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Crash Course in Faith
When it looked to Tina as if her life was finally coming together, her most arduous test of faith came. She not only survived, but gives God glory today for His intervention.

Doctors and nurses swarmed the hospital emergency room in Burin, Newfoundland, as Tina Dominaux sobbed over the lifeless body of her 17-year-old son, Stephen. The teenager had just been involved in a devastating car crash. Gently kissing Stephen on the forehead, Tina stared in disbelief as the medical team whisked him away in an effort to save his life.

...John was firm in his decision and began divorce proceedings.

Searching for peace

From birth, Stephen and his sister, Ashleigh, were precious gifts to Tina because, at age 15, she had given up her first child, Amanda, for adoption. After Amanda's birth in 1982, Tina quit attending church. "I felt unworthy, dirty and had no self-esteem," she says. A close Christian friend told her that God loved her in spite of her actions, but it was years before Tina accepted His love and forgiveness.

At 19, Tina married her high-school sweetheart, John (not his real name). In the next few years, Stephen and Ashleigh were born and Tina returned to church. She took the children with her, wanting them to hear about God, but John had no interest in attending.

John was in the military full-time and for the next nine years the family moved to various bases across Canada. At times, Tina and the kids attended chapel services, but "there was something missing in my life," she admits. "I had no sense of true peace."

In 1995, John retired from the military and the family returned to their hometown of Grand Bank, Newfoundland. They bought their first house and soon were financially well-off.

Emotional bombshell

Soon after they settled, Tina returned to church. Her grandmother invited her to The Salvation Army, where Tina felt warmth and acceptance. The preaching encouraged her to become more in tune with God. "I wanted to accept Jesus into my heart," she says, "but I was always fearful of what John would say."

When she surrendered to God, Tina finally felt free.

The guilt and shame of her past also burdened Tina until one night after her grandmother's funeral. Distraught, she cried, "God, forgive me. Take control of my life and use me!" When she surrendered to God, Tina finally felt free.

At home, John remained silent about Tina's decision even as she became more involved in church programs. God had work for her to do! Then, out of nowhere, John dropped an emotional bombshell that shattered Tina's self-esteem and dreams for the future.

"I was unprepared for John's decision to leave me and the kids," says Tina. "We were happy—or so I thought." John explained his frustration over Tina's involvement in the church. Tina couldn't believe it. Church had never been an issue between them. "I'll quit church!" she cried out, willing to sacrifice anything to keep the 11-year-old marriage together.

But John was firm in his decision and began divorce proceedings. Tina later learned that he had been involved with another woman during the last few months of their marriage.

Now a single mom of a 14- and a 15-year-old, Tina struggled financially as the sole provider and primary role model for her children. As difficult as it was, she trusted that God was in control.

It was during these anxious days that Tina felt God urging her to pursue full-time ministry with The Salvation Army as an officer (pastor). "I was mad at God," she remembers. " 'Not now,' I prayed. 'I'm not ready. I have too much to deal with.' "

God's timing was different than Tina's and she came to grips with His calling on her life. The process to enter the College for Officer Training in Winnipeg began. She was excited about what God had in store for her, but had no idea her greatest test of faith was just around the corner.

"Why, God?"

It was a cold, clear evening in January 2005 when Stephen asked his mom if he could use her car to take three friends out for supper. She agreed, but wanted to know when they would return. As the minutes and hours ticked by, Tina became uneasy. It was unlike Stephen to be late. Before long she received word of the accident.

Stephen was thrown 15 metres …

Friends arrived at the house and immediately drove Tina to the hospital. In the emergency room, a frantic Tina learned Stephen had a head trauma and damage to his leg and hip area. It was four hours before she was allowed to see him. He lay in the hospital bed, unresponsive. Tubes had been
inserted into him from every direction. A large white bandage was wrapped around the back of his head, covering a hole the size of a fist.

"Why is this happening, God?" Tina cried out. "My family has been through so much."

The car Stephen was driving hit the shoulder of the road and, when he pulled it back onto the highway, the vehicle was suddenly hit from behind. While his girlfriend, who was in the passenger seat (and the only one wearing a seatbelt), walked away with scratches, Stephen was thrown 15 metres and the two teens in the back seat didn't survive the horrific impact.

Tina was numbed by the news. Distraught, she fell to the foot of a hospital chair and sobbed, "God, I can't do this alone. I give it all to you."

When Stephen was air-lifted to the St. John's Health Sciences Centre, Tina was not allowed on the flight. "It killed me," she recalls. During the three-and-a-half-hour drive to St. John's, Tina was beside herself. "If there was ever a time I had to lean on God, a time His promises became real to me, it was then," she proclaims.

"I will go on"

Following extensive surgery on his leg, Stephen remained in a coma for 12 days. There was still no information as to his head injury. When he awoke, this former A-student didn't know his name, what city he was in or how old he was. He couldn't walk and, for the next two months, Tina had to look after all of his needs. "I cried until there were no tears left."

Stephen cautiously walked with his cane down the aisle at his school to receive his graduation certificate.

Eventually, Stephen was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, where the family was told it could be up to two years before they would see much improvement. But his hard work and determination saw him home in three months. In May 2005, Stephen cautiously walked with his cane down the aisle at his school to receive his graduation certificate.

"God is so good," acknowledges Tina. "When God works, He really works!" Stephen is now in his first year of university. He and Ashleigh live with their grandparents in Grand Bank. Tina is studying at the College for Officer Training and has been re-united with Amanda.

Tina takes solace in the words of a song penned by Bill and Gloria Gaither.

I will go on, my past I leave behind me;
I gladly take His mercy and His love.
He is joy and He is peace, He is strength and sweet release,
I know He is, and I am His;
I will go on!

Tina shares her story in remembrance of Ashley Tulk, 16, and Matthew Symmes, 17. "You will ever be remembered."

Linda Leigh is a staff writer and proofreader for Faith & Friends.

Originally published in Faith & Friends, June, 2007.




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