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A JOURNEY THROUGH TRIBULATION


Testimony by Jacobson Community Church, Pastor G. H. “Boomer” Collins.


"God, if you're real, you'll help me out of this mess!" I use to say that every night after I had finished doing the chores. My wife and I had four horses and we enjoyed riding and training them. It was usually dark by the time I got home from work (I was lumberjack), so I went out and did the chores before coming in to eat. But I would always have a few nips before coming in to the house. I guess I thought I needed an edge to talk to God and to face my wife. So I argued with God a lot and my wife a whole lot more. I was miserable and bitter and angry all the time.


Often, in a drunken state of mind, I would reflect back on my past, and the direction my pathway had taken had become something I hated. And I let it control me. I grew up on a small country farm as the youngest in a family of ten (five brothers and five sisters). I left school at the age of fourteen and a half and went to work in Remer, MN. at a logging camp (January 1965). I was tired and ashamed of myself because of all the names that my classmates called me in school and my self esteem was so low I cared not if I lived or died. I decided one day in the middle of winter, during a snow storm, that I would end my life. But somehow the bullet that was intended for my head ended up going through my arm. I remember moving to Remora and going to work as a lumberjack (with one arm for a while). I had brought disgrace and shame upon my family.


I remembered that my dad used to have us kids pour a good sized layer of rock salt on the layers of green hay we put up in huge stacks. The salt kept the green hay from getting hot and bursting into flames. It also preserved the hay by keeping it fresh. It kept the dust and the mold out too. I was told by someone during that time that I "Wasn't worth my salt!" I didn't know what he meant by that at that time but never forgot that statement. (After I became a Christian I remembered and knew what it meant.)


Maybe some of us Christians need to be saltier and let our lights shine brighter-- Matthew 5:13- 16. Matthew Henry says in his commentary on these verses that "Ye are the salt of the earth. Mankind, lying in ignorance and wickedness, were as a vast heap, ready to putrefy; but Christ sent forth his disciples, by their lives and doctrines to season it with knowledge and grace. If they are not such as they should be, they are as salt that has lost its savor. If a man can take up the profession of Christ, and yet remain graceless, no other doctrine, no other means, can make him profitable. Our light must shine, by doing such good works as men may see. What is between God and our souls, must be kept to ourselves; but that which is of itself open to the sight of men, we must study to make suitable to our profession, and praise worthy. We must aim at the glory of God."


I had become a professional lumberjack (and well on my way to becoming a professional drunk -- or an alcoholic) by the time I reached eighteen and decided that it was time to get married. After the first two years of marriage we had our first son, Scottie, and we were pretty excited. But our excitement was soon turned to disappointment and despair, and sorrow and pain.


Eleven months after Scottie was born my wife had another baby (prematurely). It was one o'clock in the morning on 22 December 1970 when it happened. My wife had just come into our bedroom from caring for our first-born and began screaming "Fire!" I was half asleep and half awake and my back was itching something terrible (it was from the hot varnish popping off the wall paneling onto my back that was making it itch). The scream startled me and I jumped up in bed to see what was going on. I was surrounded by flame and smoke! I bailed out of bed as fast as I could and hollered for my wife to grab the diaper bag. The floor was caving in behind us as we ran down the hallway. My wife grabbed up Scottie and, as we passed by the third bedroom, hollered in at her cousin who was living with us at the time, to get up and get out before he got burned up. We made it into the living room and my wife fell over the coffee table. Scottie went flying from her arms! But thank God Dennis was there and caught him before he hit the floor.


The flames were making their mad rush down the hallway and the roof was caving in and the floor buckling up in the back of the trailer house. Light bulbs were popping, the furnace exploded, and the only door left that we could exit out was warped on its hinges! It was stuck so tight that I could not budge it at all. The flames were getting mighty hot and the smoke was getting mighty thick-- breathing was becoming extremely difficult. I remember praying out loud to God, "Please God! If you're there, you got to help us!" Then I gave the door one final jerk and it was yanked off its hinges as if by some force much greater than my own strength, perhaps by the very hand of God. The bottom of the door had scraped the hide off the tops of all my toes. We hurried out to the car to get to a phone, knowing that it would be hopeless.


It had been snowing real hard that night and we already had a good foot of snow on the ground. It was a weird night! I had never heard of thunder and lightening during a snow storm but it certainly happened that night...... I dropped everyone off at my father-in-laws house and high tailed it up to another relative to call the fire department. After the call my wife's uncle gave me a jacket, boots, and a belt to wear (my pants kept falling down-- in my hurry to get out of the burning inferno I grabbed a pair of oversized jeans which I wore on the outside of my regular jeans to help keep the cold and wet down from working in the snow). By the time I got back to the fire there was nothing but a pile of ashes and a swollen propane tank, which exploded like a rifle shot.


It was seven hours later that morning when my wife went into labor and our second son, Greg was born. The ordeal of that fire and falling over the coffee table had brought on labor pains a couple of months early. Greg was born that morning and we discovered that our fiery trial wasn't over yet. He was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and the doctor said that my wife was bleeding internally.


If that fire hadn't of happened both of them would have died before she could have given birth! Was it the hand of God again? Even though the horror of the night had shaken us it was only added to by the next event which shocked us even further --Greg was born with a severe cleft pallet and cleft lip! He would have to brave it through several surgeries before he would be even close to normal by the time he reached the age of eighteen.


Two years later, Saturday- 5 November 1972, still not over the trauma of the fire, the surgery's Greg had already gone through, and my drinking, we faced still another horrible nightmare. A young man who was a brother to my brother-in-law's wife came to Remer to hunt deer. We had no idea he was coming. We didn't even know that he existed at the time. But my wife and I left our two sons with her folks (to keep them safe in case of a stray bullet) and we went off to my folks' place where I would hunt.


