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Prayer Heals Traumatic Brain Injury

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Brad and Ashley met as students at the University of Nebraska. After dating about a year, Brad knew she was the love of his life. About Ashley, Brad said, “She’s kind and sweet, but at the same time driven. Every time I got to know something more about Ashley, I was drawn more to her.”  They got engaged after graduation and set a wedding date in May of 2009.  At the time, Ashley was working for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. The morning of December 12, 2008 the staff was driving to a retreat. After missing their turn, the car Ashley and some co-workers were in made a U-turn and was hit by a Mack truck.

Father Matya was following in another car. He recalls, “Literally came upon it, probably within a minute after it happened. It was a horrifying situation, you know, because we ran out of the car and they’re in the car and they can’t get out of the car and the screaming and it’s glass and blood and everything everywhere. We were praying and interceding on their behalf, and that’s what we were trying to do because that’s what we could do at that moment.”

Father Matya called 911. Four of the girls had minor injuries but Ashley suffered major head and facial trauma. She was life-flighted to the Nebraska Medical Center. A mutual friend called Brad to let him know. Then Brad’s brother drove him to the hospital. Brad said, “I don’t remember a lot of the details of that drive. All I remember is praying. ‘Just be with Ashley. Just be with Ashley. Just be with Ashley.’ Cause I didn’t know what was happening.”

When Brad arrived at the hospital he and Father Matya found a nurse for an update. Brad remembers, “She was the one to tell me the severity of the accident and the severity of Ashley’s condition and that she may not make it. I hadn’t thought that this could be, you know, this could be the end for Ashley. I didn’t think this accident could kill her.”  Father Matya said, “We went back to the emergency room and she was really banged up. I mean, it was rough.” Brad continued, “I could see it was her clothes, but I couldn’t see that it was her. And it frightened me.”

Friends arrived at the hospital offering prayers and support. Brad recalls, “The lobby and the waiting area had filled up with just students from campus, friends of Ashley, friends of mine, the support and the community of faith just kept building.” Father Matya also said, “There was this huge response of prayer which is what we needed. I mean, I can’t overemphasize how important that is. You turn to God and put yourself in his presence and in his care and that’s the best thing we can do in any situation like that.”

Over the next few days prayers for Ashley went around the world. Her brain pressure was reaching dangerous levels and doctors put in a drain to remove excess spinal fluid. Brad was concerned, “There was no guarantee that she was going to live through this and there was no guarantee if she did live through this  – what her recovery would look like.”  Her swelling came down but there were still complications. Brad set up a Caring Bridge page with updates and prayer requests for Ashley. Brad continued, “All throughout her recovery she would come against challenge and challenge and challenge and we would specifically ask for prayers for that challenge and they’d be met.”  Father Matya said, “It’s really important that we learn how to be able to pray from our heart as well. And we were all doing that, you know, just talking about – telling the Lord that we were totally entrusting the situation to him, knowing that he could take care of the situation better, obviously than we can. Give it to him. Give it to him.”

After one month in the ICU Ashley was finally stable enough to be moved. She was flown to Atlanta to begin intensive rehab. Brad was still concerned, “The first trial, ‘Is Ashley going to live? Will-will she know me?’ those questions were answered, thank God. But even then, a month into this, we didn’t know what that recovery looked like.”

Ashley continued to improve and in June 2009 she was released from the hospital to start outpatient rehab. She pressed on and steadily grew stronger finding encouragement from the prayers posted on her Caring Bridge page. Ashley recalls, “It was at the time the most important medicine for me just to feel covered in prayer, to feel encouraged, and to feel supported that I wasn’t alone.” Brad said, “Having all these prayers answered, having her recovery progress, having so many people just love us – love us in so many different ways and to pray for us, my faith was strengthened in a way that had never – that I’d never seen before.”

Ashley and Brad married that December, on the one-year anniversary of her accident. Brad said, “Instead of having that date always be a reminder of the pain we wanted it to be a reminder of joy. We wanted to reclaim that moment for the glory of God.” And Ashley recalls, “We wanted to celebrate the fruits of the prayers and just have a party rather than make it into a sad anniversary.”

Today, almost 10 years later, Ashley and Brad enjoy their time with their three little girls. Time they know they might not have without the power of prayer. Ashley said, “If it weren’t for those prayers and those comments and that encouragement I wouldn’t be where I am today.” And Brad also believes, “The foundation of our prayer life was critical not only do I think to her recovery but for us coming together as a couple; to create the foundation then for our family.” Ashley said about prayer, “There’s no burden too small not to ask for a prayer you know? Often when big things like this like the accident happened, we all rally up and ask for prayer, but we need to remember like God works in small ways too. You know, whether it’s praying for kids or marriages or you know, job lost. ” Brad concluded, “There’s nothing in your life that can’t be taken to God in prayer.”

Read Ashley's blog at

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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