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Philip Yancey Alive and Well
Popular author and public speaker Philip Yancey put his latest book to the test in the wake of a potentially life-threatening accident.

An accident that left Philip Yancey facing death for the first time forced him to cancel a recent visit to Calgary.

Philip Yancey

The popular author of Disappointment with God and What's so Amazing about Grace? was scheduled to speak about his new book, Prayer—Does it Make any Difference? At Bow Valley Christian Church. But when the Ford Explorer Yancey was driving fishtailed off a remote New Mexico road in February and then rolled at least three times, Yancey put his latest book to the test.

Although the van landed upright and Yancey walked out with what he thought were just minor cuts and bruises he was overcome by an intense pain in his neck.

Two cars with people on their way to church stopped to help and called for an ambulance, and Yancey soon found himself strapped to a body board with a brace immobilizing his head.

An emergency room doctor, in the small town of Alamosa, Colorado, determined Yancey's neck was broken. The fractured vertebrae did not occur in the spinal cord, which would have caused paralysis, but the doctors feared the break had nicked one of two arterial vessels. This potentially life-threatening situation left Yancey waiting for seven hours while the doctors did further tests.

On his website account of this accident, Yancey said, "As I lay there, contemplating what I had just been teaching in Los Alamos about prayer, and facing the imminent possibility of death for the first time, I felt very peaceful. As I thought of what my await me, I felt a feeling of great trust … I have no clue what heaven or an afterlife will be like, but I felt sustained by that trust."

After an MRI revealed no arterial leakage, Yancey was fitted with a neck brace and released. If the vertebrae does not heal on its own, he may face surgery.

"After advertising the cancellation of the event as far and wide as we could, we still had 100 people show up," said Mike Schuster, Worship and Arts Pastor at Bow Valley Church. "We decided to have our worship team practice that night and had someone waiting at the door just in case. Some stayed and worshipped with us."

Yancey is planning on rescheduling his visit to Calgary once his injury has completely healed. A detailed story about Yancey's accident can be found in the news section of his website.

Originally published in City Light News, April 2007.




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