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Through God’s Strength

A miraculous story of hope and resiliency

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Over the past four years, my life has changed radically, for the worse and for the better. Without the prayers and support of my Alliance family, I am certain I would not be writing this.

Growing up I dreamed of becoming a missionary and sharing the good news with others. I attended a community college in Phoenix, Arizona, and after two years I received my certification in strength, nutrition, and personal training, which allowed me to pursue work as a physical therapy assistant.

Rachel’s car, shown in the police lot after it was towed, was hit by a truck traveling 50 mph.

My plans and dreams all changed on the morning of September 2, 2011. I was driving to work when a pick-up truck broadsided my driver side door at 50 miles per hour, sending me to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. I spent the first month in ICU in a coma and the second on the neuro rehab floor. During this time, I never gave up faith in God’s healing power and was held in deep peace. As I was regaining my awareness, I remember telling my mom that this was no accident, to have faith, to do well is gain, and that God knows.

Rachel was unresponsive for the first month after her accident.

My injuries consisted of a severe traumatic brain injury, fractured and displaced collar bone, bruised heart and lung, ruptured spleen, and full paralysis on my left side. The most serious injury, however, was an internal decapitation.

When Christopher Reeve, the actor who played Superman in the 70s and 80s, suffered a severe accident while riding a horse, he was also internally decapitated, leaving him paralyzed from the shoulders down. So, although it is very rare, people do survive this injury. Although my head was structurally separated from the rest of my body, my spinal cord remained intact, and after several months in a wheelchair, I slowly began to walk again. My recovery was so rare, it received national attention. I have made appearances on both Today and the Katie Couric Show.

One year after her accident, Rachel posed for a photo with her mother, father, and brother, along with the firemen who helped to save her life.

During my first year and a half out of the hospital, I had very little therapy and tried desperately to regain some sense of normalcy. That first year was the darkest time of my life. The people I considered to be good friends stopped coming around, and I began to feel lonely and isolated. I begged God to give me an answer as to why He allows horrible things to happen, especially to those who love Him and are faithful according to His Word.

In my deepest moments of despair, my thoughts turned to Job. Hoping to find answers to my questions about pain and suffering, I dove into the book. Much to my dismay, I didn’t find the answers I was looking for. I did learn, however, that I was to stay faithful to God no matter what life threw at me. Throughout the book, God praises Job for his faithfulness, even when his world was crumbling on all sides. Reading about Job’s devotion to God and perseverance through trials gave me strength and made me more resilient.

With a shaky hand, Rachel assured her family and friends that what happened to her was no accident, but part of God’s plan.

A year later, healing from my physical and emotional wounds but still in pain, I decided to volunteer as a trauma survivor mentor at the hospital that saved my life. It was during that time that I discovered a key secret to contentment: giving. I would tell myself, “to live is to give.” Before long, life seemed less of an uphill battle.

While volunteering at that hospital, I found that many people have had a “truck” that came out of nowhere and broadsided their world. So I focused on what I could do to help others through their devastation. I began to find great purpose in my volunteer work. By helping others navigate their trauma, mine began to fade.

After months of limited outpatient therapy, I was discharged. My mom thought it would be wise to seek additional therapy. I was in denial about the severity of my injuries and didn’t want to go. My mom won (as moms usually do), so 18 months after my accident, I entered the Center for Transitional Neurorehabilitation (CTN). I was there seven to eight hours a day, four days a week, doing intensive one-on-one speech, occupational, and physical therapy, as well as neuropsychology. CTN’s objective is to get those who are struggling with brain injuries back into paying vocations and productive, happy, healthy lives. My therapists taught me to become aware and accepting of my injury. I could make realistic decisions based on my own particular deficits. After two and a half years of rehabilitation, I “graduated,” and my parents and I moved back to Colorado Springs.

Rachel with Jenna Wolfe on the set of the Today show.

I took a temporary part-time job at a family friend’s business, and when that ended, I began to feel lost again. That is when I heard about a volunteer position in the Archives at the Alliance National Office. Within the first week, I fell in love with the rich history of The Alliance. Studying the lives of missionaries and preserving their legacy has become a burning passion of mine. Every day I consider it a blessing to go into the National Office. More recently, I obtained a paid position at the front desk as a substitute switchboard operator. Another blessing!

Along with staying busy at the front desk and in the Archives, God has given me the biggest blessing of all, one far above what I could have asked or imagined at this stage in my life. Six months after I started volunteering, I met an incredible man of God at the National Office. After courting for 10 months, we decided we could serve God better together than apart, and he proposed on a mountain next to the most beautiful waterfall in Colorado.

This is not the life I planned; it is the life God planned. His ways are not our ways. He does everything according to His will. He allows us to go through fiery trials because we are refined through them. Sometimes we have burdens we cannot bear alone, yet God is right there alongside us. If we fix our eyes on Him during our struggles, He will often exceed our expectations. As Ephesians 3:20–21 assures us, He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to [His] power that is at work within us; to [Him] be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

7 responses to Through God’s Strength

  1. Just met you today Rachel and it was an honor to say the least. What amazing work our Lord has done in you! You are truly an inspiration for all.

    I never heard your story until today at bible study, Armor of God. My family and I lived in Phoenix, AZ twice in the past 16 years. First, we lived in Anthem from 2001-2006 and then 2011-2014. I most likely did not hear your story in 2011 because I don’t watch the news!

  2. My eyes are full of tears and my heart is full of joy as I just finished reading this great message of hope and faith that you so willingly shared. You are an amazing young lady, just like your wonderful Mom who has been a dear friend since we first met in Anthem in 2008. May the Lord continue to bless you and your entire family.

  3. Maam Rachel, Everyone of us God has plan. So, this is what happen now in your life and He gave you the right direction of your life because He is GREAT God, King of all kings.

  4. Rachel what a beautiful story of Gods faithfulness. It has been such a joy to watch what God has molded into your life

  5. Rachel, you are beautiful,amazing and talented woman. I know God has great things in store for you. Much love and prayers always.

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