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“We didn't anticipate any issues.” Steve Hertz recalled. “It looked like a very normal evening for flying, and we were just looking forward to getting in the air.” Steve and his friend, Don St. Clair had done this hundreds of times before; prepping their gear to enjoy an evening of powered paragliding.
Steve recalls, “I think it was pushing 80 degrees. The winds were light, and it was a beautiful blue sky evening.” Don started to take off first, but when he couldn’t get his wing properly inflated, he had to abort and start over. So, Steve, with his GoPro recording, took off. He circled the field then flew to the rendezvous spot to wait for Don. Steve says, “After 10 minutes of not seeing him in the air, I decided to fly back to the airport and check on him. I saw him inflate the wing and begin to take off.”
Then… something went wrong. Don was too low and heading towards some trees that lined one side of the airfield. Steve recalls, “Normally his machine would have enough power to climb out and straighten out, and this particular evening it didn't.” Don banked hard to the right and avoided the trees. But now the wind was at his back and he was picking up speed -- heading straight toward some power lines. All Steve could do, was watch. He says, “I thought he was dead. I literally watched him turn into a ball of fire and I thought, that's not survivable. It was just the worst feeling I've ever had.”
Immediately, Steve landed at the airfield. He grabbed his phone to call 9-1-1, as he ran across the street to his friend. Steve recalls, “I was praying that he was alive. I really thought I watched a human being die.” But, as he got closer he couldn’t believe what he saw. Don was conscious and appeared to be unhurt. Steve says, “He looked up and talked to me and I thought, ‘Wow, this is a miracle.’”
Incredibly, Don recalls everything that happened. He says, “As soon as I saw I was gonna hit 'em, the only thought that went through my head is I'm dead. When I hit those lines, the whole world turned into a ball of fire. And I was just waiting literally for it all to come to an end 'cause I expected it...any minutes for the lights to go out. And instead I had the feeling of falling. And next thing I knew I was on my back on the ground looking up at the sky. I couldn't believe I was alive to be quite honest. And as I laid there, I said, ‘thank you, God,’ because I knew right away the only way I survived that was divine intervention.”
Within minutes, paramedics arrived and rushed Don to the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor. Meanwhile, Steve called Don’s wife, Karen. She recalls, “Steve's like, ‘Oh, Don's gonna be okay but he had a little accident.’ He was very calm, which was very good. I was praying instantly from that point on.”
Karen drove the 30 minutes to the hospital, praying the whole way. When she arrived, she learned Don had second and third degree burns over 25% of his body. She recalls, “Definitely the Holy Spirit was with me 'cause I don't know how I didn't panic or didn't have an anxiety attack.” Don says, “When I finally got to see Karen, first of all, I was elated to still be there. But seeing her and assuring her that I was gonna be okay and that I was gonna make it through it, that just strengthened our bond even greater.”
Now Don would begin the long process of recovery that would start with skin grafts. Karen started texting people to pray for his healing. Two days later when Don went in for skin graft surgery, his doctor discovered something remarkable. Karen recalls, “It looked like the skin was starting to heal itself. They went ahead and covered his burnt skin with pig skin to allow it to heal on his own.” Don says, “In my heart, that wasn't a surprise. Literally hundreds of people sending out prayers to me. And I know that that was part of my healing process.”
Don says those prayers also helped in the painful weeks that followed. He recalls, “I actually had waves of pain that would course through my arms, my legs, and as I, I closed my eyes and just concentrated on what was going on. And the image that came to me was that those waves were hands that were actually caressing those wounds. It was those prayers that were coursing through me, and that set me at ease.”
Just two weeks after the accident, Don’s doctors decided he was well enough to go home. Don recalls, “The surgeon had looked me over and he said, 'you're healing quickly.' I knew it was the prayers doing a good job, but I healed quicker than they expected.”
Don was soon back to his chores on their ranch and six months later, he had made a full recovery. There are few that don’t agree that Don’s survival was a miracle. Especially considering the power lines he hit were carrying 140,000 volts of electricity. He says, “When I hit those lines, the explosion knocked the breath outta me. Had I inhaled that super heated air, it would've seared my lungs. The electricity surrounded me, it should have gone through me. The gas didn't ignite or explode. The battery didn't explode. 50 foot fall should be fatal. I came down motor side first. Had it come down face first, that 85 pound engine would've crushed me. The list of things of why I know I'm blessed and why there was divine intervention is a long list because there's no way I should have survived that.”
