Every Life is a Journey: Here's a Bit of Mine

Every Life is a Journey: Here's a Bit of Mine

Sunday, December 26, 2010

What Happened? Story of Me Nearly Drowning - My Dad’s Perspective

The following was written following an event around 12:30 AM on November 5, 2010 when I hit my head on the dock at my parents home and went unconscious under water. This occurred after a 40 day fast and the most significant spiritual attack I've ever faced, with many parallels to the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4. I was alone when I went beneath the surface.

The following is written from my dad's point of reference:

7 weeks ago I (MY DAD) experienced the most amazing display of God's power, love, mercy & grace....... at about half past midnight, I came home from playing basketball with a bunch of guys even younger than my youngest son (ME) in a local church's gym. It was 46 degrees and drizzling on this Thursday night, November the 4th. The moon and stars were hidden by the clouds, making this an extremely dark night. As I ran the short distance from my truck to my door, through the sounds of the breeze I heard my son out on the pier. I thought nothing of it, since it's not unusual for him to be up late or outside.

The house and nearby water: After taking a shower, I put on sweat pants and was heading towards my computer to catch up on emails, when, unlike almost any other night, instead I walked out in the drizzle to check on my son. As I walked north towards our pier in the York River, I heard something off our eastern shore, not words but sounds, so I quickly checked the pier and saw that he wasn't there, looked back and saw that no cars were missing, and ran to the edge of our eastern shore and started calling out to him, even though I couldn't see him. Something was making a sound of some type and I thought I could see the silhouette of a head and shoulders moving about 200 feet off of the shoreline and called out to him, "Adam... ADAM...ADAM!!!" Now I was shouting, "ADAM IS THAT YOU? ANSWER ME!" I shouted one last time to the top of my lungs, "A-D-A-M!" I got no response, but somehow I knew that it was him, that he was out there, and that he was in trouble.

I ran back to the house, grabbed a high-beam flashlight and a rain jacket, and went back to the cove behind our house, to the only boat that had any chance of getting out because the tide was so low. This was a little 13 ft Boston Whaler, which by the way didn't start the last time I tried to use it. Frantically I tried to get it started to no avail. Since the guy who works for me had winterized it and disconnected the gas line, which was not the normal procedure, I turned around to see what was wrong, reconnected the gas line, and it started almost immediately. With the engine tilted up, I made my way out, dragging the bottom out of the shallow cove. I then went full blast out to where I saw him, which was about 300 feet away from the dock that he had been on that night. Standing in the Boston Whaler, I began turning in circles with the flashlight looking all across the endless water, and saw nothing. I shined the light up on the rocks to see if he had somehow made his way out of the water. Still I saw nothing. Then, way out over 1,000 feet away, the light reflected off of something in the water. But before I made it there, I realized it was only a crab pot marker. It was at that moment that I realized the vastness of the water and the hopelessness of finding him like a needle under a haystack. My son was gone, swept away by the current that runs past our house, underwater and out of sight.

It was at that time that I cried out in desperation to God, "God, take me to my son!" Immediately I felt led to go towards our duck blind, and within 45 seconds, I saw an imperfection on the water's surface just off the bow of the little boat which I almost immediately realized was an air pocket caught between the black liner & his black leather coat against the black water on this black night. It was barely breaking the surface, and as I pulled up beside this "imperfection" I saw the curls of his blonde hair under the water's surface. His feet were dragging on the bottom and he was completely submerged underwater. He was now approximately 500-600 feet away from the pier. I knelt down, grabbed him by his hair with my right hand, and lifted his head above the water's surface. His pale, white, cold head was now face to face with mine, his eyes shut, and his teeth clenched. He was completely unconscious.

Then, as if he was trying to breath, water started pumping out of his nose in a rhythmic fashion, which gave me hope that he could be revived. I lifted him higher with my right hand still clenching the hair on the top of his head, and started beating him in the chest with my left hand. Then I drug him into the boat where I laid him in the bow on his back, fully clothed, with 2 coats, gloves, shoes, pants, etc. still out cold. I laid my hand on his chest over his heart, and miraculously felt it beating. The water pumping out of his nose had transitioned to shallow breathing as the complete hopelessness of the situation began to subside. I drove the boat back around to the York River dock where he had been, hurriedly tied the boat up, and ran inside as fast as I could, called 911, and yelled to wake up my wife, Libby to come and help.