I remember quite well the sound of a siren and thought that it was strange one should be this far back in the hills way off the beaten path (my folks lived over between Hackensack, Akely, and Walker in the Shingobee Hills). I was well over a mile and a half into the woods stalking a deer. I heard a voice-- just a whisper over the moan of the wind-- and I stopped! I waited a few seconds and sure enough I heard it again: "George!" It was faint but it was definitely someone hollering my name. So I turned and started back towards the sound and stopped after walking for a while.


Then I heard it much clearer: "George!" "George!" “Hurry! There's been an accident!" I started running towards the voice, my heart was pounding, the hills and the brush seemed not to slow me down. Then I met my half brother, Bruce, and he said that there had been an accident and I needed to get home as fast as I could. We ran through those hills all the way to my mom and dad's place and there was the sheriff's car. I took off my hunting clothes while the deputy was explaining what happened. We jumped into my brother's car and the deputy sheriff gave us an escort all the way to Remer (46 miles away) and he wasn't driving slow either.


All my wife and I knew was that something had happened; there had been an accident and that both of us needed to be there. When we arrived at my father-in-laws house there were two other police cars and a state highway patrol car there. By this time we were both panicky and I somehow knew in my heart that something had happened to one of our children. As we walked through the door into the house Louis Chalich, the county Sheriff, took hold of my arm. He was a friend of mine and of our family. But something didn't seem right-- there was something out of place, something or someone missing. Scottie!


When Louis said that our son had been shot my heart almost stopped. my wife went into great sobs and I asked him in a frozen sort of voice who did it? and he said the young man who was sitting by his mother (the brother-in-law of my brother-in-law). I looked over at him and just the sight of what I must have looked like only added to his fear. I asked if that was him and the response was yes. I came unglued! I literally exploded out of the sheriff's arms and bounded towards this killer of children but a deputy grabbed me and then there were two of them holding me and a third in front of me. I wanted revenge, now!


They took me aside then hauled the other guy out the door to a squad car. I was asked if I wanted to press charges. That made me even angrier. I said "Yes!" I was then asked to come down to the Cass County Courthouse in Walker to do this on the following Monday morning. This was Saturday and I was already plotting what I would do.


Monday morning came and I received a call from the sheriff's department: "Mr. Collins? This is the Cass County Sheriff's Department. You are being advised not to enter into Crow Wing County unless we are being notified of it. The young man who you were going to press charges against has been released over to the Crow Wing County authorities and has been put in the custody of the Brainerd State Mental Hospital. Keep us posted as to your whereabouts." Now I can't remember if those were the exact words but they should have been very close.


I was completely devastated! My wife had ended up in the hospital in a state of depression and I had become one angry and bitter person. I started drinking more than I did before. A week after our son's funeral I was told that the man who killed our son had spent just two weeks in the mental hospital and was released, never to come into Cass County unless he had permission to do so. I began a man hunt!


For the next five years I relentlessly hunted for this guy with a premeditated vengeance. I had become an alcoholic. I had despised anyone and everyone. I didn't care who I hurt or who I walked over to get where I was going. I had only one thought, one aim, one goal-- to kill the person who killed our son. Meanwhile, my family was falling apart.


It was the Spring of 1977 when I finally came face to face with this character that had eluded me like some sort of mystical ghost. But I found him, at last. At that time I carried a .357 Magnum which I hand loaded all my ammo for and every bullet was loaded with several more drams of powder than was recommended. I also had the bullets drilled out and the lead's filled with tin and mercury. I thought of what one shot would do as I looked this man in eyes. I took one shell out of my pocket and tossed it to him to see if he could guess what it was and what it could do.


And while he was looking at it my mind raced back to that morning of the opening of deer hunting season in November of 1972. His mother said that he was being ornery and she had told him to go outside and cool off. He stomped out of the house saying that he ought to kill her. Once outside he picked up his 12 gauge shotgun and fired a slug through the wall of the house. The heavy piece of lead hit a spike in the wall and it mushroomed as it made its deadly path towards its intended victim. But his intended victim was holding our son, Scottie. The expanded hunk of lead entered our son's left chest cavity just under his arm pit and exited under the right armpit, piercing his little heart on its deadly path through his two year old body.


I thought of the blood, the mess, the shock it had to of made in his little mind, not understanding what had happened, and then dying there in that awful mess. And this guy I was looking at, he spent two nights in a county jail, two weeks in a mental hospital, ended up cutting his mother with a knife several times over the years and is still free!

There was no justice. I wanted him to suffer pain and torment. I wanted to brutally rip this person apart inch by inch until he couldn't scream from the pain and the agony of it any more.


Then I reached out from the flashback and remembered the bullet I had tossed to him and took it back. As I did I pulled out my revolver and pulled the hammer back. He knew what I intended to do. His knee's buckled under him as he slid down the wall; his face turned as white snow; his mouth was wide open, spit running down the sides of his cheeks; his eyes were sunken in their sockets and filled with terror; he knew what was about to happen. Everyone in that room knew what was about to happen. But nobody was prepared for what did happen.


I remember squeezing the trigger but couldn't squeeze it far enough to make it fire. Instead I heard a voice kind of far off at first. It sounded like my grandfather, but that was impossible. This voice had power in it. The house shook and the ground trembled. And I released the hammer. "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord!" I looked around me at all the people in that room and they seemed to be frozen in time. They were all staring at me in shock at my purpose. I thought I was just hearing things so I pulled the hammer back a second time and began to squeeze the trigger. The house shook and the ground trembled a second time. And that voice, closer, but yet so far away and even more powerful and filled with greater restraint then before: "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord!"


And a second time I looked around and nothing changed. Everyone was still sitting where they were with the same look of terror on their faces as they stared at me in absolute unbelief.


