Nobody can predict the next twenty-four hours. Normally we go from one situation to the next, with no harmful events happening. But just occasionally, through no fault of our own, we are put in mortal danger. That was certainly Calvin Sutcliffe’s experience. This is his story.
It was a Sunday evening, and I had been leading the worship in the evening service at my little evangelical church. When the service was over, most of us stayed around for a chat, and a little bit of supper, before going our separate ways. I was a single man of 33, and had come in my own van to the service. It was parked on the right hand side of the road, facing towards the traffic under a street lamp, directly outside the house of the minister, Pastor Peter.
I was putting my piano accordion into the rear of the van, as a car driven by a teenager of 19 came down on the left-hand side of the road, the same side as my van was parked. He drove straight into the front of my van. Seconds before it happened, Pastor Peter shouted out the warning, ‘Jump Calvin’, but it was too late, and I was pushed underneath my van, immediately knocked unconscious. I was then dragged fifteen feet whilst still trapped underneath my own vehicle. The impact was so severe that my van impacted and damaged the minister’s car.
I received serious damage to my body. I sustained a fractured skull, spinal injuries, and a soft tissue injury to my right upper leg. It was a cold evening, and I was wearing a fairly thick overcoat. Had I not been wearing the overcoat my injuries would have been far more severe
Help was obviously needed quickly. Two men managed to lift the van off me. They must have been given superhuman strength to do such a thing. Pastor Peter and a few others were meanwhile trying to help the young man who had driven into my van. Meanwhile, someone had rung the ambulance, but I was ten miles away from an ambulance station, so it was some time before an ambulance came.
When the paramedics came, they could not detect any breath when a mirror was put up against my mouth, even on a cold winter’s evening. I was put into the ambulance, and Pastor Peter was going to come with me. He was only wearing a shirt and thin cardigan over his upper body, and he started to shiver. Apart from the mist, there had been a frost that night, and the temperature was a few degrees below zero. The pastor felt a warm breeze blowing off the marshes, and he was soon as warm as toast. He felt that the Holy Spirit was anointing him with God’s power.
He sat in ambulance and decided to pray for me. After a while life started to come back to my body, and he noticed my little finger starting to move. He later said that it seemed as though something entered my body at that point. I was then taken to hospital.
I was in a coma for three days, but when I came round I was disappointed. I did not want to return. In one sense I had a lot to live for. I was still only 33, I was teaching in a school, and had some ministry work too. But I knew that I had been to a place so wonderful, even though my memories were vague, that I did not want to return.
I had experienced a wonderful, brilliant light, which had been at the end of a tunnel. I also remember feeling very warm and comfortable. I still have no idea when I had clinically died, or where my spirit had been during those three days that I was in a coma. But I was aware of returning from somewhere once I came out of the coma.
My terrible injuries were sorted out in an almost miraculous way. My fractured skull was left with a slight indentation, which soon healed completely. The spinal bruising also cleared after a short time.
However, I was back on that same ward five weeks later, due to an embolism in my leg. A blood clot travelled to my lungs, which seriously endangered my life. It was as though I had to face death a second time.
But the Lord had a plan in it all, because I was able to lead two people to the Him. One was a Jewish lady who was seeking the Messiah, and the other one was a Roman Catholic priest. He had ministered in Kenya for twenty eight years as a missionary, but confessed as he was dying of cancer in the bed opposite that he didn’t really know the Saviour as he should. So, in spite of the fact that I couldn’t get out of bed to speak to them, I was able to talk to them about my relationship with Jesus. I am sure that the Lord allowed me to go back to hospital for a second time.
The true story of Calvin Sutcliffe is included, with kind permission, in the free e-book BEYOND THE FINAL FRONTIER which includes 27 similar true stories, and may be freely read and downloaded from this web site.