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It Was a Great Experience - Scott Alexander

Oct 6, 2016


 

Christian, a pastor, a sophomore, and one of my students in Old Testament class, came into my office.  Christian had left on a bus for the capital three weeks earlier to take his son to the USA for surgery. His 20-year-old son had been in a motorcycle accident and needed surgery on his eyes and mouth because of the injuries in the accident.   

 

We had told Christian we would be praying for him and his son on the trip.  Of course, I was happy to see him back and immediately asked how his trip was and how his son was doing.  Christian said his son was fine and the surgery had gone well and the trip even included some dental braces (or “iron” as Christian described them as he swiped his finger in front of his teeth).  He was all smiles as he talked about his son. 

 

I thought his story was over and that Christian would jump up at any minute to leave for his class, but there was more to his story.  He explained that when he’d recently returned to Haiti, his brother (who lives in the capital) sent a car and driver to pick up Christian and his son from the airport to deliver them to the bus station.  On the short trip to the bus station, two large, oncoming vehicles swerved into the lane of Christian’s car, causing a collision that sent his car rolling, shattering all the windows and flipping them upside down in the middle of traffic.  Christian was shaken and unhurt (except for a purple fingernail – which he held out to show me).  But after the car stopped rolling, Christian could not see his son who had been riding in the passenger side of the front while Christian rode in the backseat.  He called to him and realized his son had been thrown out of the car, but was completely unhurt by the accident or fast moving traffic still passing by.

 

Christian kept saying, “It was a great experience.  It was a great experience.”  I understood he was happy that he and his son had come through this ironic and terrifying accident with only a bruised finger between them, but I was still surprised to hear him say, “It was a great experience.”  I was thinking to myself, Christian’s English is good but not great – he probably doesn’t realize what he is saying.  But as he went on, I think he meant it just like he said it. 

 

He told me he was very thankful that we (the SBC staff and professors) had been praying for him.  He said he had “learned a lesson” that God is his protector.  At this point, I am shaking my head in disbelief at his story and a little overwhelmed at his attitude after nearly losing his life and the life of his son.  But there was still more.  Christian said the accident happened in a bad neighborhood.  I knew immediately he was most likely referring to Cite Soleil, one of the most impoverished and dangerous places in the world.  (A quick Google search shows that Cite Soleil is on almost every list of the world’s most dangerous neighborhoods.) 

 

This might have been Christian’s best argument for God as his protector.  Christian could not believe that the police officer that had helped him and his son after the accident stayed with them on the street for 3 hours after the accident to protect them.  I think the idea he was trying to express in his broken English is that it is “unheard of” that a police officer would stay with them for that long…in that place.  That’s not to say that police officers aren’t helpful, it’s just that Cite Soleil is described by some as a place so dangerous that residents are left to fend for themselves.

 

By this time in the conversation, I am not even sure what to say.  But no problem.  Christian wasn’t done.  The man who was driving the car is a friend of Christian’s brother and sustained the only non-fingernail injury in the accident.  A femur broken in two places.  When Christian went to the hospital to see him, Christian offered to pay the man’s family for the medical costs because of the accident.  (As he is telling this part, I am remembering that just minutes earlier in this story, Christian told me he was so grateful that some of his own family had helped him pay for the surgery and medical care his son needed.  I was wondering if Christian even had any money to pay for the man’s care.)  But the driver’s family refused any payment saying that it was who God had protected them all so they wouldn’t accept any money. 

 

Finally the story was over, and it’s probably a good thing.  I am not sure I could have absorbed one more catastrophic incident turning into God’s miraculous protection in one conversation. Christian left me in my office thinking, “What lesson would I have learned if I’d been the main character in his story?”  I do know I’m glad Christian stopped by.  It was a great experience.  I think I learned a lesson.

 

“…consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” 

                                                                                                         James 1:2-3 (NET Bible)