Karen recalls, “It definitely strengthened my belief in prayer and realizing how specific you can pray.” Don adds, “Put your troubles into Jesus' hands. You'll get through this life so much better. You'll have a comfort in your soul that is unmatched by anything else.”
“By the time I met my husband, I was 20 with two boys, two different baby daddies and just very broken,” says Nikki Thompson.
Nikki Thompson had been through a string of dysfunctional relationships when she met Tony. He was older, six years clean from a long history of drug abuse and had custody of 5 of his 6 kids.
“We really did have a sweet courtship,” says Tony. “After a couple of short months, we decided that we were going to get married.”
“The first couple of years were great,” says Nikki. “We were just blending our family. Tony had his kids, I had mine. And then we had Freddy. So, it literally made us yours, mine and ours. We took the kids in the minivan to games in the park. We went camping. We did all the things that a normal family would do,” says Nikki.
During that time, Tony started a construction company and hired friends from his past.
“We thought that we were going to influence them by our family friendly lifestyle, right?” says Nikki. “Like we were going to be able to show them our happy marriage and that we didn’t allow smoking on our property, and we didn’t drink, and we didn’t do drugs and that we were going to influence them,” says Nikki. “But it was just the opposite. You know that bad company really does corrupt good morals. And within a year of the construction company there was lying, infidelity and eventually drug dealing.”
The couple separated and later divorced as Tony went back to his former ways.
“I ended up experimenting with methamphetamine, and that became a full-blown addiction. You know, that lasted about four months,” says Tony.
“Within a week, I called him and said, ‘Hey, I know you’re using. I want to get high too,’ because in my own sick, twisted mind, I thought that would get me my marriage back,” says Nikki. “Like, that was the one common bond, the thread that we did not have that would tie us together. And he came over and I was like, instantly addicted.”
Nikki’s drug use became a daily habit. At the same time, Tony was arrested and jailed for manufacturing meth.
“I got on the needle; you chase that off that that first high? And so, you find yourself doing things that you swore you have never done and just going darker and darker and darker,” says Nikki. "I had already been watching porn for a while and a girl had made a pass at me and I found myself starting to sleep with women.”
“I was going through withdrawals the first several weeks there,” says Tony. “Blaming myself, I became suicidal while I was in jail. Well, after a couple of weeks in the county jail, I was reading the Bible, and I was able to watch the TV preachers. I was hearing stuff that I’ve never heard, or I don’t recall hearing in church, you know, as a young man or a child. I began to get really interested in it. There was something about this Jesus that He’d loved me and that, you know, that He’d forgiven me all the things that I’d ever done,” says Tony. “And, I mean, I needed to hear that. I need some acceptance. I was at such a low point that that was my lifeline. So, I began to write Nikki letters and share with her what I was learning.”
“Frankly, I just thought it was jailhouse religion,” says Nikki. “Like, I was basically like, you had your shot and you blew it. Like, your whole family is scattered because of the choices you made. And I didn’t want to hear about his Jesus.”
“I was actually learning about a new life,” says Tony. “And suddenly I began to desire what this new life was offering. And that’s the direction I started going.”
“When he started writing letters further into it, he would start signing them, ‘Love always and forever, your husband, Anthony.’ And, I was like, ‘He’s an idiot. Like, we’re not even married,’” says Nikki.
After serving 18 months, Tony was released from jail. With his new faith in Jesus, He longed to restart his life with Nikki and went to see her.
“I was bombarded with thoughts like, ‘Look at how he’s looking at you, like he’s here to judge you. He can probably see the blown-out vein, like he is not going to stand by while you use drugs and just sleep around with whoever. He will take Freddy from you,” says Nikki. “And so, before I could slam the door, our son Freddy came running in because he heard Tony’s voice.”
“He was 18 months old whenever I went to prison,” says Tony. “He’d only seen me a couple of times while I was in prison. And three and a half years later, all he had to do is hear my voice. And he knew who I was. That, that tugged at my heart.”