And I recalled that the only time I had ever heard those words was when my grandfather would read his old King James Bible to me when I was a kid growing up. Every day for many years he would read to me the Word of God. But it couldn't be . . . could it? It didn't really matter. I hauled the hammer of that deadly .357 the third time and squeezed the trigger only to have it stop the third time!


And I thought to myself, "Oh, God, what's going on here?" And at that moment God spoke to my heart. He told me to look real close at the man I wanted to kill. And I as I looked into the man's eye's God said that he is already suffering for what he had done. And if I killed this man it would be murder and I would end up in jail the rest of my life, plus, face Him at judgment for it. I released the hammer of the pistol and stood up.


When I did everyone else seemed to come out of the trance they were in. I said to my brother-in-law, "Come on, let's get out of here." In the car he looked at me and asked, "What in tarnation happened back there?" I proceeded to tell him what had taken place and the only thing he saw and heard was rumbling and the house shaking a bit and me with the gun in my hand then we were on our way out the door. It had all happened so fast that he didn't know what had taken place. But for me, I put it all behind me, so I thought, and went back to being a lumberjack and a drunk.


The following spring (1978) I was working under my car (a 1972 Ford LTD Ranch Wagon) when the 3x10 planks holding the car on the blocks broke and the car fell on me, pinning me to the ground, breaking my right shoulder and snapping all my ribs on the right side. I lay there in shock! I could feel blood run down inside my body; my right arm was totally useless-- the muscles had all been pulled loose from my neck to my hip on the right side also. Then there was that immensely bright bluish light that surrounded me and the car.


Actually, the light was so bright that I could not even see the car which was on top of me pushing my broken bleeding body into the dirt. My wife come running outside; her sister and one of her brothers were there; some in-laws were there and had seen it happen (they didn't see the bright, blinding light though). What they saw was the car being pushed up (they thought it was me doing it) and me moving my body out from under it. It wasn't me at all! I was totally helpless under there with nearly 5,000 pounds of metal lying on top of me.


It was that bright light. Was it the presence of God . . . . again? Did He send an angel to lift the car and pull me out? Why was it that I could see and hear these things and nobody else could see and hear them when we were all so very close together when these things were happening? Why was God allowing me to go through all these apparent catastrophes? Why all the pain, all the hardship, all the trauma?


I began to question God like never before. I don't ever remember asking Him into my life. But maybe my grandfather had something to do with it when I was a small lad and he would read his Bible to me every evening during the week and twice a day on the weekends. Or my mother, perhaps-- I don't know. But somehow God's Word had gotten implanted in my heart and during those times of apparent rebellion and crises the Holy Spirit would bring those Words to my mind with great conviction. And if God really did exist, why all this trouble in my life? But life went on. And now, for the next two years at least, I had prescription drugs to mix with my boozing. Wow! What a dummy! It only intensified all the bitterness and pain and anger I had inside me.


By the time January of 1980 came along I wanted a divorce. I was too involved with myself to care about family or friends anymore. I come home late one night, drunk, and found my wife gone and a baby sitter there with the kids instead. She said that Dorothy (my wife) had gone to church. My wife's brother was with me. We ate a cold supper and were laughing about my wife going to church that night.


When she arrived home there appeared to be something different about her-- as if she had gone through some sort of transformation. For the next year she was in church every Sunday and she made sure our kids were in Sunday School. Our son, Greg (at the age of eight), had asked Christ into his heart one year before my wife did. His Sunday School teacher (Libby Seifert) had the privilege of leading him to the Lord and they were both praying for the rest of our family's salvation. Then my wife accepted Jesus and now there were at least three people praying for me.


Then one night a year after my wife's salvation experience I went to church on a dare by her and some of her "Christian friends" (Paul and Pat Ritter). They had come to visit one evening when their church was having Revival Meetings.


Of course I had been drinking and showing off playing my banjo and guitar. They challenged me to come to church and listen to the evangelist and his wife sing and play their instruments. Well, there was a part of me that really liked Southern and Blue Grass Gospel music, so I went. That night, dearly beloved, the Lord spoke to my heart again. Only this time it was different! He said to my heart: "All things are now ready. Come!" And I went to that altar and wept. I was tired and lonely and bitter and angry inside, and I was living a meaningless life. It really wasn't the sermon that was given which prompted me to go forward; it was the message in a hymn that was sung: "Is Your All On The Altar?"


I can well remember sitting in that pew way in the back of the church and sweating, my heart pounding, my mind racing, my body weakened by all the turmoil and there was that voice speaking to me again. I could hear grandpa’s voice says: "God's a going' ta git a hold a ya one of these days, Judge, cuz He's a plan fer ya, and He's a going ta shake ya an He’s a goin ta use ya. So be ready, ya hear!" Only grandpa called me "Judge" for George. But he's been nearly twenty years dead and buried-- it couldn't be! And yet that voice seemed to be pulling me, coaxing me, wooing me to go kneel at the altar and seek the forgiveness of God. And I couldn't stop; I wouldn't of even if I could of at that moment.


For somehow I knew in my heart and soul that it was the right thing to do. And I went on shaking knees, tears in my eyes, heart pounding like ten thousand drums, and somehow I felt not alone-- it was as though someone was walking up to that altar at the front of the church with me--, but no one was beside me, at least that I could see.


I knelt there as the congregation was singing, "You have longed for sweet peace, and for faith to increase, and have earnestly, fervently prayed; But you cannot have rest, or be perfectly blest, until all on the altar is laid." You know, I was thinking as I knelt there that I would spend hours out behind the barn these past few months talking to God, pleading with Him, begging Him to help me. I had tried to reach out in my own way and on my own terms but felt alone and unheard. And here, here in this little old country church, here it seems as though time is standing still and God is reaching out and touching me with His mercy and grace and love. And I remember I was truly in a dark hour in my life and the situation was critical for the salvation of my soul-- I needed help!


"Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid, your heart does the Spirit control? You can only be blest and have peace and sweet rest, as you yield Him your body and soul." Oh, how I longed for sweet peace and rest and to be freed from all this bitterness and hatred and violence and anger and alcohol.


"Oh, we never can know what the Lord will bestow of the blessings for which we have prayed, till our body and soul He doth fully control, and our all on the altar is laid. Is your all on the altar? . . . . ." Now I hear it, now I understand. I need to at this precise moment take everything I have and everything I am and lay it all here at the altar, right here in the front of this church, and leave there. He is asking me to get rid of my "self" -- to die to everything I am and have and come to Him for life. What did I have to lose? I was at the end of my rope and there wasn't even a knot to hang on to. And this evangelist is basically telling me that Jesus has already paid the price for my sins by the shedding of His own blood. Then they begin singing again . . . . "Who can tell all the love He will send from above? Oh, how happy our hearts will be made! Oh, what fellowship sweet we shall share at His feet, when our all on the altar is laid!


I remember crying out to God at that moment and I remember praying, "O God, have mercy on me a sinner!" I didn't even know I had prayed a Biblical prayer, I just knew that that was what I needed to say. And at that very moment God reached into my heart and soul and lifted the burdens, the pain, the guilt, the shame, the anger, the bitterness, the hatred, the violence, the alcohol-- I was truly delivered, regenerated in that moment. And for the very first time in my life I felt a peace, a sweet peace. I had, by faith, received Jesus Christ into my heart as my Personal Savior and as the Lord of my life. It was an instant miracle and I was delivered of all that I had become.


I shall never be able to thank Him enough for all that He has done for me. My feet were taken from the valley of despair and set upon the mountain of joy. >From the pit of loneliness I was resurrected and now I have hope for the first time in my life. That was nearly seventeen years ago and my faith is still stayed on Him. There have been times when it hasn't been real easy living the Christian life but He has never failed me yet, even though I have failed Him numerous times.


God has given me a compassion for the souls of men and a deep passion for the Great Commission. And I am here to tell you folks that "You can only be blest and have peace and sweet rest, as you yield Him your body and soul!" The weight He lifted off my shoulders was a real blessing. I knew that night that I was saved. I had become "born again."


The Apostle John tells us in the First letter of his epistles that, "it is by the personal inward witness of the new birth that eternal life is made real in our life, and only through Jesus Christ can eternal life be received" (Chapter 1: 9-11, 19 KJV). In verse 13 he says, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." And in verse 12, "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."

You see, folks, eternal life, as John puts it, is God's work of grace within the repentant sinner who believes and is saved (John 1:10-13).


And it wasn't the baptism I received as a child, it wasn't my good works, it wasn't my moral or philosophical viewpoint (which was twisted), it was the night I humbly said "yes" to a loving and merciful God and accepted His presence into my heart and life by faith. I become a justified child of the King, precious in His sight. Praise the Lord!


After my born again experience that night in January 1981 I thought I was invincible or incapable of being conquered by anyone or anything this side of heaven. After all, I was a child of the King and He said that He would never leave me nor forsake me, right? And I had Holy Ghost power and could rebuke devils and perform miracles and nothing bad could ever happen to me-- wrong! My faith was about to be shaken in such a manner as I had never dreamed possible.


It was August 25, 1981 just seven months after I had accepted Christ into my heart and life when disaster hit again. I had taken my brothers logging truck over to Hill City, MN. to have the hydraulic oil reservoir for the loader welded. It was a bright sunny Friday and I was happy and excited. After the necessary repairs were made I got into the truck and headed home. My plans were to stop by my house to pick up a quick sandwich on the way back to our timber sale for a final load of logs for that week.


It was 11:50am when I drove away from Lemco Hydraulics that morning. The sun was shining, it was warm, and I remember looking at my watch as after I had turned and was headed west on HWY 200. I had just shifted into 9th gear and was traveling at a speed of about 53-54 mph. -- it was exactly 12:00pm (noon). It was at that precise moment of glancing at the speedometer, shifting into the top gear, and looking at my watch, all at the same glance that it happened. The front end of that big green 1980 International truck began to literally jump up and down. It was bouncing at least four feet off the highway and headed towards the ditch.


As it began to go off the edge of the tar unto the dirt I turned the steering wheel to the left, hoping it would come back on the highway. The steering wheel just spun in my hands as if it were attached to nothing. I was sitting in over eight tons of steel heading for the ditch at a speed of 54mph. At that moment I touched the brakes-- nothing happened! I did the only next thing I knew would get me to safety: I down shifted a gear and pressed the accelerator all the way to the floor. The truck was tipping over into the ditch when all of a sudden it lurched straight up into the air like some sort of a circus act. I shall never forget that moment.

There I was-- over forty feet in the air sitting inside a truck that was balanced on its rear axle and looking into the blackest cloud I had ever seen. Up to this point I had no fear, but now I thought "Oh God, have mercy on me." And I knew that I would be in for a wild ride the next few seconds. That was when the fear of broken bones and a mangled body, perhaps even death, become a reality factor in this mysterious light to darkness encounter.


The truck seemed to have been propelled by some mysterious force as it went hurling across the highway with tremendous force. It came down on the front axle and when it did my body turned into a human projectile as it headed towards the windshield with lightning speed. But my grip on the steering wheel and my muscle hardened body from years of working as a lumberjack impeded the force of the lunge. But not without other bodily damage. My chest caught that big steering wheel and pushed it into the windshield, along with my head. I could feel something ripping or tearing apart inside my chest cavity and the taste of blood in my mouth and glass being forced into my face was a frightening experience. I thought I was going to die at that moment. But then that truck, over eight tons of steel turned and twisted and tumbled further down the highway. And I was hanging for my life with every fiber of my being. And I prayed. Oh how I prayed. And I asked God why?


