It's Tuesday night, a time when a group of East Texas ladies meet for Bible Study. Tonight though is different, this is their first meeting in more than seven months. Their last meeting was June18th last year. It would be a day that would change their lives for ever.
Four of ladies that night,on their way to the study in Tyler from Jacksonville, were slammed in the rear by a tractor trailer rig. The study leader, Patti Foster was in the car.
"I had just taken off my seat belt to turn and look at a bunch of flowers I had bought for all the ladies in the Bible study," recalls Patti, "and that is apparently when the impact happened and from there life changed."
Removing her seat belt just seconds before impact may have saved Patti's life.
"Instead of me going down or straight across I went up. An eyewitness told me that I went up and beneath me was the S-U-V I was in, spinning beneath me," say Patti. "The eyewitness said it was as though hands had gone beneath me and suspended me above the S-U-V and when the S-U-V stopped spinning that's when I immediately went down to the ground and there's where the days truly started."
Days of recovery. Patti's injuries were numerous. Among them a fractured skull and serious eye damage. In the first hours, no one knew if she would survive and in the days to come know could be certain if she could fully recover.
For years Patti was a voice of encouragement on Christian radio station KVNE. That eventually led her to a ministry of motivational speaking. But it would be the encouragement others, prayers from friends all over the country that Patti now believes saved and changed her life. "I've thought about why its happened in the sense of now what am it do," says Patti. "But what really compels me through out those questions is simply Patti, live life to its fullest, don't miss any opportunity. When life takes you into another area, where you have to live it, through your own muscles and bones and its becoming very real to you then something takes on a different level inside you, and suddenly the meaning you had before, you can still have after an accident, but it becomes more of yours...it becomes very personal."
Emily Gray was in that car last summer too. When she got to the emergency room doctors discovered she was pregnant. The only miracle, it seemed, to come from that tragic night. Until a few weeks later when Emily had a miscarriage. "That's when you have to say, all right Lord, its Your life, Your gonna have to take over from here, and if its gonna happen its gonna happen...if its not, I'm gonna trust in you," says Emily.
Seven months later trust and faith have a very real place in these ladies lives . Patti has taken giant strides. She has recovered faster and further than anyone ever expected. Emily is again pregnant. But missing from this group is Heather Folden. The 18 year old, one of the youngest in the group, was killed the accident. No one in the group tries to explain her death, they simply cling to the comfort found in their prayers and the miracles they have seen. Trusting that God's will was and is at work.
"That's the thing about this accident," says Emily, "it wasn't just about one person, it wasn't about me, it wasn't about the other three girls but there was so many other lives touched. You know God is so much bigger than any of us, He chooses things to happen for a reason and we know that how we choose different ways for people to react, different ways for peoples lives to be changed and to be moved by Him, its just amazing."
"So many people were touched and that's what it comes down to," says Bible study member Jamie Andrews. "So many people were praying and that's what its all about. She (Patti) had prayers coming from everywhere and that's what pulled her through and pulled all the other girls through."
"I know this looks like a hopeless situation but it doesn't have to be," says Bible study member Allison Sorrels." "You can have a lot of hope because God can do anything. If we try to put limitations on what He can do then we are foolish."
"There is true power in true prayer," says Patti, "that goes to God Almighty. He doesn't forget those prayers , Not only does He hear them, He never forgets them."
And on this Tuesday night the faith and scripture these women study again has new meaning. The power of prayer is not just something to learn about, it is an experience that will be part of their lives forever.