“And he picks Freddy up, and he puts him on his lap, and he starts saying things like, ‘Freddy, Mommy and Daddy love you. And Mommy and Daddy really want to hear what you have to say. But first, Mommy and Daddy have to talk, so we need you to be the obedient boy that you are. Go in the other room. And when we’re done, we’ll come hear what you have to say,’” says Nikki. “And I had never witnessed that. Like, that was the kindness and goodness of God on display for me to see. He didn’t react in rage. He didn’t react in anger. That was complete, total self-control. All I could think was, ‘It’s not jailhouse religion. It’s real. Like something has changed in him. And if he has that kind of peace, I want that too.’”
After a few months, the couple remarried and eventually Nikki also became a follower of Jesus. They have been set free from past addictions and are experiencing a rich marriage with God as the foundation.
“To be able to speak with my wife about what she was learning and hear her share about the gospel back to me instead of always me sharing the gospel to her was a new experience,” says Tony. “And then just to watch her do that with other people seeing her share the gospel with complete strangers. Yeah, that was my, that was my milestone. The very first one between the differences between the marriages,” says Tony.
“The really great thing about having our perspective is we have that first marriage without Jesus where things were okay,” says Nikki. “But, of course, they failed. They crumbled and now that we have this new marriage with Jesus, this covenant where we know it’s not just a contract, but it is actually for life. We have this beautiful commitment to one another, and we truly do enjoy being married because we are created in His image. One man, one woman, covenant marriage,” says Nikki. “It’s a beautiful thing.”
Miriam and her daughters are Christians. Because of their faith, they’ve been displaced six times as they fled from Boko Haram’s violent attacks in Nigeria.
Miriam explained, “The day my husband was killed, I was carrying my youngest daughter, Susanna, on my back. She was one year old. They killed him and let my daughter and me go. We fled in spite of the danger of moving about. They wanted to kill us, because we are Christians, but God kept us safe.”
Miriam and her daughters settled in Jos and learned about Christian Faith Ministries, which is supported in part by CBN’s Orphan’s Promise. They reached out to us for help.
Miriam said, “I believe strongly that God led us here. I am excited about this new life. For the first time, my daughters can go to school consistently. They are in a safe place where they can learn without interruptions or attacks. My heart is at peace knowing they are safe here.”
Susanna is doing very well in school.
“I love this place. It is so peaceful. There is no fighting here. I didn’t know life could be this good,” said Susanna. “I have made good friends since I came here. We do everything together. We eat together, we play together, and that makes me really happy.”
Miriam said, “It gives me such joy to see how much Susanna has come to love God. I can see a lot of change in her.”
Susanna said, “My relationship with God has grown. Every morning when I wake up, I pray. Sundays, we attend church here, where we learn stories about Jesus. My favorite story is the story of Lazarus and how He raised him from the dead. I also want to be become a person that raises the dead like Jesus did.”
“Thank you so much for helping my family,” said Miriam. “I pray your lives will blossom, and you will reap a bountiful harvest.”
With a big smile, Susanna said, “Life is good for my mom and my family. Thank you for accepting us into this school. May God bless you and open doors for you.”
“I came to America with only $50, knowing no one in this country. Could hardly speak English, even though I was poor. But I was happy, because I was free,” says Dr. Ming Wang. He is an internationally acclaimed laser eye surgeon, who has pioneered multiple vision correction techniques.
When he came to America as a poor Chinese immigrant, he saw only opportunity and eventually earned a PHD in laser physics from MIT and a MD from Harvard.
“I came from China as an atheist. I believed nothing but science,” says Dr. Wang. “I was studying the structure of eye in med school and I realized that the human eye is so complicated. Trillions of trillions of cells has to line up perfectly for visual signal capturing and interpretation. If any one of those cells gets out of line, the person will be born blind.”
Dr. Wang continues, “So I had a big problem and the atheist me at the time, that how could so many cells form in such a short period of time out of randomness. So I kept on asking a professor and he said, 'Ming what's across the street?' I said, 'That's a car.' He said, 'What's the difference between a car and human eye?' I said, 'Human eye is a lot more complicated.' He said, 'Okay, can you imagine how random pieces of metal form itself into a car?' I said, 'No way.' And he said, 'How about human eye?' So, right there he opened a window in my life, making me realize that it was formed with a specific purpose for vision. So, there's a designer, a creator behind that. And I start with my journey believing first there's a creator, there's a God, and later on more specifically, the God is in the form of Jesus Christ and Christ has died for our sin so that we could have a chance for eternity.”
