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A Smile in Adversity



by Raquel Ehmer

I was born in Cacahuatepec, Oaxaca, Mexico, where my parents were missionaries. I was the fourth child, following three boys. After me three more girls were born and another boy. We were brought up in the ways of God. I am so thankful to have had parents, who taught us early about Him.

I was still young (six-years-old), when I realized that I was a sinner and needed a Savior. I remember, I was playing outside under a big tree. My older brother, Steve, told me that if the tree would fall on me and kill me, I would go to hell, because Jesus hadn’t saved me. That shook me up and I didn’t feel like playing anymore. I wandered around our yard, pondering what I should do. I finally went to find Mom. She took me into Dad’s study, where she explained to me that everyone was a sinner and needed to be saved. When she asked me if I wanted to pray to Jesus to ask Him to save me and live in my heart, I became excited. I was very happy after praying. I wasn’t afraid of trees falling on me anymore, because Jesus had saved me!
  A few days later, I was in school and the teacher was leading devotions. She said, “It isn’t enough to ask Jesus into your heart. It’s also important to make right the things that are wrong in your life and ask people you wronged for forgiveness.” That wouldn’t be easy, but I started to ask forgiveness from everyone, who came to mind. The hardest thing for me to confess was stealing a chocolate bar from my friend, Merry Elva. I saved that confession until last. It was difficult, but after it was done, I had peace.

In 1979, my family moved to Minnesota and then, seven years later, to Germany. There, I met and married Tom Ehmer. We settled down in a town near Augsburg in Bavaria. In 1994, a little baby girl, Jessica, was born to us. On June 14, l995, she was seven-months-old and I read a child devotional book, written by Joni Erickson Tada. It had a special prayer: “Please be with my daddy today; he has so much to think about. Be with him in a special way.” I thought to myself, “That does not really relate to us today,” without realizing how much we all would need the Lord’s presence in a matter of hours and in the months to come.

Plans suddenly smashed
We planned, after Tom finished work, to go out to eat. He would have the next four days free and we were looking forward to spending time with our families. It was nice that my brother, Dan, and his family were up from Macedonia, where they served the Lord as missionaries. Then, in two weeks, we’d be driving to Ireland for the wedding of another brother, Dave. It all sounded like lots of fun.

Dan and his wife, Shelley, had spent several hours with us that morning. Afterwards, I put Jessica in my backpack and took her out for a walk. She loved to be outside. It was raining and we walked under an umbrella. Tom arrived and we hopped in the car to have supper in Augsburg. I sat in the back with Jessica. A few miles down the road, a car in the opposite lane pulled out to pass a truck, directly into our path. There was no time to even touch the brake. We actually don’t remember anything from the accident. The 32-year-old man in the car that hit us was killed.

Tom received a few bruises, Jessica broke a bone in her leg, but I was seriously injured. I broke the fifth vertebrae in my spine and had internal injuries from the seat belt. I remember a little of the helicopter ride to Munich. I slipped in and out of consciousness. I knew that I had a lot of pain and the helicopter was noisy. A doctor on duty said I arrived at the hospital more dead than alive. When I became fully conscious, it was June 15th and I was in intensive care, following two four-hour surgeries.

Paralysis and Peace
Another doctor explained my injuries and told me that, having survived the surgeries and a tremendous loss of blood, everything else would heal – but I would be paralyzed. At that moment, something neat happened. I felt peace. I was happy and I didn’t care that I couldn’t walk. The feeling surprised me and so was the doctor surprised. He wanted to know why I was smiling. I knew that God was near. If someone had told me beforehand that an accident of this nature would occur, I would have been very upset. However, when it actually did happen, God’s grace was already at work within me. Hebrews 4:16 says “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we might obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” It became clear to me from that moment that God had a plan for my life. Why else would He have chosen for me to live through the accident?

After a few weeks in the Munich hospital, I spent four months in a rehabilitation hospital near Ulm. Instead of finding it difficult, God turned it into a blessed, happy time. Tom started calling the hospital “our second home”. Through it all, we had peace and contentment that none could understand. I don’t know how it functions. I just know it works.

We had many chances to share with others. We met the wife and family of the man who was killed in the other car and formed a friendship. We are praying still for their salvation.

Divine purpose and heavenly help
I wondered how I’d be able to take care of my family when I got back home. In the beginning, it seemed impossible, but little by little, I learned to do things from my wheelchair. Soon, I was doing most everything without any help. In March of 1997, I had to return to the hospital to have the metal removed from my spine. I thought, “How can I leave Jessica again? How did I do it the last time so easily?” However, God was there again and helped me, so that it actually wasn’t difficult.

In 1998, we had another little girl, Rebecca Joy. The accident made me dependent on God for my little ones. I’m always calling on Him for help to keep them safe and He is faithful to protect. In fact, one day Rebecca started down the ramp outside our door in her little car, before I was able to stop her. Down the ramp she went and collided with the wall of our garage! By the time I got there, she was laughing. She thought it was fun. Rebecca is active and keeps me praying all day long!

Since the accident – certainly much more than before it – people in the U.S., as well as in Europe, have told me that I have been an encouragement and blessing to them. God has used my present situation in order to touch the lives of more people, than I ever could have touched, had the accident not taken place. We have been able to travel and share our lives with others. At this time, God has opened a door for us to live in North Dakota.

I often wonder how unbelievers get through life’s problems without God. Psalms 144:15 is one of my favorite Bible verses: “Happy is that people that is in such a case; yea, happy is that people whose God is the Lord.” ■


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