday, which is wonderful. I would love to say that motorbike had a long life, but it didn’t.
What had happened is that on one of these Wednesday nights, Kristie and I had met from separate locations, and we’d met at the Life Group. We’d done Life Group together and then we were on our way home. All of this is now what I have to tell you from other people telling me because it’s not part of my memory.
I’d overtaken Kristie, and then was coming back into our lane, a car, which was parked on the opposite side of the road, like facing the opposite way to the way we were coming, had turned on its headlights, started the car, and then done a U turn right in front of me. It had left me with almost nowhere to go. Now the police report says that I did everything that I could to avoid the collision, but I ended up laying the bike down before we collected with the car. The bike and I had, at some point, separated. The bike had hit the front of the car and then kept spinning off down the street. I wasn’t as fortunate to keep sliding which might have been okay for me. But I ended up coming to a very hard stop underneath the front tire of the car. And that had been with the left hand side of my ribcage was the main area of impact, right there.
One of the things to consider here is that Kristie was in the car with one of our other friends and with Drayk, and they essentially watched all of this happen. From Kristie’s words, all she saw was me riding, I’ve overtaken, come back down like, into our lane and then all of a sudden, the bike’s laying on the ground. There’s sparks flying everywhere and Jesus had her and me. There was one lovely old lady that Kristie remembers that came out and sort of supported her and there’s someone else that came out and just started praying over me.
Whoever made the phone call to the ambulance, I don’t know who, but the particular street that we were on, the ambulance station was like two blocks down and then kind of on the corner of a side street just there. Literally, the police report that I had said the phone, I’ll make up the numbers, but essentially the phone call was made at 9pm and the ambulance arrived on scene at 9:02pm. It was literally two minutes. I don’t know the exact start and end time but I know that within two minutes or two and a half minutes the ambulance was on scene.
During the car ride to the hospital, Kristie called anyone and everyone that she knew that she had to. So by this stage one of my best mates had moved up to Townsville, so he’d been called. Her parents have been called, my parents have been called, and our life group had been called. Everyone from our life group, amazingly, within a very short period of time, had found babysitters for all their kids. They all came and just sat in the hospital with Kristie for hours, and hours and hours.
I was obviously rushed into ED (Emergency Department) where Kristie was asked to come in and see me. We now reflect back on that, and go, even at that point, right then, in the triage before it even got to surgery, we believe that Kristie had probably been brought in to see me at that point, because there was no belief that I would make it through. At that point, they could already see the damage that had been done and they were asking Kristie to come in and sort of come and see me again, and, and then they sort of kept her off to the side.
I was rushed up to surgery and if we start going through some of, I guess the injuries that I sustained during that stage, if we start at the head, which is obviously one of the biggest, most important things that they want to concentrate on at that stage. But if you ever see an X-ray, your brain should be white and the fluid around it should be black. Well, when they did mine, everything was gray, there was no determination between what they could or couldn’t figure out was where everything was. So I’d had a massive, obviously, shake to the head enough so that they couldn’t get a good scan done.
I had a basal skull fracture. I broke both sides of my left shoulder blade. My police report says they stopped counting the fractures in my ribcage at 30 because they had other things to move on with and try and figure out what was going on. I’d had one punctured lung and then somewhere during that first night, my other lung deflated as well.
There was this amazing guy, his name is Kenny, Fijian guy, and he’d just finished a huge shift at the hospital when I came in. He stood there with – you’ve seen it before in Grey’s Anatomy or anything, they put the little mask thing over your mouth, and there’s a bag and there’s a guy pumping the bag. Well, he stood there and pumped air into me for hours and hours and hours and hours. Because one of the things that happened during this time is that I didn’t take to the machines that I was meant to take to, that were meant to feed oxygen to me. So he stood there after his shift is already over and done and just stood there pumping air into me.
Anyway, internal damaging, lots of bruises and cuts and all sorts of stuff. They end up having to open me up and put a trach in to try and help me breathe at one point. I had a splenectomy because of massive internal bleedings. And then as we just move down, just huge cuts and bruises and scrapes and all sorts of stuff from sliding down across the road.
During that night, during that first night, there was a couple of interesting things that happened. Kristie was asked to come in a couple of times. One of the times that she was asked to come in they said, “Would you like us to get you a priest or a minister?” Kristie, being a little bit blase’ after watching this motorbike accident and being in this environment, she’s like, “Oh, what’s that for?” And it was, “Well, people like to say their final rites, or have someone bless them over their final moments and those types of things.” Still not quite comprehending the fact that this meant, ‘We don’t think he’s going to survive.’ she said, “I don’t think so, but I’ve got my life group leader out in the hall. Can he come in?” So he came in and and literally walked into the room, saw blood and guts and all sorts of stuff just all over the place, nearly threw up and dry heaving right there and just turned around, walked straight back out. He’s like, “No, I can’t do that, I’m so sorry.”
We had one of our other couples, she came in and on the way to the hospital, her husband had got up to the hospital first. He called her and he said, “You’ve got to find a babysitter. I need you to come here. I really think that you’re gonna raise dry bones tonight.” And she said, “That’s fine.”
When Ces finally came in, they’re pumping air into me, they’ve talked about the fact that I’m still not taking to any of the life support machines, I’m just using up all the blood. She came in and pretty much just started pushing doctors and nurses out of the way. She climbed up onto the bed pretty much and just like laid hands on me, just speaking in tongues at the top of her voice and just like praying her heart out. This is an amazing woman who just sort of gave everything to the situation right then and sort of just took an environment that should have been for medical practitioners and just went, No, I’ll do this my way. I’ll do this the way that God asked me to do it. She just did that and that was awesome.
