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 MAY - JUNE 2004
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COVER STORY: Mark David Williams was cruising through life as a voice coach with an album and a ministry. Then he was hit head on by a drunk driver. . .
The Emotions of Parenting
In Honor of Dads
"How Can You Laugh?" Using Humor. . .
The Soul Clearing
Mosaic Moments Devotional
What Do Patients Really Want?
Searching for Answers
Is Yoga for You?
20 Ways to Save on Medical Expenses
Talk Over Tea with the Editor
Tell Us Your Thoughts
Strive to Thrive Health News
Joy Bites
Strength in the Shadows
Volunteer Corner
Book Review: The Bumps are What You Climb On
Ask the Doc
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"And the winner of the Minnesota 'Idol contest' is… Mark David Williams!"

Mark's 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.

MDW: 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."

hk: 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.

hk: How has music itself helped to bring spiritual and emotional healing to you?

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.

hk: 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.

hk: How has the crash affected your ability to minister, especially at such a young age?

MDW: Before 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.

Click above to reach Mark David William's web site


This article was featured in our May/June 2004 issue.
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