Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Mighty Hand of God

“But I will sing of Your power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning;
for You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble. To You, O my Strength,
I will sing praises; for God is my defense, my God of mercy.”
-Psalm 59:16-17-

A week ago (04/15/16) we experienced the mighty hand of our amazing, all-powerful God in a very special way.  My siblings and I were in a plane crash.  Although it was extremely scary, all five of us and the missionary pilot were able to walk away with nothing more than a few scratches and bumps.  Praise the Lord for His mercy and protection!

Getting ready to load up the plane

Getting ready to load up the plane before the crash

Back in March, our family was invited to go up to Weagamow (Round Lake)—a fly-in reserve in northwestern Ontario—to sing for some church meetings in the community.  We were excited to be heading back again after five years.  Thursday morning, we drove the long road to Pickle Lake where we would meet Dan—our radio ministry friend and missionary pilot—and fly out the next day.  Due to the fact that there are seven of us, ten instruments, and our luggage, we needed to make three trips in the plane built for six people.

Waiting inside with the rest of the luggage

On Friday morning, the first flight left at eight o’clock in the morning with Dad and all of the instruments and sound gear.  Mom’s back wasn’t doing well from the drive up, so it was decided that the five of us kids would take the second flight with the rest of the luggage while Mom would stay in Pickle Lake and fly up later if she was doing better.

Abby took this picture in the air just seconds before the engine quit

It was about noon when we loaded up and climbed into the plane for the second flight.  Right before we taxied onto the runway, the pilot double-checked to make sure that our seat belts were buckled and that the doors were properly latched.  Then we raced down the runway and lifted off.  As the ground was dropping away, the engine suddenly quit when we were about a hundred feet in the air.  Realizing there were only seconds before we would drop out of the sky, Dan instinctively nosed the plane into a dive for the runway.

We hit the ground hard on the wheels of the plane.  One of the tires blew out, causing the plane to spin.  Then the left wing caught the ground and flipped the plane upside down.  We skidded across the runway for about 50 feet, scooping up gravel and dirt through the broken windows.  When we finally came to a stop, we were hanging upside down by our seat belts.  While reassuring each other we were unhurt, we scrambled to unbuckle our seat belts and get out of the plane.  Less than a minute after we crashed, we were all able to climb out and away from the wreckage.


Right after the crash before leaving the scene

In the amount of time it took for us to get out of the plane, a pickup truck with four guys who had seen us crash arrived on the scene.  As they jumped out of the truck, disbelief and shock registered on their faces as they saw us walking away from the plane.  One of the men drove us to the main building where the crew at the airport made us comfortable in their break room as we waited for the police and ambulance to arrive.  Everyone at the airport who saw the totaled plane couldn’t believe we were alive and unhurt.

IMG_5793 - Copy

After the airport started unloading the plane – those of us in the back climbed out this door

We have been so overwhelmed by the Lord’s goodness, mercy, and protection.  He provided a familiar face at the airport to go get Mom right away, and within an hour of the accident three other friends from the community showed up at the airport to check on us. And even though we were apart from Dad for the weekend, our friends in Pickle Lake surrounded us with love and care—we were given a cell phone to use all weekend, various ones made us meals all weekend, and even a nurse that we knew came and checked on us on Friday night after the adrenaline started wearing off.


You can see the wing folded up beneath the plane on the right

On Saturday morning, we had a steady stream of visitors coming to encourage us and praise the Lord with us.  We were especially grateful to get a visit from Gary and Chris Quequish.  Gary has been in numerous (20+) plane accidents as he’s traveled all over northern Canada ministering to his people.  His experiences made him able to encourage us in a special way.  We also enjoyed spending a lot of time with our pilot, Dan, who has so many stories of adventure throughout his years of serving the Lord.  Now he has another amazing story to share of God’s goodness.


Tired, yet smiling, with our pilot and friend Dan after the crash

Meanwhile, Dad was also surrounded by believers who encouraged and supported him as he continued to minister up in Round Lake for the weekend.  He preached on Friday night since the guest speaker from Garden Hill, Manitoba, had to wait for a flight in on Saturday.  He also formed a new band—The Maryland Trio and Cindy—so he wouldn’t have to sing by himself!  We were able to listen to the radio broadcast over the internet and hear them sing a couple of hymns.  The words of “How Firm a Foundation” and “I Must Tell Jesus” took on new meaning after all we’d been through.