She was still with Kristie through the, obviously, the early hours of the morning. Kristie talks about the fact that the jingle came on for the news and Kristie and Ces said that they turned to each other and they said, “Did you feel that? Did you, like…” Not, do you sense that? Not, do hear that? It was, “Do you feel that?” is the words that you use every time they tell this story. And they said, “Yes, I do.”
They turned to the doctors and they said, “Can you? Can you… I know you’ve said to us that it’s up to him now. Can you try and put him back on the life support system?” And they did. They hooked me up to the breathing machine. They hooked me up and I took to all of it. And so at that moment in time, we knew things had changed.
That was the six o’clock news in the morning. I’m not sure when Sess came in. The whole group had been outside essentially praying for me since the moment I got to the hospital. I don’t know the specifics, I can tell you how far and wide these prayers had gone. At the moment that it was happening. – I’m sure that you’ve heard of Hillsong here in Australia. – Hillsong conference happened to be on at that particular time. The whole of the conference, we’re talking 40,000 people or so, had been pretty much stopped in the middle of something with an urgent prayer request for some boy that was on life support, just been in a terrible motorbike accident, not sure he’s going to make it through the night. And it wasn’t till years later, years later, and obviously we were down there, we were serving at Hillsong conference 10 years afterwards and I put up a little memorial thing. That’s when friends of ours who we’d met fairly recently. But like we were here 10 years ago, we remember that, like that stood out to us. We stood there, we prayed for whoever you were back then; we didn’t know you.
One of our other pastors, he was in a different conference happening in South America at the time, that he was over there for a Leaders Conference. So it wasn’t just like a normal church conference, it was a conference just for pastors and key leadership team and it somehow got over to them. They were praying at some point during the process as well. For some reason, there were a lot of people praying for me that night. And I was very, very grateful for all of that.
I guess, coming out of that, I obviously took to the machines and things, obviously started getting a little bit better then. But as I said, I was in a coma for about five days and every time they tried to bring me out of the coma, I hadn’t taken to the… hadn’t taken to, I guess the change in environment when they started taking me off life support. I’d started bottoming out, I’d started dropping all vitals every time they tried to do it. By the sort of fourth day or so they’re like, “We’re going to try again tomorrow. If that doesn’t happen, we’re going to have to start thinking about what else we can do.”
Kristie tells the story that on the fifth day, Kristie had been home – she’d obviously been home a couple of times between that – and it wasn’t until the fact that she’d always rung the hospital prior to going up just to sort of see if there was any change and those other things. Kristie woke on that last sort of day and took a phone call from the hospital. And she said that when she heard, “Hi. It’s whoever from the hospital…” Kristie just broke down, sort of dropped the phone, and thinking the worst obviously, because hospital never called her, and the fact that they were calling…It was good news though. The lady at the other end was able to encourage her and get her back on the phone saying, “No, no, it’s okay. It’s okay. He’s awake and he’s asking for you.”
When she came up, the procession that she saw when she got out of the elevator and walked in, all the doctors and nurses that had been on pretty much just lined the corridor between the elevator and my bed so that Kristie could sort of see them more or less as she came around and sort of got to me. Obviously, that wasn’t, that wasn’t the end of the journey and that definitely wasn’t the end of the struggles and those types of things. But you can sort of see through this process that God has had us from the beginning, and has continued to support us, and continued to support her and continued to, like see us through.
But like, some of the little things that you don’t even realize is that, when they had that X ray, they’re like, “We don’t know if he’s going to wake up.” You could see that from the first five days. They tried to bring me out, like I didn’t take to any of the life support machines to begin with for the first nine hours or so. And then I couldn’t come off life support for at least five days, because I just kept bottoming out with all my vitals and those type of things. So they said, “We don’t even know if he’s gonna wake up and if he does wake up, we don’t know if he’s going to be a vegetable or not. If he’s not like that, what level of capability is he going to have again? And if he does, we don’t even know if he’ll walk again. But if he does, like, he’s going to be in hospital for anywhere between six to 12 months probably, recovering from this.” I mean, she’d already been asked if she wanted a minister to come and say final rites. So we’ve had all spectrum of things, to the point where I walked out of hospital, essentially, a month after the motorbike accident.
Obviously, God saved us.
I have a letter from the hospital. Get this, my surgeon, or the main surgeon that I had, on that night that oversaw all of my surgeries, his name was Dr. John Hack, how’s that for a surname for a surgeon? Dr. Hack. He was obviously who I saw for all my follow ups, but I had five major doctors working with me that night. Together, they had over 120 years worth of experience. I have a letter from them, saying that I made a miraculous recovery. That with all of their experience, there was no way they could have kept me alive that night. And this is coming from a non Christian doctor with the support of four of his other peers on a note that says that ‘There’s no way we could have kept you alive. Something has happened far beyond the natural.’
And I guess from my point of view, the spiritual journey that I’ve been on has been one of growing faith and it’s getting stronger the more time that goes past. I think that’s been one of my coolest journeys recently, of now reading stories and now hearing sermons of people that have essentially like, in the Bible it talks about it over and over again, different people in different areas going through mass troubles and not being perfect people, but then going on to influence and support and strengthen entire nations. I guess that’s what I’m holding on to, which is this idea of going, “Okay, well, I don’t know what my story means to someone else. But if God has a plan for it, then let Him use it.”