Dr. Wang began his career at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. Years later he started The Wang Vision Institute, establishing a foundation to restore sight for orphans from around the world. Dr. Wang continues, “So far, I have done 55,000 laser vision corrections, including on over 4,000 doctors. Our foundation, we've been able to help many, many patients from around the world, from over 55 countries, and dedicated to blind orphan children.”
Kajal, a little girl from India had acid poured in her eyes by her stepmother. Prayerfully he attempted surgery, but was crushed with disappointment. “The surgery failed because her damage was too severe to be repaired when I opened her eyes during the surgery,” remembers Dr. Wang. “My Christian faith was fundamentally shaken at that time. I felt that if God, 'You're so loving, why would let you something horrible happen in the first place? But even that happened, why don't You answer our prayer to try to rescue Kajal eyesight in such a helpless precious child?' So for many months I was very down and I felt that I couldn't continue this line of work to help more blind orphan children and I felt that God didn't care to answer our prayer.”
That year at his annual fundraising event called the “Eye Ball,” Kajal and her host families were special guests. One of the boys that spent time with Kajal throughout the year said something that surprised Dr. Wang. “The boy turned around, talked to his father behind him, said, 'Dad, I'm okay. I don't need an iPod anymore.' So, standing on the side with Kajal on my side, I was looking at the boy, all of a sudden something dawned on me. That Kajal's suffering has... and how she dealt with it, she was able to move on and do the best with what life has dealt with her and still find joy and happiness in her life...has positively impacted those kids around her, make those American kids who grew up in this country appreciate more what they have,” says Dr. Wang. “So, I realized that Kajal, even though she couldn't see, there's no light coming from outside, light could emanate from within if one has love.”
He continues, “So I've come to realize that as a Christian, the ultimate test of the strength of our faith is not when we pray something God immediately gives us what we pray for. It's when we pray something God seemingly did not answer the prayer and give us what we want. Can we still maintain faith and confidence in Him, believing that He will answer, but in His way, at His time?"
Today Dr. Wang continues to help orphans regain their vision. His autobiography, From Darkness to Sight, is now the major motion picture, Sight. He hopes his journey will help others start theirs.
“Seeing the film, Sight, will make the young people in America realize today that science and faith are meant to work together,” says Dr. Wang. “You know, they do not have to choose between science or faith. They can choose science and faith."
"By making a case to the young people, many of them are rapidly leaving churches, that science and faith to work together in this very rapidly developing scientific era, we have the best chance to bring those young people back to church.”
CBN’s impact around the world
Daily prayers for people across the country
CBN’s prayer team prayed with over 1.2 million callers in 2022 alone, while also praying with people through email, social media channels, live chat on the website, and written correspondence.
Highlighting testimonies of God’s faithfulness
Vida Dura or “Hard Life” stories are sourced throughout Latin America and produced in Spanish to reach a region with testimonies of people who hit rock bottom and turn to God for change. CBN has a prayer center in Latin America to support people through prayer and faith resources.
Serving in the wake of natural disasters
CBN's Operation Blessing was on the ground quickly in the wake of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey, providing much-needed food, relief supplies, and medical aid. After large-scale natural disasters, Operation Blessing strives to be the first to arrive, and the last to leave, tending to the needs long after the news cameras leave.
Ukraine and Poland
For 30 years, CBN has been serving the people of Ukraine
Through CBN’s Orphan’s Promise and Operation Blessing, we were able to quickly provide valuable resources soon after the conflict began, and we continue to support Ukrainian refugees.
Projected 135 million* watched a CBN program in 2022
CBN partners are reaching children around the world with the Gospel of Jesus through Superbook, a Bible-based animation series. In 2022 alone, children in 139 countries watched at least one episode of Superbook.
Bible Reading for the Day
Read or listen to today's Old and New Testament Bible readings. Each day is portioned to give the entire Bible to you in a year. Start anytime. Scroll forward or backward if you miss any days or want to get ahead.