By all means, I should have died on that missions trip to Haiti, yet God saw to bring me through what I experienced. This is my story.
My name is Heaven. Heaven Grace Fowler. I am 15 years old. I am very active in my walk with Jesus Christ, whom I accepted as my Lord and Saviour when I was only ten years old. I don't know what I would do without Him: I cannot imagine life without Jesus Christ! My faith is very real to me, especially since my missions trip earlier this year.
In February of this year, 2012, I and 11 other friends from church went to Haiti to minister to the people there, and to help out in any way we possibly could. We were there for a week and it was an eye-opening journey in more ways than one. The people were so needy and desperately poor, yet they were very receptive towards us.
Haiti is not for the weak-of-heart. So many people there are living in substandard conditions and the death and crime rates are very high: it is very dangerous to venture out, even during the day: it is wise to have a buddy (or buddies) with you at all times whenever you travel. The terrain is rough and ragged and when driving, people don't always pay attention to what they are doing. Accidents or injuries are very common there.
Even though Haiti is a beautiful country, it is far from being paradise, and many people are left shocked once they have an opportunity to visit. This was exactly what happened to me.
I and two other friends were working at a school for children with disabilities. The children, ages six to 15, were very warm, loving, and receptive to us; they couldn't wait to hear more about "this Jeezus man". We delighted in telling them a simplfied version of the Bible Story in ways that they could understand, an adult translating for us, so these children could understand what we were trying to say to them.
Suddenly, without warning, a man wearing a mask and holding a gun came bursting through the school doors. Shots were fired, sending people screaming and ducking for cover. I, my two friends, and the teacher (as well as the interpretor) threw our bodies over the children we were closest to, praying for our very lives (and the lives of the kids) to be spared. I remember feeling a sensation of dampness and warmth before I mercifully blacked out. Surprisingly, there was very little pain.
When I woke up, I was surprised to find myself in a hospital bed, an IV in my arm, and a monitor recording my heartbeat above my head. I didn't know what happened, but I soon found out that I had been shot. I had been shot in the back, the doctor told me. At the time, I was paralyzed from the waist on down, but it was far too soon to tell whether I would ever walk again.
As the reality of the situation sunk in, I cried. I don't know why this had happened to me, but once I got my bearings together, I decided to trust in God and to have Him help me through whatever lay ahead for me.
I remained in the hospital for over two months, one month in the regular hospital, and then was flown to Florida, where I spent another month in the rehabilitation hospital. I was very depressed at first, but I chose to steel my resolve and to continue to trust in God. I could feel His presence surrounding me. It felt like a warm, healing balm on my spirit, and it comforted me.
I then returned home after my time in the rehab hospital. I would no longer walk on my own, but I found out that I could still serve God, even from a wheelchair. I could still tell others about Christ and the miracle that I had been granted. By His mercy, His grace, His sovereignty, God let me live even though I had been shot in the back and had been left paralyzed. I was no longer the same person, but in many ways, I had been made stronger, and He would use my handicap for His glory. I could still tell others about Christ and share my testimony with people.
So that is what I am doing. This is the first time I have really told my story or shared my testimony with you all. It has been hard some days, but I know with His help, I will make it. He's brought me through the fire and set me upon a firm foundation. He will continue TO use me in ways that I cannot even begin to comprehend. I don't know what the future holds for me, but even despite everything I have been through, my faith in God remains strong and I am more determined than ever to live for His purpose, even with being in a wheelchair or unable to walk again under my own power!
~To be continued.~