As I waited for the ambulance, he laid unconscious, eyes closed, teeth clenched, breathing shallow breaths in the bow of the Whaler as I begged God to bring him back, to let him live, to preserve his brain that been robbed of oxygen. It took me and 3 guys from the rescue squad to lift him out of the boat and onto the dock as they took him to the ambulance where they cut his clothes off and wrapped him in blankets. At that time his body temperature was probably less than 80 degrees. Thirty minutes later, wrapped with multiple blankets in the blast heated ambulance, he arrived at the emergency room where his body temperature had risen to 82 degrees. Libby and I waited directly outside of the trauma unit of the emergency room where 20 minutes later I heard a nurse ask, "What's your name? Who's the president?" They let me come into the room, where our eyes met and he said, "Hey Pops, what happened?" This was the beginning of his recovery. Today he has completely recovered and l am the most thankful man on earth.....

I did not earn this, prepare for this or deserve this .....For this series of events to have happened exactly in this order, in this precise time sequence was impossible. Why did I even go outside in the first place? Adam was 500-600 ft away from the dock & could have drifted in 270 degrees of different directions , and completely underwater & out of sight at 1:00 am on the darkest of dark nights.....I do not even know how to do CPR......If the tide would have been 2-3 inches lower, l would not have been able to get the little boat out.....10 boats with search light could not have found him....Within 5 minutes of finding him, the battery in the one flashlight that l had was dead...... He was probably completely underwater for at least 10-15 minutes.

This was an absolute Miracle !!!!!

May God grant you the Christmas miracle that you need.

Greg Garrett

Amidst a number of people praying for me around this incident, I found out after the incident that one friend of mine, the late Judge Barry Logsdon, felt led to pray for me while standing in the York River near our dock months before, and did not know why he was being led to pray for me or why God led him to be at the event there when it didn't make sense for him with his busy schedule. His widow, Kimberly Logsdon, remembers the incident well. Another friend of mine, Mrs. Mary Ellen Bogert, widow of the late Dr. Phil Bogert, was woken up around midnight the night of the incident, feeling an urgent need to pray for me. While normally she sleeps like a rock, this was one of less than five times in her life when she can remember that she has woken up and felt an urgent need to pray for someone. The only other time that she could think of was when she was woken up to pray for her son around the same time that her son got into a bad car accident. Dr. Jim Rudisill is a second person who reports that he was literally woken up and felt led to pray for me the night of me passing out under water on Nov 5, 2010, around the same time that it occurred, midnight. His wife verifies that he was woken up to pray for me that night. He couldn't go back to sleep, and kept praying for me for hours, almost all night. He eventually even left his boat and drove to a place where he may have been able to see my house, even sticking his feet in the cold water on that cold night (the air temperature was below 50). He had never been there just to pray before. In his prayers, he even says that he prayed, "breathe!" At 4 AM, he reports that he saw a sign for my dad's real estate company lying on the ground with my dad's number on it, and called him, saying that he was praying for me and believing that my life was in danger. He reports that my dad asked him how he could have known, for there is no way that Jim could have except through some paranormal and/or supernatural means. Jim then proceeded to the hospital and prayed for me some more at my dad's side. His wife Mary remembers the night as well. I did a documentary about his life for a documentary studies class at CNU which you can see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkk2QF_Zqo0&list=PLSo6O5wDaQd_x_GmG6DqU6BAWgOi96pVM I also found out afterwards that my hypothermia helped me to survive without brain damage after being unconscious under water for so long. For reference, the address of the property is 122 Sandbox Lane in Yorktown, VA 23692. Because people that don't know me may find this blog hard to believe, even the mere statement that I lived at the pictured property for years, feel free to pull the tax records for the property to confirm my father's ownership from 2004 until now here: https://maps.yorkcounty.gov/York/Account/Logon

Memories of Old: The Voice of the Lord – South African leading: 2008

In my experience, to hear the voice of God, it takes humility. We serve a God who knows everything, who we are relatively stupid before by comparison, no matter how lofty we perceive our finite knowledge and intelligence, yet His voice is an intangible reality too often in America, so we succumb to status quo bias. I’d encourage you to not be satisfied with this.

