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When an impaired driver hit the motorcycle he and a friend were riding, it flew into a chain-link fence post. His friend escaped with minor injuries, but he wasn't so lucky.

An invitation from theNational Post: Have you found religion? Or lost it? If so, the National Post Comment section wants to hear your story. In our series, "Faith: Lost and Found," we are publishing the tales of readers whose life-experiences have imbued them with a belief in a higher power—or taken that faith away. If you would like to contribute to "Faith: Lost and Found," please send your submission to Entries in this series should not constitute advocacy for any faith or sect, and should be between 500 and 1,000 words. In today's instalment, Bruce Dean writes about finding God after a motorcycle accident that almost killed him.

My mother and father took great pains to ensure I had an appreciation of God's Word. But my childhood, during which I was scarred by a sibling's abuse, caused me to doubt my faith. That doubt would disappear when tragedy struck at the age of 25.

Bruce Dean

On April 9, 1991, I was a passenger on a motorcycle driven too fast through a sheet of rain. When my friend and I were struck by an impaired driver, our vehicle was sent flying into a chain-link fence post.

My fellow motorcyclist escaped with no more than a severe case of whiplash, and some minor bruising and lacerations. But I wasn't so lucky: I hit the post while spinning sideways, bounced upward and landed 40 yards beyond the fence. A shoulder was dislocated, the other shoulder and a hip were fractured, two ribs were cracked and my face was mangled.

I recall lying in the field for some time as the rain continued to fall. Dimly aware of the scope of my injuries, I began praying to God, desperately begging for His mercy and hoping that someone would find me. In time, a man shone a flashlight into my face. I remember saying, as I fell into a welcomed unconsciousness and then a coma, "Thank You Lord."

It was an Ottawa police officer named Gary Granger who found me, and placed me in a fetal position so that blood would stop pouring into my lungs. If not for his quick action, and the emergency medical care I received first in ambulance, then at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, I would not have survived. At one point, my indicators flat-lined, and a hospital staff member actually recorded my time of death. But thanks to one particular doctor's persistence, I came back. His actions—combined, I believe, with that prayer I uttered in the cold rain, saved my life.

My newfound faith was strengthened in the weeks following, even as I lay unconscious. During my time in coma, God held me close, comforting me as doctors began the long process of reconstructing my face while other injuries healed. When I awoke, I experienced a peace and comfort I had never experienced, and have not experienced since. I cannot claim, as others have, that I saw a light and followed it, or that I heard voices. Yet the serenity I felt was very real.

Before I awoke from that blessed sleep, I had a vision of rising from my bed and being guided by an unseen and unheard source, to a room with nothing more than a single light and a mirror. When I looked into the mirror, I saw a man who looked nothing like I once did. He was scarred and appeared to be in pain.

The following day I awoke from my coma. As my mother and father sat close by, I silently listened as I heard them talking to a stranger. He was telling them that because of the severe head trauma, the loss of over half my tongue and the severity of my other injuries, I would be incapacitated for the rest of my life. I might not even be able to walk, talk or feed myself. Upon hearing these words, I found myself in prayer again.

My father was worried about how I would react to my new appearance. He didn't want me to look in a mirror—not yet. But I was adamant. And when he held up the glass to me, there was the very same man I'd seen in the coma. My father and mother were confused when I told them the image was familiar to me. Not until I explained the vision I'd attained in my peaceful rest did they understand.

Thanks to 32 reconstructive surgical procedures, my recovery has been extraordinary. Despite some enduring disabilities, my friends and family have helped me relearn basic skills—like how to walk and clearly pronounce my words.

In time, I returned to high school and eventually graduated. I went on to college and got a degree. The path was often difficult and frustrating. But it was a path I believed was paved by God. The faith I'd questioned throughout my youth has returned. And never again will I allow myself to question it.

Bruce Dean is a member of the Family Coalition Party of Ontario,

Originally published in the National Post, February 22, 2007.




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