Accident reflects God’s glory
by Dana Williamson
As they were driving north, Tim Green reached over and took his wife Denise’s hand, and together they prayed: “Lord, if this the day our son is to die, we will still love You and trust You.”
Their only son, Matt, 30, was in a Wichita, Kan. hospital following a private plane crash in Ponca City. Doctors had just told his parents they would try to keep him alive until they got there, but didn’t think they could.
Matt, a software engineer and a pilot, was on a pleasure flight with a friend, Kenny Green (no relation) on Dec. 4, 2010. They were going to land in Ponca City for lunch, when something went terribly wrong and the plane crashed, killing Kenny Green and severely injuring Matt.
Tim Green, director of missions in South Canadian Association, said when they arrived in Wichita, it was night, they were in a strange city, the hospital and parking lot were huge and they were in unbelievable stress and didn’t know how they would find their son.
As they stepped out of the car, they were met by a pastor, who used to be in their association, and he said he would take them to their son.
“I’ve never seen anyone so broken,” recalled Green. “He had 26 machines hooked up to him. We stood there with our adrenilin-fogged brains trying to make sense of it.”
Green said he soon realized that previously when he had been in ICU units, it was dark, quiet and there was no movement. But here, the lights were bright and people were moving around asking them to get out of the way.
“I thought there must be some hope or they wouldn’t be doing this,” Green said.
He said the next day, a doctor told them the two halves of Matt’s brain were torn apart. Two days later, the same doctor said he was wrong—the two halves of his brain weren’t separated.
“I don’t know if they never were or if the God who knitted him together in the first place knitted him back together,” said Green.
Two weeks after the accident, Matt had improved so much that instead of 30 days in ICU, he was there for only 10, and on day 14, he was transferred to a long-term acute care hospital in Denver. He was later moved to Craig Hospital in Denver, which is one of the top 10 brain trauma rehab hospitals in the nation, and on March 30, was transferred to a neuro-specialty hospital in Tulsa, where he continued intensive therapies to rehabilitate his brain. He was recently released to his home in Edmond.
“There are billions of receptors in the brain, and all those pathways have to be initialized,” explained Green. “We were told he would not make consistent progress, and would have a lot of setbacks, but he has made slow, but consistent progress.”
Green said there is no prognosis, because every case of traumatic brain injury (TBI) is so unique and different. Matt could make a total recovery or progress could stop at any time.
“We resolve we are going to praise God no matter what the outcome,” said Green, “but we are praying unashamedly for a full and unconditional recovery.”
Green reported that Matt’s physical healing has been nothing short of miraculous.
“He is completely healed physically, although there are some things that need to be taken care of, like new teeth on one side and a collar bone that is probably going to have to be redone.”
“We’ve been told recovery from TBI normally takes two to three years,” Green related. “He is able to hear and understand you, and will respond to yes and no questions.”
Green said Matt does not initiate anything, but as he was sitting with him recently, Matt put his arm around him and hugged him.
“And a few days ago, I said, ‘how about a smile.’ He looked at me and smiled—the first time he’s smiled since the accident.”
Green said the family realized early on that this was not about them, and ultimately it is not about Matt.
“We realized it was an opportunity to carry the glory of Jesus Christ to the nations. And we have had endless opportunities to have conversations with people to talk about Jesus,” he said. “To say the outpouring of love and support was 100 times more than we expected would be an understatement. Folks have been unbelievably kind and supportive. There has been absolutely no pressure on me to get back to work.”
Green said South Canadian Association moderator Matt Pollock, minister of education at Seminole, First, prayed he and Denise would not focus on what’s next, but what’s now.
“We’ve thought about that every single day, and when one of us starts worrying about the future, the other will say we’re going to focus on what’s now,” Green said.
“We feel the accident was an incredible gift from God. I wouldn’t take for it because I’ve seen depths of God’s grace and mercy I didn’t even dream existed. God let us know early on this was for His glory. We’ve just been along for the ride and watched God work.
“God has given us a chance to keep our mirrors polished and reflect His glory.”