Why was this happening to me? I thought I was saved! My life flashed before my eyes and time seemed to stand still once again during a juncture in my already crises filled life.

I can still remember the logging chains smacking my body like horrible whips, and the two foot steel stake pocket extensions (four of them used for lengthening the steel takes for hauling long logs and weighed about thirty pounds each) hitting my body like blows from a post mall, and there were tools, tire wrenches, etc. all being tossed around inside that truck like popcorn in popper slamming my body with dreadful force. I felt like a punching bag. But I still had a firm hold on that steering wheel.


Then I was upside down with all this iron making bruises on my body and I saw my face in the drivers door window and I noticed something which completely brought shock to my system-- my left leg was twisted around my neck and the toe of my left boot was kicking me in the teeth! Perhaps you've all heard that old saying, "I could kick myself in the teeth for doing that?" Well, It was literally happening to me.


I recall very vividly the graphics or details of this experience. My body was weakening from the loss of blood and broken bones and torn muscles. I had chunks tar and glass flying around inside the cab of the truck and hitting me in the face and there was the taste of blood in my mouth--- I was scared. I just knew I was going to die for I could feel the highway vibrating and scraping on that window that my face was involuntary being pressed against and at any moment it would explode and the highway speeding by just inches from my nose would pull my head unto its deadly clutch and rip it off. I knew that I was about to be sucked under that huge chunk of twisted and broken metal and it would be over. I prayed one last time and then let go. My mouth was pressed unto the glass from the weight of my body forcing it to stay there and I saw the big shiny West Coast mirror pass by my eyes under the window and making a deadly thump on the glass. I had no more strength left in me.


Then it happened! In order for the next horror filled event to have taken place the truck and what was happening would had to of been frozen in time. It already seemed like an eternity had passed before me and yet no more than one or two seconds had elapsed from the time the accident began to where I was now at.


I remember some strange and unknown words coming out of my mouth. They seemed to come from somewhere deep in side my being. And in a flash that window turned instantly into a portal through which I could see another dimension—hell! It was as though someone had magically turned that last unbroken window that my face was pressed against into a movie screen and I was looking down into the very entrance into the pits of hell with Lucifer himself looking back up at me. He wore no red union suit, he had no horns protruding from his temples, he had no goatee, no long spaded tail, nor did he carry a pitch fork. I could see his face, all twisted and burning with hatred from the beginning of his rebellion to that moment of wanting revenge and yet was caught just short of being able to accomplish his evil purposes. His eyes were beady, his pupils dilated small, his shiny black hair laid straight back on his head, some of his teeth appeared missing, and he was wearing what looked like a heavy wool trench coat. His left arm appeared bent and frozen across his chest and covering the area where his heart might be.


There was a clay cup of red liquid stuck in his left hand which he could not get to his mouth in order to partake of. I believe it was a perpetual reminder of the shed blood of the Master, Jesus Christ, which he could neither taste nor rid himself of. It was there to remind his of his past and his future. Then my nostrils were filled with the smell of burning flesh and the stench of putrid sulfur and centuries of filth and wickedness from that awful place. I could hear screams coming from behind a huge door which Satan was standing in front of. The room he was in was filled with dark candles giving off dim light which created glimmering shadows that intensified the scene before my terror filled eyes. I thought I was only imagining what was happening but I could still feel the truck sliding and tumbling down the highway and hear the sound of metal scraping on the tar, and the engine roaring, and tires squealing, and the shriek of glass scraping on tar, and my own voice screaming, and pieces of iron slamming against my body.


That old devil looked up at me with a hideous smile on his darkened face and with a sadistic gall, said, "Let go of the side of the truck and the steering wheel. It'll be over soon. We need you down here." And at the same time he was speaking to me he was also motioning for me with his right arm to come to him. That really horrified me! I recall praying as loud and as fast as I could and rebuking Satan in the name of Jesus.


I remember those words again-- strange words, foreign words, unknown words coming from somewhere deep within me. And the very moment they were uttered Satan threw up his right arm to cover his face as everything around me seemed to disappear in the midst of the brightest, whitest-bluish light I had ever seen. Then the window exploded in my face! Chunks of tar mixed with fragments of broken glass impacted my face and the highway quickly grabbed hold of my hair and began to pull my head out the truck in its deadly grip.

At precisely the very instant that Lucifer screamed and threw up his right arm to veil his face, and the window was shattered into my face from the highway rubbing against it, and everything turned immensely white around me, there came over me and through me a sort of an electrifying peace and the pain in my broken, bruised, and bleeding body felt distant and faraway as I was being engulfed by this white-white mist.


I also felt myself being carried upwards and the higher I was being lifted the more peace and serenity I felt flow through my being. Yet at the same time I was still conscience of what was happening inside that truck and could still hear the noise of metal and glass and tires screeching on the highway and my own screams of prayer for deliverance. I was there inside that twisted heap of metal yet I was above it in a sea of whiteness and peace and painlessness.


Then I was there, wherever "there" might have been. As my head came up through the white mist I saw a pair of sandaled feet. I looked at those feet and saw scars on them. My blood filled eyes proceeded to look upwards at a robe as white as the mist which surrounded me and then at two outstretched arms, the palms of his hands were facing me and I also saw the scars where those huge Roman nails left their ugly impressions and I knew in Whose presence I was. As I looked further upward into His face and glanced briefly into His eyes, I saw two thousand years of rapture and love looking back at me, I hung my head and wept like I had never done before. I knew that I was not worthy to be in the presence of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.


Folks, it was the greatest privilege of my entire life knowing I was in His presence and had actually looked upon His glory, if you will, and then have Him audibly speak to me. Far off to my right there was a throne and to the right of that golden throne there was a light so bright it was blinding and I could not look at it but had to turn my head away from it. As I turned my head I noticed another form bent over in that white mist holding me up. His arms were huge, muscular and bronze colored. That's all I saw of what I think was an angel, my guardian angel.