The church where the meetings were held


“The Maryland Trio & Cindy”


Dad ready to load up at the Weagamow (Round Lake) airport, fly out, and meet us in Sioux Lookout

Monday morning, we headed out of Pickle Lake to drive down and pick up Dad at the Sioux Lookout airport.  Needless to say, it was a happy reunion!  Gary Quequish was there waiting for Dad with us and we all enjoyed a late lunch together rejoicing in the Lord’s goodness before continuing the drive home.


Hugs and tears of joy


Moving the gear from the plane to our van… after a safe flight and joyful reunion

With Gary Quequish – he’s a wonderful encouragement to us!

We are continuing to hear about so many people who have been affected by the crash and it’s absolutely amazing to see the Lord bring so much good out of this scary situation.  We heard about a man who rededicated his life to the Lord after watching the plane crash and seeing us walk away unharmed.  Our friend who works at the airport said that the crash has opened doors to share the gospel with his coworkers.  The missionary pilot had a conversation with a man who mentioned that maybe he should go to church after what happened.  It’s not just the people of Round Lake and Pickle Lake who have been affected, but other communities as the news traveled quickly, as well as so many of our friends and supporters all across the USA and Canada who are telling of our amazing God to believers and unbelievers alike.


The skid marks on the runway

And then there’s the stories of how God moved various ones to pray without even knowing what was going on or who was involved.  A woman from Mishkeegogamang First Nation who heard that Dan was going to be flying that weekend got a bad feeling about a crash and told her friends they needed to pray.  The scheduled speaker from Garden Hill First Nation told Dad that he woke up in the middle of the night before the accident.  Unable to fall back to sleep, he felt compelled to pray.  While coming out of surgery from a massive heart attack, a man from our church on the Red Lake Reservation felt an urgency to pray for our family.  Friends of ours heard about the crash and prayed for three hours late into the night not knowing who was in the crash or what the circumstances were.


The door that Daniel and the pilot climbed out of

Our pilot told us that according to statistics, 90% of people don’t walk away from this type of a crash.  Engine failure on take-off is almost always fatal.  God protected us in an amazing way, and anyone looking at these pictures can’t deny that it’s a miracle we are uninjured, let alone alive. We are so thankful for the Lord’s mercy and protection.  Even if the outcome of the crash was different, that wouldn’t make God any less faithful, good, or powerful.  As Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

The wreckage on the runway closed the Pickle Lake airport for four hours

The story hasn’t ended yet.  God is working in our hearts as well.  When we see the pictures of the crash, we just shake our heads along with everyone else.  Humanly speaking, there’s no way we could have walked away from that. We’re reminded that life is precious and time is short.  No one knows how much time they have left on this earth.  Death could come instantly and unexpectedly.  Are we living our lives in such a way that we won’t be ashamed or caught off guard when we’re called home?  God’s not finished with us yet, and we want to serve Him with all we’ve got.  May He get ALL the glory, honor, and praise from the great things He has done!


Front view of the plane… notice the bent propeller blades

“As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.”

-Psalm 18:30-

Psalm 91 is a special passage that has been woven throughout this whole story as the Lord has time and time again brought it to our attention in various ways.  Go and read it… and join us in praising Him for His goodness!

Update: If you would like to hear a radio interview we did with Wayne Shepherd you can listen to it here:


“It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
and Your faithfulness every night.”

-Psalm 92:1-2 (NKJV)-


The packing process

“Faithful” is one word that describes our 2005 Ford fifteen-passenger van.  If vehicles could talk, oh the stories our van would tell!  Up north on the Canadian winter—bush and ice—roads.  On down to the sunny south.  Up and down the East coast.  Out west to various reservations in the Dakotas.  Driven into an Alabama prison yard.  Stolen and recovered within 6 hours in a city of 1.4 million people.  Countless kids bouncing up and down on the seats on the way to church and VBS.  Instruments and luggage packed all the way to the ceiling and every nook and cranny available.  Over 214,000 miles of safety!

No extra room!

It only broke down twice.  Once was several years ago—in a safe and familiar place—less than a half hour from home on an evening outing.  The other time it broke down was this February—in our driveway, right next to our new-to-us 2014 van, less than 24 hours after returning home from a three-week ministry trip, the day after we bought the new van.

