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Motorcyclist Credits God with Survival

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July 27th, 2009 in Keene, New Hampshire. It had been hours since Phyllis Phelps’ husband, Bill, left to run a quick errand before they went on vacation. Finally, she called him. Phyllis recalls, “A woman answered and I thought, what in the world? She said, ‘Bill's been in a bad accident. We don't know if he's gonna make it.’”

The woman, who Phyllis knew, had seen it happen. Bill was going through an intersection on his motorcycle when a van ran a red light. Swerving to avoid a collision, he lost control and was thrown 40 feet across the pavement. He wasn’t wearing a helmet. Phyllis says, “It was so many emotions at one time that hit me. My first instinct is always to pray.”

When Phyllis arrived at the local hospital, the staff was prepping Bill for a medivac flight to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire. She says, “My prayer was, ‘Oh God, just let him live.’ Bill was out and I just touched his foot and I prayed to the Lord. And I felt like the Holy Spirit, not in an audible voice, but just said, ‘Believe for life.’”

Soon after, Phyllis and her adult children began the 70 mile drive to Dartmouth Medical Center. She recalls, “We didn't know if we would make it to the hospital before he died.” After they arrived, Phyllis learned Bill had numerous injuries that included: several broken ribs, a punctured lung, and a nearly severed spine. One injury, however, was life threatening - a level four brain trauma that would require immediate surgery to get the brain swelling under control – if Phyllis agreed. She says, “The doctor said to me, ‘If we don't do the surgery, he will surely die. If he does live, he would probably be a vegetable.’ So that was to be factored in on my decision. ‘Are you ready to take care of someone for the rest of their life?’ I said, ‘Of course, do what you can to save him.’ They said, ‘You and your children need to say goodbye.' And so, I brought the kids in the room and I said, ‘God has the final say.’”

Doctors removed part of Bill’s skull to alleviate the pressure on his swollen brain. Now, as Bill lay in a medically induced coma, all they could do was wait. Phyllis says, “It wasn't hopeful and I didn’t know how much of him I would get back.” Soon, the waiting room was full of people praying for Bill and the family. She recalls, “Even though I was in such sorrow, in such shock, I never felt away from the presence of the Lord.”

Because it was a frontal lobe injury, Bill’s doctors gave Phyllis little hope that Bill’s memory would recover. By day 12, the brain swelling had gone down enough that they were able to bring him out of the coma. Phyllis recalls, “He didn’t know who we all were. I didn’t know if he would ever remember us.” Bill recalls, “I remember extraordinary amount of pain. I remember my family praying for me.”

Two days later, Bill transferred to Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, New Hampshire for rehab. There he started relearning how to eat, speak, and walk. Even then, doctors didn’t expect Bill would make a full recovery. Phyllis recalls, “The doctors took me in and told me that I wouldn't get my husband back. He will be a very different man than I'm used to. And I needed to prepare myself.”

Meanwhile, Bill had more than just physical struggles. He says, “I had a walking and talking relationship with God. How could He let this happen to me? Frustration turned into anger. Mostly because I couldn't understand.” Phyllis recalls, “Bill would say to me, ‘I can't find myself.’ And I would tell him, ‘God knows where you're at. God knows exactly where you're at and He will find you.’”

By now, people all over the world were praying for Bill. Over the next month, he slowly improved and on September 10th he was released to go home. Phyllis says, “Getting him home was a great victory. But having him there was great challenge. You could feel the prayers. It gave me a lot of hope.” Bill recalls, “Lot of determination. Mostly because of the love that I was surrounded by my family. All those praying for me.”

While Bill continued with outpatient rehab, he says his perspective toward God began to change. He says, “My anger has turned into being thankful. I don't like what happened to me. I never will. I don't understand. I never will understand. I tried now to thank Him for the things that are happening, the blessings that I get to enjoy every day. I have eight grandchildren, six of them I would've never met if God didn't spare my life.”

Bill would still need multiple surgeries and rehab over the next two years. With the help of therapy, he is almost back to his normal life. Phyllis recalls, “He kept improving. He did walk again. He sat at the supper table, he mowed a lawn, he learned to drive again. It's been a long, long haul and it's not been easy for either one of us.”

Today Bill and Phyllis believe that it was the power of prayer that brought him back to the life he loves. Bill states, “God's a miracle worker. He's still in the miracle working business, I am one.” Phyllis says, “Jesus Christ is faithful. No matter what you face, don't turn from God, run to Him. He's worthy to put your trust in. He doesn't want you to walk through this life alone. Whatever injuries you sustain in life, you need Jesus Christ. That's the answer.”

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About The Author

Ed Heath

Ed Heath loves telling stories. He has loved stories so since he was a little kid when he would spend weekends at the movies and evenings reading books. So, it’s no wonder Ed ended up in this industry as a storyteller. As a Senior Producer with The 700 Club, Ed says he is blessed to share people’s stories about the incredible things God is doing in their lives and he prays those stories touch other lives along the way. Growing up in a Navy family, Ed developed a passion for traveling so this job fits into that desire quite well. Getting to travel the country, meeting incredible people, and