Tragedy or Triumph
The True Story of David Kaniewski
On a gorgeous Sunday in October, David prepared to harvest the corn. David and his family farmed 200 acres. Working alone, David was not anticipating the tragedy ahead. The oil can fell as he began to oil the chain. With the picker running, he reached to retrieve the fallen can. Suddenly, David's right leg slipped from its position. The gathering chain grasped his pant leg and began to pull it into the machine. Instinctively he threw his hands forward to brace himself, only to have both arms pulled into the snapping rolls. His arms and leg were not only trapped, but being pulled further and further into the picker. David's first impulse was to cry out to God for help. Because of the machine's inability to complete it's cycle, the tractor stalled, shutting down the intake of the corn picker. There was silence and no conceivable way to get out of this dilemma. David never lost consciousness, as his mind raced to find a solution. His first fear was bleeding to death.
David was two miles from his home and nearly one-half mile through the woods from his brother's home. The chances of making him hear were remote. A slight breeze muffled his calls for help. Seeming like an eternity, a slow agonizing hour crept by as he wondered when someone would miss him and come looking. Another hour passed and still no one came.
David's wife, Pat, enjoyed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that David did not understand, nor seek to undestand. They had been married almost 40 years. Pat had been praying for David's salvation for a long time.
David began to cry out to God...not once, or twice, but over and over again. "If you get me out of this...I will belong to you forever." With each passing moment his prayer became more fervent and sincere. God in His mercy and grace did not allow David to lose consciousness. These hours become precious and valuable moments with God.
Finally after three hours of calling out, David's brother Dennis, and his son-in-law, heard his cries for help. David had never been so glad to see anyone in his life. Although they could give comfort and assurance, there was no possibility of freeing David from his captor. Release would not occur for nearly two more hours. The "jaws-of-life" were necessary to cut David free from his tormentor. By this time there was no feeling left in his arms and leg.
God had long been at work. Thirty years of prayers were coming to fruition. Pat's church was notified of the accident. The service was stopped while corporate prayer was made for David and Pat. Many of the congregation continued to pray as the night progressed. David's injuries were severe and limb threatening. There was a high possibility of losing his left arm, and serious infection was always a possibility.
Pat waited at the hospital with her son, Todd, her pastor, and close family and friends. While everyone prayed for God to work in David's heart, God was actively pursuing Todd. Todd, age 37, had attended church with his mom when he was younger. Now God was again making Himself knowing to Todd.
While waiting for surgery, Pat asked David if she could pray with him...he consented, and as she finished he responded "AMEN." Both comments were so unusual for David. Pat realized God indeed had been working in David's heart that afternoon and she felt a sense of encouragement that she had never experienced before. God gave her strength, peace, and grace.
After hours of emergency surgery, the prognosis was that David would probably survive, providing there was no serious infection, but it really didn't look good as far as saving his left arm. Both arms and his right leg had to be cut to allow for the enormous amount of swelling. David's recovery was certain to be a long time. His injuries were so severe that he was kept in the trauma unit sedated for nearly a week to allow the healing process to begin.
One week after the accident, Todd walked through the doors of his mom's church. He told his mom "I'm not going to church for you...I'm going for me." God had already broken Todd's heart. Todd wept and prayed from the time he sat down, long before the message even began. A warning was shared that Sunday. "If you don't respond to the light when you have the opportunity, you may find yourself lost in the darkness." Now with his heart broken, he received Christ as his Savior. God's plan of salvation is clear. All men are sinners (Romans 3:10, 23). The wages of sin is death (eternal separation from God) (Romans 6:23). We cannot save ourselves by good works (Ephesians 2:8-9). God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die in our place (John 3:16). We must trust Jesus only for salvation (Acts 16:31; John 14:6). As the invitation to receive Christ was given, Todd immediately responded. Todd later shared that as a child he had made a decision with friends, but really felt that he was just following the crowd. He felt that he had failed to listen to God so many times in the past that he did not want this opportunity to slip past. The outpouring of God's grace and joy were just the beginning for the Kaniewski household.
The Sunday prior to Thanksgiving, one month after the accident, the entire Kaniewski family entered Pat's church. God had already prepared David's heart for the message that morning. As his son before him, David wept throughout the service, and responded immediately to God's call of salvation. "When I was trapped in the corn picker, I made a deal with God...Now I want to accept Him, no strings attached. I just want to make sure of my salvation."
What a Thanksgiving for the Kaniewskis'! Todd is growing in his relationship with the Lord. He is present at every Sunday morning service. David is able to walk with little or no assistance, and the arm that was just supposed to be a helping arm is well past 50% and improving. The medical obligations, exceeding $200,000, have all been met without any insurance. David continues to grow in his relationship with the Lord, reading his Bible daily and faithfully attending "his" church each Sunday. He has a thirst for the knowledge of God. He seems to be trying to make up for lost time. Every person that knew the old David, praises God for the new David. Every person who has been praying for years for the salvation of friends or loved ones are encouraged to never give up.
That Fall day in October 2002...was it a horrible tragedy or a hallelujah triumph? You decide!