But the voice of my Beloved Savior spoke to me and He said, "BEHOLD, MY CHILD, DO NOT FEAR. YOUR TIME HAS NOT COME YET. GO AND PREPARE YOURSELF."

Then the truck came to a sudden stop, the white mist was gone, the blackness was gone, the sun was shining, and I was pinned upside down between the two bucket seats of that big logging truck with my right leg twisted behind my back and around the two shifting levers and the emergency brake lever. My left leg was wrapped around my neck, literally, and bones were protruding thought my knee and my groin. Both my arms were bent so far in back of my head that my elbows were behind my ears and my hands were in the middle of my back. But do you want to know what was so amazing? I was singing praises to God and lifting Jesus up in worship and I could feel the presence of the Holy Ghost holding my broken body and comforting my soul and my mind and speaking to my heart! That was amazing! There were songs, and choruses, and words coming from my lips that I had never heard before nor have I heard since. I was happy to be alive and my soul was flooded with peace and joy.


Then I could smell gasoline and heard that big V-8 engine chugging as it lay on its side. I asked God immediately for direction and He told me to reach up and shut the ignition switch off. How could I? My arms were pinned way back behind my head! But He said "Move them!" And I did and I remember hearing bones popping in my arms and shoulders and then my right arm was reaching for the switch and I shut it off.


Then God told me to take my right arm and grab hold of my right leg and pull it up from between the shifting levers and the emergency brake lever. I couldn't see my right leg at all. Actually, I couldn't even feel it! I was more concerned about my left leg and the pain which was beginning to have its affect on me. But God said the "right leg" so I reached down behind me-- I couldn't turn my head because there was no feeling in my neck -- and felt around for my right leg. I found it and started pulling upwards from my upside down position and forced my leg, which was making popping sounds also in the hip and knee area, somehow (by the grace of God), to move up to rest on the seat above me. I was still singing praises. Hallelujah!


As feeling came slowly back into my right leg I began to panic a bit at the condition of my back and my left leg. My back was jammed down in-between the two bucket seats between tool boxes, stake pockets, tire wrenches, and logging chains. It felt as though there were ten thousand darning needles sticking in my lower back (there was actually glass somehow ground into my lower back).


But the blessed Holy Spirit was ministering to me during this time and as I prayed for help God spoke to me and I sang praises to Jesus. I was to take my left hand and put a firm grip on my left then take my right hand and grab my left foot, lift it from around my neck and throw it up the sight in front of me, all in one single motion.


I thought it to be impossible but God, once again, reminded me that He was in control and that I needed to listen to Him and just obey what He was asking me to do. So I did just that. I remember seeing my leg go up the seat to rest perfectly beside my right leg . . . . . . then it slid back down the seat, the foot stopping where the knee should have been and my knee was up just about where my hip was! And I screamed in agony. Then God said to take that foot again, now that it was in position, and place one hand on the knee again and one hand on the foot and to throw it up the seat but this time put my right foot under the heal of my left foot and the kick it into the "H" in the middle of the steering wheel (the truck was a 1980 International Harvester and the steering wheel was designed with the letter "H" in the middle of it). I obeyed. And in one swift hand pushing foot kicking motion that left foot went upwards into that "H" in the middle of the steering wheel and hung there in traction. Praise God! I began to sing praises again.


The truck was lying on its right (passenger) side and took up the entire highway (HWY 200 is a fairly wide highway). A car come screeching to a stop in the ditch on my right side and a man looked at me out of his window with a horrifying look upon his face. He had several kids and probably his wife in the car with him. They were all as white as sheets and terrified at what they were looking at. They saw a man all covered with blood, upside down, his body appeared to be a mass of broken bones, and the crazy guy was singing and laughing and joking and praising God. They wanted to go get help but I said, "No. There was help on the way."


They asked, "Did someone already stop?" I said "No one stopped." And they wanted to know how I knew and I just said, "I know because the Lord told me." Then we heard the sirens coming. The person who had called it in saw the whole thing happen. He said he was driving a truck identical to the one I was driving except his had a stainless steel milk tank on it. He had told 911 that it looked as if the whole front end of that truck had buckled up before it went tumbling down the highway.


But I saw no one on that highway. There was no one behind me and no one in front of me. One moment the sun was shining and the next moment it is as black as the Ace of Spades and a heavy rain pouring down. Then the accident and after it is over the sun is shining brightly again and there is no trace of rain. Two weeks after the accident I tried to get in touch with the person who called 911 but neither he nor his truck could be found. It seemed they were non existent. Perhaps God once again intervened in my life with a miracle of grace and mercy. Someone had to have been praying!


I spent the next two weeks in Itasca Memorial Hospital with my left leg in traction. When they first got me into the E.R. they rushed me into an I.C.U. room and that's where they did all the x-rays and surgery.


And let me tell you this: the surgical procedure they used was barbaric! They had every part of my body strapped down so that I couldn't move. They had been talking and "assumed" that every bone in my body was broken. The ambulance crew had strapped a back board on me; a neck brace; an air bag around my left leg from my foot all the way to my hip; and my arms were strapped to my chest and stomach.


The hospital room was full of people. Doctors giving orders, nurses scurrying to and fro, some of my family, and my pastor. A radiologist brought in a portable x-ray machine and they forced it under my mangled left leg. Another technician brought in a stainless steel rod about sixteen inches long and about 1/8 inch thick. That rod had long slanted threads on one end of it somewhat similar to a lag bolt. I had no idea what it was for but I was about to find out very soon. One doctor moved the rod around my leg until it showed up on the screen of the x-ray machine while the other doctor was measuring and nodding and making ink marks on my leg just above my knee.


