Al English Jr.

Al plays Bass for the band and does vocals. He's also a good guitarist, principally a picker rather than a strummer.

Al is working for the Network of International Christian Schools in their International Offices here in the Southaven area.
Al has been on several mission trips through NICS. He's gone to visit the NICS school in Kenya, and one in Brazil.

Al plays the bongos for the church during worship services, and occasionally plays bass or guitar, and sings solos.
He works with the Youth (looks are deceiving, Al looks around 18 but he's actually pushing 28.) He plays in the youth band as well, and has occasionally come and played guitar and sang for the Childrens Church where I work.

He was instrumental in leading my daughter to Christ. He came and played 'Create in Me a Clean Heart' one day in Childrens Church, and my daughter came home and told me she was convicted that she was not saved, and needed to pray with me to receive Christ.

But the most interesting thing about Al is that he's HERE at ALL.

I'll let him tell you his story in his own words, below.

God's faithfulness

When the Lord called Abraham and told him to leave his homeland he did not tell him where he was to go; only that God would lead him. I'm sure Abraham was wondering what God had planned for his life.

Just imagine you and your family being taken out of your homeland and being led by God day by day not knowing where your journey would end. I wonder how many of us today could take a leap of faith like that? When the Lord calls, you need to listen and obey so he can lead you to the wonderful destination and into the adventurous journey he has planned for you!

I would like to share with you what God has done in my life.

Faith and prayer have sustained me in the darkest of times. In 1985 when I was six years old I watched an evangelistic movie that allowed me to see that if the rapture occurred I would be left here on earth. And that very night I came to know Christ as Lord and Savior of my life, but I didn't follow in baptism right away. One month later I started playing baseball in a t-ball league, Dad was one of the assistant coaches on the team. My dad, who also loves to play ball, played on the men's softball team for our church.

I liked to watch my dad play and usually I got some pointers from him. I often went to softball tournaments with my dad during the softball season. I went with him on July 13, 1985 and my life was forever changed.

The place where the tournament was being played was an old field used to raise crops as recent as the past two to three years. The so-called ball field was just outside Furlow, Arkansas on state highway 294. The highway ran less than 40 feet away from the ball field parallel to the left field fence. During the game a ball was thrown to third base but went over the third baseman's head and rolled across the highway. Another ball was thrown in and the game resumed. However some of my friends decided to cross the highway and retrieve the ball.

I was always taught to be careful around a busy highway, so I waited for my friends to get the ball. While they were coming back across from retrieving the ball, an approaching truck going about 55 M.P.H. saw them and swerved to miss them.

The safest way to miss them was to take the ditch. But I was standing down in the ditch and never even had a chance to move. The truck had slowed from about 50 to 45 M.P.H. and hit me head on.

I was so small that instead of being thrust up on the hood of the truck, I was hit and thrown forward into the air out in front of the truck 60-70 feet. The truck then ran over me and I got entangled beneath the truck with it dragging me about 100 feet in the gravel before coming to a stop.

Since dad played left field he was almost the first one to get to me. One of the men checked to see if I had a pulse, but he could not feel the heart beat. A couple of my Dads friends began to pray, and while they were praying the Lord answered the first of many prayers in my life. God allowed my heart to begin beating again as I lay under the rear bumper of the pick up truck.

This was to be a very special day at home after we finished at the softball game as we had planned a birthday party for my brother who was turning ten years old. But plans had drastically changed and my brother spent the rest of the day and the next several days at a friend's house.

To understand how dramatically God had changed the future for our entire family we need to go back a few months.

My mom and dad had been seeking God's will concerning full time service for quite a while. Our church supported Herb Prince, a missionary serving in Honduras, and my parents had committed to go on a two-week mission trip to assist him in view of serving full time. My dad had completed his shots and my mom was scheduled to get hers the week following my accident. So needless to say my parents were unable to go on this mission trip or any other for a number of years. It looked as though the Lord had closed the door for them to serve HIM full time.

But instead of closing the door it was only postponed as God prepared our family for ministry according to HIS perfect timing.

One of the men on my dad's softball team was a fireman and had some emergency training. He recognized the life-threatening situation I was in and called on his C.B. radio for help. A helicopter was dispatched and arrived in less than 15 minutes. I learned later that the paramedics treating me aboard the helicopter gave me very little chance of even making it to the hospital. One of my dad's close friends drove him to our house to pick up my mom, who was there with my nine-year-old brother and two year old sister. My dad was in such a state of shock he could not even tell my mom what had happened. She had to be told by my dad's friend. All my dad could do was pray and sob.

They raced to the Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas where I had been taken. My parents were not allowed to see me when they arrived because the entire emergency room team was trying to stabilize me. I was totally unconscious and would be so for the next two weeks. Once the doctors had me somewhat stabilized my parents were allowed to see me. My clothes were totally covered with blood and I had sustained several broken bones and lacerations over my body. My mom was shocked to see me in this condition, she was not there when my accident took place and couldn't picture the devastating effect the impact of the truck had on my frail little body. She told me later one thing that really bothered her when she first saw me lying on the emergency room table was the sight of my ear, which had been torn loose from my scalp and was hanging down over the side of my face and thus exposing my skull. While this was very minor compared to the very serious injuries I had sustained, it looked very serious to a loving mom.