Some of what it takes includes highly counter-cultural dependence on God rather than self. Many would argue it includes counterculturally long time with God in prayer to listen during time alone and time throughout the day, & not muffling your ears as God calls you to sacrifice amidst time in the Word and prayer. When I met Will Graham a few months back with Brian Millard, he said that his granddaddy Billy told him that what he regretted the most was that he did not spend more time in prayer and more time in the Word. Keep in mind that he spent far more time in the Word and in prayer than most pastors. Please pray that I would not merely be yapping in my remembrance with this blog, but live in light of the reality of what the Lord has done time and time again in my life.

In most of my life, I have been unable to say whether something was merely my own desires or the Lord’s definitive will. Most of the time, I don’t know His voice. My level of intimacy isn’t strong enough, and too often my ears would rather be muffled to obedience, even if they might be open to knowledge that I want to know. The Lord would be doing me a disservice if He were to tell me anything in such a state. In the following account I share an example of God speaking to someone where there's statistical improbability involved for someone to say that it was just you. Today, as well as in much of my past, such as the first dozen mission trips I went on, I could have never said that any decision that I made was definitely directed by the voice of the Lord, and not just me and my own desires, notions of wisdom, instruction, etc.

For the email below, one may ask, "why don't we see more things like this in the church?" For me, that question can be answered with ease through the story of my own life, and I may have already told it to you. In the end, we don't depend on God enough. In “Forgotten God”, Francis Chan elaborates on the tragic neglect of the American church regarding the Holy Spirit. I’d highly recommend his book, as well as “Crazy Love”.

While I have never had the clarity of confirmation before that I did for the mission trip before this to India, in comparison to any directional questions in life that come to memory, I also never petitioned God for direction as I did soon before going to India. It was during the time in my life where I was praying more than any other time. My walk with Christ, giving Him legit time in prayer, continued after India, into the time before South Africa. Please pray that I would continually increase in dependence on Him, and that I'd see John 3:30 worked out more and more in my life.

This is the majority of an email that I sent to John Hayes, slightly revised; if it was not for God working partially through him, along with many other people and events that I believe God divinely orchestrated, I would not be going.

I believe that providence may surely be at work. God did quite a few things to place John Perkins out of Mississippi and into a meeting room in Chicago to meet with a class of mine on a field trip last Wednesday. While before you spoke to me, I had little idea about what one could do to effect racial reconciliation besides in befriending non-whites and making sure they were treated as equals in my arenas, Perkins' talk with our class greatly solidified and deepened the discussion you and I had. Your and Perkins talks individually, and especially together, separated by only a little more than a week, inspired me to racial reconciliation like I've never been before. These stories were the greatest stories of tangible racial reconciliation I believe I’ve ever heard.

A week ago, I was sitting in on a "Leadership and Evangelism" course, and the selection of this course under the professor that taught it as well as the date in which it occurred are key to my recent decision to go to South Africa. This course is the only one in the masters program that I'm taking this semester. The accelerated masters program for leadership and evangelism is the only program on campus that I'm aware of that regularly meets in a modular format (thus for less than a week but for long hours during those days). If it was not in this format, there's no chance that I would be in the accelerated program. I even dropped one of the two classes I was going to take in Leadership and Evangelism, which could have easily been this one since the one I dropped was a shorter class than this one, and right now I could use all the load-lessening I can get!

The very fact that I was able to sit in on the class rather than taking it as planned is notable because of the fact that for everyone who took the class for credit, this class was around 2,500$.

There were very few undergrads doing the accelerated masters program, and I was certainly the only undergrad who took that class. It's also somewhat strange that I was even accepted into the program, much less actually going through with it, since I had an incomplete last semester, the first I've ever received at Wheaton. For someone who was only taking slightly over the bare minimum of coursework to be considered a full time student, and getting an incomplete in just that, accelerated doesn't seem to look like a very good idea. I was so behind last semester that it took me a very long time over the summer to complete my assignments for my incomplete (but the long time that it took is essential as apart of another long trail of providence I won't even get into!). Going into this year, starting the Orphan Helpers Club here for the first time on campus, and playing club lacrosse again, I shouldn't be taking an extra class. In fact, going into the evangelism class I was (and still am) very behind.