"Stop! Right there." Then an assistant brought in a cart with some tools on it: an ancient looking yellow sand filled hammer, a pair of old vice grips, some clamps, and some coils of cable. I had been asking for something to curb the pain but they said "no." The paramedics weren't even allowed to give me anything from the time they got me out of the wreckage and during my trip to the hospital. The doctors had asked if I had been unconscious and they said no. They asked me if I had been knocked out and I said no. I had been conscience during the whole ordeal.


"Whap!" I screamed. "Whap!" I screamed again. One doctor was smacking that steel rod with that old yellow sand filled hammer and another doctor was turning it with that old pair of vice grips. They hit and turned-- I screamed. I screamed until no sound would come out of my mouth. Then the rod punctured its way through my leg just above my knee and I thought I would pass out-- but I didn't.


When it was over they hung three hundred pounds of weight on a cable and pulley system at one end of the bed and five hundred pounds at the other end. Then they elevated my leg into a bent position and attached those clamps to the cables and tightened them unto the rod going through the bone of my leg. All I could do was moan-- my throat was sore from the screaming. They still wouldn't give me any pain medication. They never injected any Novocain into my leg before the installed that piece of steel through the center of my leg about an inch above the knee.


All that took place from noon until 2:00pm and at 4:20pm, still conscience, in severe pain, and hungry, with my wife standing by the bed beside me they finally came in and brought me something for the pain and a small dish of warm spinach.


I asked the nurse why they had waited so long before giving something for the pain and her reply was, "If they had given you anything for the pain or any Novocain for the surgery you would have gone into cardiac arrest because of all the adrenaline in your blood stream." They give me the shot and I started to eat that green looking grassy substance and discovered that I had some tar and glass in my mouth yet. That ended my eating for a while.

A couple of days later, still in the same bed, unable to move my bruised but healing body they decided to change sheets and put an egg shell mattress under me. When they lifted me up they discovered there was glass and tar ground into my lower back. So they had to work that out of my skin. The second week in traction they brought in another stainless steel rod about eighteen inches long and 5/8 inch thick, with self cutting edges and said that they were going to insert that into, my leg the following morning. I immediately panicked and said "Not without knocking me out you ain't!" The doctor laughed.


They took me down for surgery the following morning and the last thing I remember was saying "Praise the Lord." When I recovered my left leg felt as big the truck I had the accident in and it was in extreme pain and burning like crazy.


They had opened my leg from the left side of the knee all the way up to my hip bone. After cleaning out the bone fragments they made an incision across my left pelvic area then ground off part of the pelvic bone so they could pop the femur bone out to drill a hole into the middle of it. Then they inserted that $1200 dollar Brady Splint into the hole and hammered it down through the femur to where the bone was broken, aligned the bones together, and then hammered the surgical steel rod through the lower half and into the knee knew just above the joint. Then they stitched and taped my leg back up. It took about four days before the burning and most of the swelling left.


After two weeks they sent me home with a pair of crutches and a lot of pain pills. It took a good three months of excruciating painful exercise and therapy before I could lift that leg with a heavy boot on it. I was an avid deer hunter and I wasn't about to let the hunting season slip by me no matter how crippled I was. I missed the first day but went out the second day (Sunday) early; shot my six point buck; my uncle field dressed it; some deer hunters passing by dragged it out of the woods and loaded it on my pickup. We went home and registered the deer, hung it up, cleaned up then went to church with my family—and all before 10:30am.


Its springtime '82 and I had just come home from the clinic a bit discouraged. That rod had been in my leg for nine months and there was no calcium forming around the broken bones. The doctor said that I would have to wear that rod in my leg for at least another eight to ten months. But I wanted it out, now!


I went to a revival meeting the following night with my wife and some friends-- it was a rainy Friday evening-- over in Cass Lake, MN at a Christian & Missionary Alliance Church. When the service was over the evangelist looked down at me from the platform and said, "Don't you leave, God wants to heal you." I thought, "Yeh, sure." to myself but stood up and slipped around the corner into the front pew. The evangelist, Rev. Bill Putnam, came down and sat in a chair in front of me. He picked up my feet and set them on the chair in front of him and then began to pray for my healing.


I remember feeling a hot, searing, burning sensation traveling down my whole left side from my head to the bottom of my foot but there was absolutely no pain involved that I could react to. It was strange, this feeling, but I had such a tremendous amount of peace with it and began to praise God for it. My wife said that my body was shaking and that I was sweating a lot (but I remember none of that-- only the unpainful burning going down my whole left side.


After it was over Brother Bill (that's what I called him because he was a friend and brother in Christ, also the evangelist at the church in Remer who spoke and sang the night I accepted the Lord.) said to stand up and walk and I did. When I walked into the church I was limping with a cane and my left foot was twisted inward and I was in a lot of pain. But when I stood up my foot was straightened out, there was absolutely no pain, and I could walk without limping and without the aid of a cane. Praise the Lord! That has been over fifteen years ago and I am still healed today and continue to give God the glory for it.


I went to the clinic the following morning (Saturday) and asked if they could remove the rod out of my leg. The doctor who put it in said "no." But I insisted that he do an x-ray anyway. I remember his words: "You were just in here a couple of days ago (Thursday) and the x-ray showed no calcium deposits around the fractured leg. If we do an x-ray it will be completely at your own expense."


They took a picture of my left leg and had to go sit in the waiting room. About twenty minutes later Dr. Karrish came out with somewhat of a puzzled look on his face and said, "George, come over here." I did and he showed me the x-ray. He said, "Look, this leg has so much calcium formed around it that it looks to be ten times stronger than your right leg. It is absolutely amazing. What happened?" All I said was, "God healed me last night and I want that rod out." He asked me "When?" and I said, "Today!" He laughed but went immediately to set up an appointment for Monday morning.


