God Is In ControlIn every trial and difficulty, and even in the most devastating circumstances, God gives the ability to overcome. Linda’s life proves there is always hope in God.
Everyone has a story. The best stories illustrate how God makes a difference. Here Linda, a Christian woman of Canadian Native descent, tells her own story of God’s faithfulness. Not only did her faith not fail, but it grew stronger through trial after trial, even when an accident completely altered her life. She is proof that there is always hope in God.
I was born in Fort Churchill, Manitoba, but we moved to Thompson when I was seven. My dad got a job at the INCO mine. We attended the Thompson Bible Chapel. That was the same year I asked Jesus to come into my heart. One Sunday after church my six-year-old brother Eric and I knelt with Mom beside our bunk bed. We prayed and asked Jesus into our hearts. I suppose we had heard a sermon that suggested if we died we would go to heaven if Jesus was in our hearts. Rather simplistic, but doesn't Jesus say, "Unless you become as a little child you cannot enter the kingdom of God"? (Matthew 18:3).
Moving to Thompson was difficult. I remember feelings of hatred. I hated the town. I missed my grandparents. Everything was strange and different. Going to Westwood School wasn't bad, and I made some friends, but a few boys insisted on being bullies. I didn't know my eyes moved involuntarily, but apparently something in my brain had "short circuited" when it came to my vision and caused short-sightedness and movement. The children teased me about it.
Another thing that kids teased me about was being Native. I’m only part Déne, but because I look more like my dad, some threw rocks at me and called me “Indian.” Mostly I just ignored it, and it didn’t happen that often. I was mostly a happy child but I remember when my brother Keith came along, he was Dad’s baby. Keith could do no wrong. Eric and I would get blamed if he cried or if something happened to him. It made me very sad.
One of my special memories from childhood was going to Midway Bible Camp. One summer when I was 13 I got baptized. I was a Christian, and I knew that through baptism I was sharing with those who witnessed it, my desire to follow Jesus. I knew the act of baptism didn’t save me. Christ had already done that by dying on the cross.
We moved to South Indian Lake, Manitoba, that same year. My dad was chosen to be the town supervisor by the department of Indian and Northern Affairs. The hydro company was going to flood the town and they needed to move people and build new homes for those whose homes would be under water after the flooding.
Life in South Indian Lake seemed harder. Dad worked harder and Mom was working now too. She worked in the Council office as well as at the water and sewage treatment plants.
Linda graduated high school in Caronport, Saskatchewan.
I attended grades 8 to 10 in South Indian Lake. They made a special class for grade 10 students and when it was time for grade 11, we were told we had to go somewhere else. I wasn't sure I liked the idea, but that was the way things were. My parents thought it was best.
Mom arranged to take me to a boarding school in Caronport, Saskatchewan. My mom's sister Colleen and my Dad's sister Alice went there too. She brought me to Caronport and I was a bit horrified when I saw my tiny room complete with two desks, two dressers and a bunk bed. Oh yes – and my roommate! Total culture shock! There were wall-to-wall shoes under our bed and she wore bright pink lipstick. I had never worn lipstick in my life. I wasn't prepared at all for life away from home, family and safety. I had no idea about the school rules or how things worked. I felt abandoned by my mother.
I was like a fish out of water. It took me about three months to adjust to what to do, where to go, to doing my own laundry, and to getting to class on time. I didn’t like the rules and I especially didn’t like the resident advisors – girls my own age who were “the boss” over me.
Following high school graduation, I went into nurses’ training in Thompson. I did quite well until February, 1982.
I was to attend a youth retreat at Caronport and I wanted to fly there with a pilot friend of mine, James Andres. My mom didn’t want me to fly with James, but I remember standing in our kitchen with my hands on my hips saying, “Mom, I’m 19. I’m an adult. I can make my own decisions." And I did.
Linda and James before take-off for Thompson.
On March 3, 1982 as we flew home, we ran into whiteout conditions over Lake Winnipegosis. Our plane crashed. That night the temperature dipped down to minus 21 Celsius (minus 5.8 Fahrenheit). We were found 23 and a half hours later, but James died from hypothermia before rescuers reached us.
