Brian Crawford - Ontario, Canada

Brian CrawfordGod’s Voice in Car Crash
Personal story of Brian Crawford

“Come on boys, hurry up, we’re going to be late!”
I raced out of the house to jump into the big old Pontiac Strato Chief so that I would be able to ride “shot gun”. It was the summer of 1965 and we were on our way from the small town of Mindemoya on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, Canada to South Bay Mouth where we were going to pick up my grandparents who were coming to meet us on the ferry boat. My three brothers and I settled in for the forty minute cross country drive using a few back roads to try to make up some time. While traveling down one of these gravel roads the car hit a series of pot holes that caused the back end to fishtail. My mother hit the brakes and being pre-ABS days the wheels locked up and put us into a skid. Mother fought for control as the careened from one side of the narrow road to the other. Miraculously, she avoided plunging over the side of the road into a deep creek.  Finally, the loose gravel dragged the car down into a deep ditch and with a sickening tumble a large boulder stopped us with the wheels pointing skyward. Although I was only not quite eight years of age, my short life flashed in front of my eyes.  This experience would lead me to a spiritual awakening beyond my years.

I was born in the city of Sudbury Ontario in 1958, the same year my father was transferred from the south of the province with the Provincial Police. I can honestly say that I don’t ever remember NOT being taken along to church meetings with my 3 brothers. Whether it was Sunday School, bible readings, ministry meetings or gospel meetings, nothing short of a debilitating, sick in bed type of illness would allow me to stay home. It was in this type of environment that I learned what the word of God had to say about the human race and most importantly, me. I learned many verses from the bible that taught me that I was a sinner “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), the consequences of sin “The wages of sin is death”, (Romans 6:23) the result of dying in my sins “Jesus said, if you die in your sins, where I am you cannot come (John 8:21). With the bible very clear that there are only two destinations for the soul after death, I knew that if I didn’t end up in heaven, I would be lost in that terrible place called hell! Yet most importantly, in the midst of all this warning we were also taught of a Saviour who loved us. Even though we deserved the judgment of God for our sins, “God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not PERISH but have everlasting life” (John 3:16) In spite of all this privilege and knowledge, I was as dark as the person who had never heard it before. Instead of acknowledging my need and trusting Christ as my Saviour, in my mind I didn’t really think I was all that bad and if Jesus loved me so much, He would never send me to hell. How wrong I was! Just further affirmation of the truth of the Bible, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9)

It wasn’t until 1964, when my father got transferred to Mindemoya that I found out how big of a sinner I was. A particular event took place which burst the bubble of my good reputation that folks had of me, thinking that I was the policeman’s nice little boy. By the time my personal shame and pain had passed, I realized that God was absolutely right about me. Not only was I a sinner, but also if I died that way I would end up in hell. That is heavy stuff for a seven year old but God was speaking to me and didn’t want me to miss His salvation.

It was with this knowledge that I remember hanging on for dear life in the pre-seat belt interior of the car. When things stopped moving, as you can well imagine, I was very disoriented having crashed around in the interior of the car. As I tried to focus on my surroundings, between what I thought was smoke and the crying I heard, I thought for sure that I had died and “IN HELL I HAD LIFTED UP EYES IN TORMENTS.” For a very short time I had imagined that I had missed Gods salvation forever. Thankfully and by the grace of God, what I had thought to be smoke was actually only the dust from the gravel road that had filled the car and the crying was from my youngest brother who had been thrown from his car seat and had split his nose open on the rear view mirror. With the car resting on its roof, we were all able to crawl out of one of the side windows and made our way back up to the roadway. When we turned and looked back down at the car, one of the rear wheels was still turning. What had happened in slow motion had actually transpired in less than a minute but the consequences could have been eternal. God had spoken to me loud and clear and although it would still be another 6 years before I trusted Christ as my Saviour, I had been awaken to the fact of the suddenness in which I could go out to meet God.

God was gracious and continued to work in my conscience but I continued to find excuse after excuse why I didn’t need His salvation right now. May 1971 found the Christians at the little Gospel Hall in Sudbury planning a series of nightly meetings to preach about mans ruin and God’s remedy. Of course, like it or not, I would be obliged to attend.

Two veteran evangelists came along and faithfully preached the gospel for four weeks straight. At first it was more than a minor inconvience to me as it was seriously cutting into my social life. Thankfully, as the meetings continued on, God started working with me again and I became concerned about my sin and where it was taking me. As the preachers gave it their all night after night, I was not hearing anything new and grew frustrated at my inability to get this thing called salvation. I was asking myself how could I know for sure this message was the right one.

The final night of the meetings came and I was frantic to get this matter settled once and for all. I felt that if I didn’t get it at this time, there would be no salvation for me. The first speaker got up to preach and being my favorite of the two, I had imagined myself getting saved when he was preaching. To my horror, he took the platform, spoke his message and sat down without me understanding a word he said. I felt that because of my unbelief, God had given up on me and passed me by and I was destined to die in my sins. The second speaker took to the platform and although there were others in the audience that night, it seemed like he was speaking to me and me alone. The Spirit of God had led him to address the very difficulty that I was having. He spoke of how in history class at school we read of people like Napoleon, his life and exploits and never once would question if what we are reading is true or not. He then held up his Bible and said “Here is the only absolutely true book ever written and it says CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES! (1Corinthians 15:3) If you can believe men, why can’t you just believe God?” With only 5 minutes left in the final meeting, what I had known most of my life, for the first time became very personal and real to me that the Lord Jesus Christ had died for MY sins. If the “God who cannot lie” (Titus 1:2) says it, it must be true. It wasn’t my believing that made it true but because it was true, I was saved. What joy and peace flooded my soul. To think that God would save a sinner like me!

Oh, by the way, my grandparents didn’t even make it to the ferry we were rushing to meet!