A Broken Elbow, Part 1

Tom wrote the following letter to his supporters telling them about a life-changing event that happened in June 1983.

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your prayers which have helped me through some difficult times. I am thankful for your faithfulness and that God has been faithful in a recent difficult experience of mine.

On June 16 while driving my motorcycle with a fellow missionary on the rear we had an accident on the highway to Manila. The back tire had a blowout, and we went down. The Lord protected us because even though our helmets were found in the middle of the highway, we had no head injuries. My friend had a few scratches and bruises but was okay. But when I fell I landed on my right elbow and arm and it took the whole weight of my fall and the wrath of the cement as well.

I was rushed to the hospital for the fourth time since January

(First, it was Jellyfish stings in Mati, then dehydration in Davao, heatstroke with kidney problems and finally this accident. I have also had a black eye, a busted nose, and a stress fracture in my foot over the last couple of months, but managed to keep out-patient status with those injuries.) This has certainly been a year of some painful experiences to go along with the excitement of some fruitful ministry.

After getting X-rays and being admitted, the doctor came to my room. He knew I was a basketball player so the first thing I asked him was how long before I could play again. He said it would be a year before I could use my right arm and elbow again and it might never be the same. My elbow was crushed and in pieces and they would do their best to reconstruct it.

The surgery would be the next morning so I had some time alone that night to think about things. Karen was in the States, and everyone thought I was going into surgery that evening so there was no one around. That is when God met my need again because I had a peace that evening that could only have come from Him.

I could still serve Him in some other way

I decided then if I could not play basketball again, I could still serve Him in some other way and that would make me happy. I never thought I would have to stop playing so suddenly, let alone accept it, but the Lord gave me an answer in II Corinthians 1:3-7.

“What a wonderful God we have… He is the One who so wonderfuly comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does He do this? So that when others are troubled needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us. You can be sure that the more we undergo sufferings for Christ, the more He will shower us with His comfort and encouragement… He will give you the strength to endure.”

The doctors rebuilt my elbow the next morning. They put in four metal plates and two large pins, and pulled it together with wire. Even my stitches were wire! Anyway, I could make a great TV antenna!

The surgery went well and the doctor said he would not put a cast on my arm so I could try to get movement back as soon as possible. Then the Lord brought another blessing into the situation. A new missionary came to look at my arm and help me with therapy. He has a Masters and a Doctorate in physical therapy and rehabilitation. He has just come from the States and is willing to do all he can to help me get movement back.

In two weeks since surgery I have gained back movement of my hand, fingers, and shoulder. I spend 3.5 hours a day doing exercises and therapy in a pool. I shot my first right-handed shot in the pool. It went two feet! I always did shoot from too far anyway, so this will teach me patience. The biggest frustration is not being able to reach my mouth to eat with my right hand. So I have to settle for the “one handed shovel” effect instead.

Please continue to pray for my arm. I would love to be able to play again.
But pray that I will continue to be effective for Jesus Christ no matter what the results with my arm.

Thank you again for your love and prayers. Over 5000 have signed up to become part of a Bible study because of the ball teams’ ministries this summer. God continues to bless us and give fruit in this ministry.

I Peter 5:7 “…casting all your anxieties on Him, because He care for you.”
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