As a result of the plane crash, I lost my right eye and both legs below the knee. I also lost the time I had invested in nursing. That was the hardest thing for me. I could still see, and I knew I would walk again, but I couldn't get the time back. I went back to nursing determined to finish the program, but soon realized that I couldn't physically do it with artificial legs.
Another thing that changed after the plane crash was my relationship with God. Before the accident I knew I was a Christian. I accepted Him into my life when I was just seven. I wanted to honour God with my life. I knew if I had died in the crash, I would have gone to Heaven. However, before the accident my parents provided everything and I didn't have to trust God for anything. Then all of a sudden my parents were helpless. They couldn't make it all better.
For the first time in my life I had no one else to depend on except God. I found out that my faith had been inherited, but now it was real. I experienced it. I knew God loved me! He loved me enough to know what I needed when I needed it.
The crash on Lake Winnipegosis.
At that same youth retreat, one of the guest speakers was a double amputee – a man named Jim Martinson. He had lost his legs in the Vietnam War as the result of what was called a "bouncing betty" landmine. Over the weekend he shared his story. As a curious nursing student I asked him, "How do your legs stay on? How do your socks stay up?" Six weeks later I wrote him a letter and thanked him for being there. God knew seeing him and hearing his story would make it a lot less scary for me when I went through it.
After learning how to walk again I continued studying at the University of Manitoba and got a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and eventually a Bachelor of Social Work degree. I moved home to Thompson but couldn’t live "happily ever after." There were many rocky roads in my life besides the accident.
My dad divorced my mom and married a single Baptist missionary who had been a missionary in our community. When I found out, it was like a bomb exploded in my life. I was furious. I felt betrayed. That shouldn't have happened. It was not God's will. If my dad had been walking with the Lord it would never have happened. She was the missionary! She knew better. She taught God's Word. She loved the Lord. How could she do something so awful – so contrary to the Bible?
Life without legs.
For five years I lived with anger and pain. Five years I attended church and Bible studies and fought with my mom. Mom firmly believed God was in control, but I had a hard time believing it. How could He be in control if He let those who love and serve Him do something like this?
God was hurting too. He was hurting for me. I was so far away. I still loved Him and still trusted Him, but I couldn't believe that He was in control.
One Sunday my mom was visiting and came to church with me. We were having the same argument again, that God couldn't be in control. We got to church, and to my surprise someone sang a special number entitled, "God is in control!" Mom was elbowing me, and I was surprised. I heard Him loud and clear. I admitted, He is in control! But how was I to get over the hurt, the betrayal, the destruction?
It took a long time until I could actually sit down for a meal with my dad, Judy and my half-sisters. It was a breakfast God arranged—no coincidences here! I wouldn't have chosen to do it, but God wanted reconciliation. It was a beginning.
In 1998 God brought a special man into my life. I'm so glad he loves the Lord – and me! Maarten and I were married on June 30, 2001 and we moved to the Netherlands, where Maarten is from, and where he has a great job.
After their wedding Maarten and Linda moved to Holland.
We were married 500 days when we found out we couldn’t have children. This was another very painful moment in our lives. God knew I longed to be a mother, longed to have a baby. It is still difficult when I see others bringing home their newborns and we never will. No baby showers. No first day of school. No grandchildren. It is painful.
I found moving to the Netherlands also difficult. It is a lovely country, but it is not home. It is not Canada.
Recently God answered prayer and gave me a job. I began teaching English at DaVinci College on March 3, 2009. That date marked 27 years to the day of the plane crash. I am very excited because God has given me something new to look forward to. How good God is!
More than coincidence
My husband just discovered Keith Green’s music. I've listened to him for years. I grew up listening to him, and whenever a new album came out, I had to have it. But that was back in the Stone Age!
I remember Keith Green's love for the Lord. It came through in his music. He wanted everyone to know Christ. I also remember well the day he and two of his young children died in a plane crash along with another family—July 28, 1982. It was so sad. I wondered how God could take someone who was so vibrant for Him with such a testimony, such a hard worker for the Kingdom. Why didn't God stop his plane from crashing?
One of my favourite Keith Green songs is, “There is a Redeemer.” Keith's been in glory for the past 27 years. It reminds me that time is so short. I ask myself, What have I done with my time here? What are you doing with yours?
Originally published in Indian Life, March/April 2009.
Used with permission. Copyright © 2009 Christianity.ca.