All day Sunday I was excited then came Monday morning and I was to be at the hospital before 6:00am. I arrived on time and they got me all prepared for the surgical removal of that rather expensive piece of metal.


I went under with praises coming from my lips and come to still saying praises. The attending nurse asked my name, age, where I was born, and my birthday then took from recovery to a hospital room. She then asked if the specialist who removed the rod from my leg could come and speak to me and I said "yes."


A few minutes later a middle-aged man walked in and introduced himself as doctor "so-and-so" (that's because I can't remember his name) from the Duluth Clinic and he was carrying the rod from my leg in his hand. He had a rather puzzled look on his face. The first thing he asked was if I was strong enough to stand up and I said "sure." I got out of bed and stood beside it. He asked me to stand on my tiptoes and walk towards the far wall. When I got there he asked me to stop, stand on my heels, turn around, and walk towards him. Which I did without any problem.


He was surprised at the strength I had after just coming out of surgery. I was about four feet from him when he asked me to stop and stand flatfooted. Then he proceeded to tell me about that stainless steel rod in his hands. He said, "This is 825 Surgical Steel: it doesn't bend, crack, or twist-- it shatters. This rod is twisted, bent and cracked in three places. This type of surgical stainless steel would have to have been to the melting point for this to happen. Furthermore, your leg would have disintegrated from the intense heat that would have caused this. Now, tell me: what happened?"


So I shared with this doctor how God had reached out in His sovereign mercy and by grace performed a miracle of healing in my leg. He looked at me for a brief moment then looked back down at the rod in his hands. He spoke without looking at me and said: "There are a lot of people out there walking around with broken Brady Splints in their legs. They break off and we can only get the top half out. This is just unreal. But I guess it just goes to show WHO is still in control!" He then handed me the rod and walked out.


I now keep it in a wooden box as a part of my personal testimony of the grace and power of Almighty God.


It was June 14 of '82 and my doctor released me to go back to work doing light duty labor. It was on my eleventh day of work that the next "twist of fate" left me crippled for a time. I was bent over cutting a white oak tree down and the chainsaw kicked out of the tree and into my right leg. I felt the razor sharp chain rip up the front of the bone halfway between the knee and the ankle. The end of the beaver tail got pulled into the calf of the leg from the speed of the chain and the momentum of the kickback as it cut its deadly path through my leg. My instant reaction was the squeeze of the throttle (wide open) which gave it even more power and depth into the leg and I jerked as hard and as fast as I could which only added to the mangled mess of flesh and bone being ground up by that meat hungry chain making its deadly revolutions around the chain bar cutting and ripping and tearing its way out.


The chainsaw landed upside down on the ground and I was still bent over looking at my leg to make an assessment of the damage. What I saw is much too graphic to put into words. My pants leg was laid out over the entire right boot and the mess above the boot left a horrid impression in my mind. I immediately sat down, looked up towards the heaven with tears in my eyes, and with a great big sob I prayed, "Oh God, have mercy on me and please don't let me feel any more pain. I don't think I could handle it at this point." And God took the pain away, folks! I haven't had a bit of pain in that leg for over fifteen years. Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus.


It took me quite some time to get rehabilitated to go back to work but I had to quit being a lumberjack. In 1985 I attended Itasca Community College where I received my G.E.D. then enrolled as a full-time student. I received my A.A. Degree in General Studies by the fall of '86 and enrolled in St. Paul Bible College (now called Crown College) for one semester.

I transferred to Oak Hills Bible College (OHBC) the fall of '87 and pursued a B.A. Degree in Biblical Studies and Pastoral Ministries with a Concentration in Counseling by the Spring of '90. I fulfilled the internship requirements for both degrees at The Remer Christian & Missionary Alliance Church in Remer, MN. in 1991. I was licensed under the C&MA in 1989 and ordained in 1994 at Marcell Community Church in conjunction with OHBC in Marcell, MN. I pastored the Marcell Community Church from July of '92 to January of '97.


Since then I have been to Honduras on a short term missions trip (and plan to go again) and wrote a book titled The Joy Set Before Him based on Hebrews 12:2 where Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit of God to pen these words: "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."


There have been a lot of experiences in my life that, when I look back upon them, I can see the providence and the hand of God protecting me from. And I thank God that someone cared enough when I was a child to help implant some of God's Word into my heart and life.

And just as equally important were all the prayers being sent to the altar of God on my behalf. Without those two important instructions in the Christians life we would be defeated. So I thank God for my grandfather for implanting that Word in my heart and the prayers he and my mom and dad lifted up to God when I was a young lad. And for my son Greg, his Sunday School teacher (Libby Siefert), and the rest of the prayer warriors of the Remer C&MA during those early years in my B.C. (Before Christ) days.


And most of all I thank God for my wife who prayed endlessly, often in great pain and turmoil because of what I was, for my salvation. And a special note of thanks for Paul and Pat Ritter for their love and fellowship and for their kindness and patience during those early years.


I can honestly say that I am the richest man in the world because all my children and daughter-in-law- and son-in-law and my grandchildren love the Lord. What a privilege-- what a blessing-- what more could I ask for? Nothing, absolutely nothing! Except for more grandchildren.


Yes, Jesus loves me this I know; for the Bible tells me so. And I wouldn't be here today if it was not so. What about you? Where are you at with the Lord? If you were to die today do you know for sure that you would go to heaven? Would you like the opportunity to reject Him today? or accept Him? Do you know Him personally? Did you invite Him to come into your heart as your Savior and Lord? If not, please read John 3:14-21; Romans 5:8; 3:23; 6:23; Isaiah 1:18; 43:1-3a; Ephesians 2:8-9; Revelation 3:20; John 14. God bless you all and I hope you enjoyed reading this . . . .


~ Rev. G.H. "Boomer" Collins

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