I wrote this article ten years ago. It's about my friend Dr. Guy and our unchanging God.
-- P. D. Bramsen, September 2009
“Dr. Guy has been in a terrible auto accident. He isn’t dead yet, but he is going to die!”
This was the message delivered to the United Nations office in Niamey, Niger.
When the hospital workers saw Guy’s massive injuries, their thought was, “Let's not waste our medical supplies on him. He will not survive.” But he did survive. And this past Sunday, here in Senegal, Guy testified of God’s gracious and miraculous intervention in his life. It is a testimony worth repeating.
Guy and Dina are faithful followers of Christ from Brazzaville, Congo. They have two small children. Several years ago, Guy and Dina came to Senegal as medical students. They spent extended times with us here in our town while Guy worked as a surgical intern in the local hospital. Guy and Dina were an integral and beloved part of the family of believers here whenever they were in town. At the hospital, Dr. Guy bore a holy and powerful testimony for the one true God before his Muslim colleagues. He also proved himself to be a skilled surgeon.
In 1997, Guy took his family to Niger to work as a volunteer surgeon in a United Nations’ humanitarian program. Guy turned down a higher salary in order to serve in a village hospital, about an hour’s drive outside Niamey, Niger’s Capital. The people of Loga, the village in which he works, are syncretistic Muslims. Most are in bondage to drugs and witchcraft. Guy and Dina’s prayer was that many would be turned from darkness to the Light. With the help of followers of Jesus who live in Niamey, Guy directed various efforts to teach God's Good News in his village. These efforts were met, however, with unified resistance from the local religious leaders. Guy and Dina kept praying, “Lord, whatever it takes, give us a way to communicate your Truth to these people!”
God made a way.
Sunset, January 27, 1999. Guy and a villager were driving along the desertic highway that runs from Niamey to Loga. Suddenly, an oncoming truck swerved into their lane. Guy’s passenger panicked, grabbed the steering wheel. Guy put a headlock on his passenger, avoided the truck, but could not keep the car on the road. His Toyota station wagon flipped into a ten-foot-deep gully, landing on its roof. Amazingly, Guy’s panicky passenger sustained only minor injuries (though mercifully knocked unconscious!). When Guy regained consciousness ten hours later, he found himself in a Niamey hospital. His head was gouged open and swollen to twice its normal size. His right shoulder, arm and hand were crushed, bones protruding. Everyone knew Guy would die. Everyone except God, that is.
After two weeks in the hospital, the prognosis on Guy changed from, “He will not survive” to “He will survive, but will never again work as a surgeon.” Guy suffered from extreme vertigo, memory loss and a dysfunctional right arm and hand. Realizing that the doctor’s prognosis was probably correct, he began to think and pray about what to do with the rest of his life. That’s when his three-year-old son began to pray, “God, please heal daddy’s head and shoulder and arm and hand so that he can be a doctor again!” Through his little boy’s simple and sincere prayers, Guy began to have a settled peace that God would grant him complete healing. “Out of the mouth of babes and infants You have ordained strength....” (Psalm 8:2) Less than two months later, despite an ill-equipped hospital and a negligent and fatalistic medical staff, Guy was back to being “a doctor again” and performing surgical operations full-time. To God be the glory.
Three days after the accident, some United Nations employees went to retrieve the wrecked vehicle. They looked and looked, but could not find it. Finally, they asked at a nearby village. “Oh, yes, we know where it is. We helped get the victims out,” said the villagers, “but you will never find the car unless someone guides you to it.” The vehicle had come to rest in a spot which could not be seen from the road, about a kilometer from the nearest village. The U.N. employee asked, “How did you even know about the accident?” A villager replied, “A white pastor came and told us to come help. He showed us where the car was. It was totally crushed. We didn’t know what to do, but the pastor showed us how to extract the victims. Then he helped us up to the road where we flagged down a car to take the two men to the hospital.”
Some time later, Dina and a few others from the small, close-knit evangelical community tried to find this “white pastor” (as the villagers’ dubbed him). No one knew anything. Who was this mysterious person who had saved Guy’s life? And what was he doing out in the middle of nowhere, on foot, after dark? Why did he never check back on Guy? Fact is, no one ever heard from him again. Perhaps the best clue to his identity is found in Hebrews 1:14 : “Are [the angels] not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?”
When Dina went to the U.N. headquarters to look at the wrecked vehicle, she wept, “Lord! Where was Guy in this twisted piece of metal?” The driver’s seat was broken and flattened by the crushed roof. There was no room for a survivor. How did Guy survive? The answer came to Dina’s heart, “Your husband was hidden in Christ.” “He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91:11)
Guy spent five weeks in two hospitals. During this time, the Lord intervened for him in many ways. One day, a doctor ordered a certain injection along with a series of x-ray scans. Guy knew of cases where patients had allergic reactions to this shot and died. He had a strange premonition that the injection would kill him, yet he knew he couldn’t expect the x-ray technician to go against the doctor’s orders. When the technician sensed Guy’s uneasiness, he said, “Hey, you don’t need this shot! We’ll just do the scan.” Weeks later, Guy learned that, back in his home church, on the very day the technician overrode the doctor’s order, some believers had been impressed to pray and fast for Guy, “that God would preserve his life.” “And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. . . . The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:15-16)
The best part of this story is how God has used this “accident” to change the attitudes of the people of the village in which Guy works. Before his accident, no one heeded God’s good news message of salvation. Now most of the villagers are at least giving an ear. Recently, when a gospel film was shown, 1500 of the 2000 villagers attended. Several have transferred their trust from their religion and witchcraft to the Lord Jesus Christ and what He did for them by His substitutionary death and victorious resurrection. Not surprisingly, these new believers are now facing fierce persecution from the community. But God is at work — because His servants were willing to pray, “Lord, whatever it takes...”
Yes, “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform...” As this old hymn goes on to say:
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain:
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!” (Hebrews 13:8)
Paul D. Bramsen - September 1999