“I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever;
with my mouth will I
make known Your faithfulness to all generations.”
-Psalm 89:1 (NKJV)-

Have you ever smiled when your vehicle broke down?  We did.  As the old van had just enough momentum left to get up the driveway and died right beside the new van, we smiled and some of us even laughed.  Why?  Because God knew, and He provided for us before we ever knew we had a need.  We have an always-faithful and amazing God.


License plates for the new van

We had no clue the old van was that close to quitting.  After having it towed to the local mechanic, we were told the engine was dead.  It wasn’t fixable and needed to be replaced.  We couldn’t afford a new van—at least not the one we ended up with.  But God provided through a brother-in-Christ who gave us the money we needed to purchase us another vehicle–before the old van died.

We stand in awe of the perfect timing and provision of our faithful God.  He’s so worth serving.  Next time you’re wondering or worrying about a situation out of your control, remember that He is faithful.  He will provide.  His timing is never late.  His plan is perfect.  Trust Him!


Alabama Prisons

DSCN0412Many of you were praying for us at the end of January as we participated in a prison outreach in Alabama. Thank you so much! Last year was our first time going into prisons…and we couldn’t wait to go back. We Care prison ministry works with inmates year-round and in January they have the ReNew Hope crusade. It’s humbling to be able to be a part of it.

Sunday morning all the volunteers, musicians, and anyone else involved gathered for worship, teaching, and required training. A winter storm was working its way around the southeast and a number of volunteers were not able to be there this year, but it was still neat to see the number of people who came. (One of our answers to prayer was safety on the way down. Some of the roads were icy from the storm.)12604925_944712122289026_7436657371776391864_o

we sang a few songs

we sang a few songs at the workers gathering

We were stationed for a few nights in Atmore where the We Care headquarters is, so meals were shared there by all the volunteers assigned to the area. It provided good fellowship and time to exchange reports of how the services went in different prisons.P1140778

morning devotions after breakfast

morning devotions after breakfast

We sang at three men’s prison and one women’s. The first night started off with rejoicing–the chaplain stood at the front and greeted the inmates with, “This is the day that the Lord has made!” They clapped and cheered. Yes, even in prison there is joy and hope when people have Jesus. Pray for those on the inside.

loading up

loading up

The first night Dad realized shortly before we were supposed to leave for the prison that we needed to get something at the store. On his way to the van he twisted his ankle quite badly, and there was no time to do anything about it…so he went to the store and when he got back we went to the prison. His ankle and foot proceeded to swell and turn purple. By God’s grace he was able to do the walking and standing he needed to do. To add to the story, the hotel we were in for a few nights had no elevator so he had to climb several flights of stairs multiple times each day. The bright side of the no-elevator situations was rest of us got a good, much-needed workout carrying all our instruments and equipment up and down the stairs (with, of course, the purpose of going to the prisons or settling in the hotel for the night).

making the most of one trip...we carried everything up and down several flights of hotel stairs

making the most of one trip

When we got home a couple weeks later, Dad went in for an X-ray…and it turned out he broke his ankle. But, as we saw, God gives strength in time of need.

Each night we saw God moving in people’s hearts as they heard songs of hope, love and grace. The speakers gave powerful messages, two of them telling their personal testimonies…how they had been behind bars before and how receiving Jesus has changed their lives forever. Many of the inmates responded each night to the invitations that were given.

praying before the service

praying before the service

what a privilege to share about Jesus here

what a privilege to share about Jesus here

The last night was one of those testimony messages. Listening to this man’s story and seeing what he is like today is a powerful demonstration of the grace of God. But really, we all are in need of grace and forgiveness. There is nothing greater than grace… and who of us doesn’t need God’s grace?

At the end of sharing his story and explaining the gospel, he asked for a show of hands for those who wanted to receive Jesus. Understand, this was at a work release facility, minimum security, and these men were close to getting out of prison. It probably wasn’t rock bottom for them anymore. But in that small chapel, the hands went up. They wanted Jesus.

God was moving that week all over the state of Alabama. Many, many prisons were covered. We could see Him at work in different ways…the tears that flowed, the heads bowed and hands lifted in worship, the arms of a young inmate around the shoulders of two young volunteers as they prayed. People realizing their need for Jesus.

That makes everything worth it.

IMG_0604 (2)The LORD gives freedom to the prisoners. The LORD opens the eyes of the blind…Praise the LORD! Psalm 146:7,8,10

Thanks to We Care for some of the photos posted here.