After about two hours the doctors felt confident that I would live, they began to assess all the injuries. My right leg had been broken mid-way between my hip and knee where the bumper struck me. My right arm had been nearly severed by the grille of the truck. My head was swollen to about the size of a basketball from the hood of the truck. My dad said later there was an indention shaped like my head in the front of the truck's hood. I lost a lot of blood and had many cuts and bruises. I was in a deep coma due to the blow to my head. Once the doctors completed their assessment of my injuries they went to my parents and gave them the full report. They advised my parents that I was still in very critical condition but needed several surgeries. They told them the first surgery I would need would be the amputation of my right arm!

My parents asked for a few minutes to pray about this before consenting. As God often does, He had already appointed a person to be there at this time in answer to their prayer before they even voiced it.

Dr. James Aronson, one the most skilled pediatric orthopedic surgeons in the world, happened to be in the hospital and asked to look at my arm. He told my parents that with their permission he would like to attempt to re-attach my arm, which was about 95% severed. He said he could not guarantee it would be successful due to the extensive blood loss and damaged tissue. He also said even if it was successful the most we could reasonably hope for was about 15-20% usage of the arm. My parents felt this was a direct answer to prayer and prayed for Dr. Aronson as he performed this 9-hour surgery.

Many of our church family had arrived by this time and were praying with my parents continuously in the E.R. waiting room. There were so many there the head nurse of the E.R. asked some of the folks to go outside, where they knelt in groups on the parking lot and continued to pray for me. I can only imagine what it must have looked like for a visitor to the hospital turning in to the parking lot and seeing 40-50 people down on the pavement praying in small groups!

After the surgery to re-attach my arm I was moved into a private room in the Pediatric Intensive Care unit. While it was pretty certain I would live at this time, there was no way the doctor's could determine the quality of life I could expect as I was in a deep coma. My mom and dad prayed almost continually the first 3 days I was in intensive care. The hospital chapel was right across the hall and my parents spent a lot of time there praying for me. It was after one of their prayer sessions they tell me that the Lord gave them a sign that I was going to be okay. It was about 3 am on the fourth morning I was in the hospital. Mom and Dad have told me a nurse came in the room to due the usual checks such as shining a light in my eyes, and raking something across the bottom of my foot to check for any involuntary reflex action. As the nurse performed the second duty my parents saw me raise an eyebrow. They got very excited and cried and praised God. However the nurse said it was only reflexes. According to Mom and Dad this was the sign they had prayed for and was God's way of reassuring them that I was going to be okay.

I remained in a coma for 9 days, but stayed in the hospital for a total of 34 days. I went home in a wheelchair unable to talk or feed myself. Because of my mom's patience and training I learned to do all the things again such as feed myself, dress myself, and many other things. Even though I was in a wheelchair I had to go to the children's hospital two days out of the week for physical therapy.

My recovery was very painful and slow. After 3 months I was out of the wheel chair and walking on my own.

But it was at this time that I gave my parents a big scare. I was in the shower one morning getting ready for school, after a while my mom realized I had been in there for quite a while. She came to check on me but I would not respond, so she came into the room and found me staring off. Mom came and took me to my room and laid me on the bed. She thought I had slipped back into a coma and picked me up and rushed me to the children's hospital. It was there we learned I was having a seizure. Although the doctors did not warn my parents of this possibility, they said it was very common for someone with a traumatic brain injury. They put me on an anti-seizure medication to control my seizures and I will have to take this the rest of my life.

About a month after the accident I was baptized and the church had a celebration for my return from the hospital.

I have been through 7 major surgeries due to the accident that occurred when I was 6 years old. One of the surgeries was brain surgery to help control my seizures. When I tell people about what has happened in my life, some people say that I'm pretty lucky to be here.

But luck has nothing to do with what the Lord has brought me through; it is the power of prayer and faith in Christ Jesus.

A few years ago Dad and I were in a ball field hitting and catching the softball. He hit a ball to me in left field and I threw the ball in to him at home plate without warming up first. After throwing the ball my elbow was hurting so bad it made my entire arm throb. While standing on the field with my arm hurting I thought of a professional baseball player who had gone through a very painful time with his arm.

The player was Dave Dravecky, who played for the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants. Dave pitched for both teams over a seven-year period. In his seventh year, while with the Giants, he was diagnosed with cancer in his pitching arm. Dave, who is a faithful follower of Christ, was facing a career ending surgery and treatment. To him it must have been much like the test of faith Peter faced when stepping out of the boat to walk to Jesus on the water. After the surgery he actually had the opportunity to take the field once again. But this was short lived and he eventually had to have his arm amputated to remove all the cancer.

But through this crisis in his life God used Dave to start a ministry called Outreach of Hope. I admire Dave for having faith in God through everything that happened to him. We need to see that by putting faith in God, and calling to Him in time of need, He can help us through the most difficult situations.

It has been years since that hot summer day that changed the whole future of our family. But God is faithful and has opened the door for my dad to serve HIM in a ministry full time. My dad serves with NICS, The Network of International Christian Schools. Dad serves in the home office in Southaven, Mississippi taking care of the health insurance for hundreds of missionaries teaching in 17 schools worldwide.

God has been good to me and I thank HIM daily for what He has brought me through.

Jeremiah 29:11

Allan R. English Jr.