the winner of the Minnesota 'Idol contest' is
Mark David Williams!"
parents and wife of one month cheer. By all appearances he's a typical
29-year old, living the American dream. That wasn't the case just
three years ago, however, as one December night he awoke in the
Vanderbilt Trauma Unit, setting a new record for the most fractures
in any patient. His body was nearly destroyed by a head on collision
with a drunk driver in Nashville, Tennessee. I attend church with
Mark in Arden Hills, MN and he is a spiritual hero-a voice teacher
who lost his voice, but who came out of it an "idol" eager
to minister. I enthusiastically anticipated having the chance to
speak with him in more depth about his journey.
hk: Tell us about the day of the crash
and how it changed your life.
I was pinned in my car, cut out, and taken by ambulance to a trauma
center. I spent 11 days in the trauma unit and 64 days in a rehabilitation
facility. I had numerous fractures including both feet, left kneecap,
left hip, pelvis, right forearm, right wrist, right shoulder, both
jaws, left eye socket, and facial fractures. I was given an emergency
tracheotomy and for eleven days I could not speak and my jaw was
wired shut. Doctors expected brain damage, spinal cord injury and
more-but I didn't have any of these conditions. I did had multiple
surgeries and months of therapy and rehabilitation. I now live with
metal inserted in my pelvis, hip, arm, feet, and face.
hk: Do you have enough distance from
the crash to see how God has brought good from this horrifying tragedy?
MDW: Yes, I've seen good since the first concert after the crash
when I walked onto the stage with a cane and sang Great is Thy Faithfulness;
it had such new meaning to me and to the people listening. The hope
that I saw in people's eyes after hearing my testimony was truly
enough for me to say "thank you, Lord, that something good
is coming out of this."
Where has suffering led you, personally?
MDW: Down a path I never dreamed I would walk. I never would have
thought I was strong enough to handle what I did, but God knows
us better than we know ourselves. He knows I got pushed to the edge,
but not over it. God protected me from knowing the full extent of
my injuries, and how long I would be hospitalized. As Romans 5:3-5
says, "suffering produces perseverance." We can get so
overwhelmed by what's ahead of us that we just give up, but that
was never an option for me. Even if we have to crawl up that mountain,
we crawl because we are persevering and building up our character.
And when we get to the top of the mountain we can look back and
see where we came from; and we can look forward and see that there
is a whole new world in front of us. My suffering only got to the
level where it would make me stronger.
hk: Is there anything you would do differently
in how you navigated the journey of suffering?
MDW: I'm actually
amazed at how I handled the suffering and the anger that I could
have focused my energy on, but chose not to. I truly believe it's
a choice. I had to forgive the drunk driver immediately so I could
focus on the recovery. My thoughts and feelings toward the driver
are actually quite tame. I've had some pastoral counseling, as needed,
but all I can do is forgive her. You may have noticed that I refer
to what happened to me as a crash and not an accident. MADD has
taught me that drunk driving is not an accident but rather a choice
that someone makes to drink and then get behind the wheel of a car.
Accidents often cannot be prevented, but drunk driving can always
be prevented. I think that the Lord gives people who are suffering
an understanding, not necessarily of the reasons why, but what's
to come out of the pain, and I received that after four days of
terrible pain and no sleep. The turning point is going to be different
for everyone. It may come from a scripture, a prayer or even a vision
that the Lord provides.
How has music itself helped to bring spiritual and emotional healing
MDW: Music is
how I communicate best. I was writing songs in the hospital, songs
that would bring encouragement and hope to me. Looking back I'm
sure they were songs that the Lord was putting in my head to do
just that. Music is a creative outlet and it allows me to express
my emotions, to proclaim what I learned through all of this. Now,
songwriting is not about finding a song to write and sing, but about
having a song to write and sing. There has been an underlying central
theme in every song the Lord has recently given me: thankfulness.
But even songs that I did not write like, Great is Thy Faithfulness
and, It is Well with my Soul are songs that I relate to and sing
with intense passion. People appreciate honesty. We all struggle.
People need to be reminded that they are not the only ones walking
through fire or lost in the desert. We can bring comfort to those
with the comfort that we have been given.
What are some of the practical ways you have dealt with the problem
of chronic pain and the reality that your body may never be back
to the way it was pre-crash?
MDW: Life is
certainly not the same and I have accepted the fact that I won't
be the same as before. I have too much metal in my body to even
be remotely athletic. I can, however, do many things that the doctors
said I would not be able to do. If I didn't have a music career
that kept me busy this would bother me. God has caused my music
ministry to grow and He knew that would happen. I deal with discomfort
very carefully. I am aware of how my body works now and what it
can and cannot handle. I have some medication if I need it; I stretch;
I beg someone to rub my feet. I am just careful not to allow myself
to get to the point of pain or an unhealthy discomfort.
How has the crash affected your ability to minister, especially
at such a young age?
the crash on December 8, 2001, I felt inadequate at times to bring
forth the Gospel, and inadequate with my singing and my song writing
in comparison to other musicians; but now I can honestly say that
I know the Lord is going to use me in spite of myself. Now it's
more about the "Lord and me," rather than "me and
an audience" kind of thing. I have more of an understanding
of who I am in Christ. I feel refined. I don't feel perfect, but
I feel like God has made all things new.
You can read
the rest of this article in the May/June 2004 issue. You
can order this back issue by clicking here.
above to reach Mark David William's web site