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Storm of faith

"Storm of faith" Continued...

Gradually, as firefighters and other rescuers lifted away walls and debris, light filtered down into the bathroom. But just as it seemed their final rescue was imminent, a firefighter's radio crackled with news that another tornado was bearing down on the area. A dispatcher instructed firefighters to cover the Commons rescue site with a tarp and return after this new storm had passed.

"But none of the firefighters left," Wilson said. "Which is a good thing, because I probably would've died."

As it was, firefighters continued using inflatable devices to lift the tangle of walls off Wilson's back, freeing him for transport to the hospital. The next day, doctors told Wilson and his family that the swelling in his legs had caused kidney failure. Also, fluid pressure was systematically damaging his nerves. They recommended a series of "fasciotomies," long incisions in the skin that would, like cuts in a sausage casing, allow the legs to expand, relieving pressure on the nerves.

That day, surgeons made eight incisions, from ankle to knee and from knee to crotch on both sides of each leg. After that, it was a waiting game to see when his kidneys would reengage. Wilson was on dialysis for five weeks, then in the hospital for a total of two months. He had to use crutches to walk until October 2008. Today he wears a brace on his right leg because of lingering nerve damage.

In 2007, David Wilson entered Union as a student-athlete. Now he is simply a student. But the change, he reflected, created for him a choice: "I can lay around and complain about not playing soccer anymore, or I can get up and live life, even though it's a little bit different."

Asked why he thought God would choose to send his life down a different path, Wilson immediately answered with the story of a soccer teammate from Canada who, in the storm's wake, committed his life to Christ: "About two weeks after the tornado, he said to me, 'I've been watching you since you got to Union, and I've been watching your family since last week. I've fought Christianity for a long time. But after watching you guys, I know now that it's true.'"

Before the storm, Wilson said, "I never really had a great, powerful conversion experience. I was saved at age 7 and always brought up in church. Sometimes I found it hard to witness to people. Now I just tell this story, and everybody immediately tunes in and listens. At the end, I witness to them. I'm not in control of whether or not people accept Christ, but I can plant seeds. That's all we can do."

Lynn Vincent
Lynn Vincent

Lynn is a senior writer for WORLD Magazine and the best-selling author of 10 non-fiction books.


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