My teacher … just happens to know a man whose mentor is John Perkins, Wayne Gordon. Perkins “just happened” to be coming to town from Mississippi to meet with his mentor as part of an annual meeting for Gordon's medical ministry through his church. Gordon was adamant about making it clear that he didn't agree to meeting with the Wheaton Class because it was a Wheaton class; he came for my professor who he had been in Bible study with for years. He even talked about how he kept saying no to Willow Creek about preaching at one of their Wednesday night services because of lack of time until finally caving in.

What Perkins said moved me deeply. One of the things he talked about was how he himself had been tortured by white police officers, including them sticking forks up his nose, and that his brother had died in his arms after being shot by a white sheriff. He told us about how he set up a tent in his yard at one time in his life to preach due to very high rates of crime at that time in his area. He also told us how, even though he was openly kind towards a sheriff who kept coming to his preaching, it was a mere formality of his in order to keep up appearances as he was preaching. In fact, he told us how he still harbored intense hatred towards white policemen amidst all this. Yet this sheriff demonstrated that he cared for John. He was the first to come as Perkins set up his tent, and the last to leave. He even had his deputies help Perkins take down the tent on nights. He out-loved Perkins, and this deep demonstration of love won Perkins over to being able to love the sheriff back. This gave me a picture of how deeply people's very 'natural' inclinations towards whites in South African townships must be filled with such deep wounds, even among the strong evangelical Christian communities there. This greatly reinforced what you told me about how I could do something about the situation in terms of reconciliation as well, for people's hearts can change tremendously by demonstrating love towards them. What impacted me the most from our discussion was when you talked about how you were preaching one day to black men and you felt the Lord leading you and told them that you were sorry. Even though it was for mere indifference, and for the race and people that you couldn't control, you said you were sorry, and it meant so much to those people who knew that you meant every word of it because you had been with them and demonstrated your love and care for them. As you told me about how some of them broke down in tears, I myself was fighting the tears back (and did a pretty good job, unless you saw a little water in my eye briefly!).

While very clear further providence (although that's another story!) has made it highly apparent that God wants me to look at work with South-East Asian sex slavery in the future, the functional urgency involved in the mission to South Africa is not present in Thailand or Cambodia. You are planning on going for the first time this summer, and I know that first impressions on something that no one's ever done before are a big deal. The ministries in Thailand with Remember Nhu and International Justice Mission have already been established, so I can go next summer, or the summer after if God calls me elsewhere.

I learned tonight that my own father has been a part of racial reconciliation since the third grade, when his dad wouldn't let him have a black friend from school over to his house. I have known that my father has been a good friend to African Americans for some time, being a white president of his public high school after receiving 80% of the vote facing a black candidate in a 60% black public high school.

I'm very glad that you took the time to engage me when I simply said hi that day in the lower level of the Beamer Center! When I said hi, it took me a second to register that I had just said hi to the chapel speaker because my vision's not great and I sit in the nose-bleed section of chapel. I don't remember almost anything about your ministry from the chapel service, which I think I mostly slept through, and there's very little chance I'd have even considered meeting with you otherwise. Thank you

I wanted to send this to you a week ago, although it would have been without a final decision then, because I knew I would need to get into further prayer before making such a momentous determination. I wanted to get back to you within a week, so I've been focusing prayer on this matter since that Wednesday night. After a little one day fast on the last day of the week of prayer, God put the cherry on top when I found out that I wouldn't have to ask you if you knew who John Perkins was, because at a quick glance at your book while doing a little cleaning up (I still haven't really cracked it open!) I found that it was he who wrote your foreword! Isn't it awesome to work with a providential God who isn't restrained by the barriers of time?!

Thank you,

Adam Garrett

In South Africa, God confirmed my long term calling to minister to those involved in sex trafficking when the only published film that we saw as a team was “Not for Sale.” I had no voice in this decision. I had wanted to see this movie for about a year, as I began to feel a call to minister to those involved in sex trafficking. At the time, and maybe still today, “Not for Sale” was the most well-known documentary in existence about human trafficking worldwide.

Our next door neighbors in their one room, one bed metal shack