How my accidents point to God’s glory – by Jon Leedahl

This isn’t the first time in my life to be affected by a terrible accident. I accepted Christ as my Savior at the young age of four, but my flesh warred within me and I struggled to obey my parents.

JonTraction1992I had an accident on a three-wheeler in 1992 at the age of eleven. I grew up on a farm. I was given permission to drive the three-wheeler ATV as long as I didn’t use the fourth gear. When out of sight of anyone, I would secretly drive in fourth gear.

One Sunday afternoon my parents were taking a nap and I used the excuse of taking out the trash to the dump in our pasture to drive the three-wheeler. Once I’d dropped off the trash and was out of sight of everyone, I opened the throttle in fourth gear on the dirt pasture road. It was spring and there was some ice covered with a bit of hay on the road. I hit that chunk of ice and it sent the three-wheeler tumbling.

When I opened my eyes, I was laying on my back. The three-wheeler was laying on its side quite some distance from me. My helmet visor had ripped off and was between me and the three-wheeler. I sat up and looked at my leg. It was shorter that it was supposed to be. My knee was about half way up my thigh. Then the pain hit!

I had a compound fracture of my femur and I was bleeding. My sister just happened to be out in the pasture and heard the accident. She ran and got my Mom, who is a nurse. She put traction on my leg and pressure on the bleeding wound. Without her help I most likely would have bleed to death. I said to my Mom, “You were right! God’s spankings are much worse than yours!”

I knew I was in the wrong and I accepted the consequences for my actions. I spent a month in the hospital in traction then another month in a wheelchair in a partial body cast. After the wheelchair, I was spent a month on crutches and another month not being able to run. This spoiled my whole summer and gave me lots of time to think. God allowed me to have the accident, but he spared my life. He must have something special planned for me. I needed to be obedient to God.

JonPiperCherokee1997I began taking flying lessons at the age of fifteen and found I had a natural ability. At the age of sixteen, I rededicated my life to the Lord. I knew of the need for missionary pilots and asked the Lord that if it was His will for me to do this, that He would open the doors for me. And open the doors He did! He brought a former missionary pilot into my life to mentor me and provided the opportunities for my training and experience. I knew this was the Lord’s will for my life!

On October 15, 2014, my life was impacted with another terrible accident. This time I was in the center of God’s will. I had become a missionary pilot. We’d been in PNG for seven months training with SIL (JAARS) on the new Kodiak airplane and I was almost done with this training. In just a couple of months, I would be ready to fly NTM’s new Kodiaks. On the day of my accident, I had just completed and passed a check ride on the Kodiak.

JonPiperCherokee1999I was driving my motorcycle home from the airstrip. It’s just a few kilometers from the airstrip to the mission center. While coming around a blind curve, there was a Land Cruiser coming straight at me on my side of the road. I don’t remember the accident. I don’t even remember leaving the hangar on my motorcycle. The best we can tell I slammed on the brakes and laid the bike on its side.

I hit the Land Cruiser head on. My right leg was crushed between the bike and the bumper of the land cruiser. I compound-fractured  both bones in my right leg below the knee. I started bleeding badly. Some Papua New Guineans stopped and put me in the back of a bus and took me to the mission medical clinic.

I wasn’t able to be med-evacuated to Australia until the next morning since there is no night flying at the airstrip due to the mountainous terrain. I lost a lot of blood. I was dying. My condition was classified as very grave. My blood looked like pink water.

I should have died.

The clinic that is not set up to do blood transfusions miraculously had three blood bags and a list of universal blood donors living on the center. They completed the blood transfusion and even though my blood level was so low that I shouldn’t have pulled through, I did! Even the doctors didn’t think I was going to make it. They put a tourniquet on my right leg to control the bleeding.

Jon L in hospital - 01By the time I got to the hospital in Cairns, Australia the next day, the tourniquet had been on for 17 hours. They tried to save my leg, but the damage from the tourniquet (that saved my life) was too great and they had to amputate my right leg above the knee. My left leg also needed major knee and foot surgery.

Why did God allow this accident to happen? I was following in His will. I was almost done with my training. New Tribes Mission Aviation needed me to fly these new airplanes and train in the other pilots. The “why” I can’t answer. The true reason may not be revealed for some time.

But, this I know: We are to glorify and bring praise to God in any circumstance. So, that is what I am doing. Giving God the Glory. He spared my life once again in this accident. He is not finished with me yet. He still has plans for me. Maybe someone will come to know the Lord through my testimony. Maybe being an amputee will give me some opportunity to minister. God knows. And I can rest in that knowledge.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29‬:‭11‬ NKJV)

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21 thoughts on “How my accidents point to God’s glory – by Jon Leedahl

  1. mboze

    God bless you Jon. Your outlook is an encouragement to many.

  2. Sheryl Edwards

    Thank you, Jon! Bless you and your precious family. Praying still. In Christ, Sheryl Edwards

  3. bill biby

    I would like permission to print your testimony in the homeschool newsletter for the North Dakota Home School Association. I will print as written with only correction of punctuation and grammatical errors, if any. Your story has moved me and reminded me of God’s goodness and mercy even in times of great challenge and change. Our newsletter is sent to approx. 900 homeschooling families in N.D.

    Awaiting your reply.

    May God alone be praised for the wonder included in your message of grace.

    Gail M. Biby, publications editor, NDHSA

    Sent from Windows Mail

    • Jon Leedahl

      Yes! I would be honored to have you share my testimony in your homeschool newsletter.

  4. lindyloo47@aol.com

    This is an amazing testimony! Yes you are still in Gods will and He will use you in amazing ways! Thanks for sharing !

    Sent from my iPad

  5. Powerful testimony. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Anonymous

    Oh, Jon How I wept to read your words and HOW I love you – always have – you know that!!
    You and your family ( and all of us who love you) are in our prayers dally) God is near!!
    Love
    Aunt Louise

  7. Kathy Westley

    Dear Jon & Adie – I have been praying for you since shortly after accident – a friend in Australia sent me your names and I am privileged to pray for you – your faith in our faithful Lord encourages me and blesses many. A verse I am memorizing is Ps. 84:11 – For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Even now God is using you across the world – I continue to pray for you and Praise Him who is worthy. I just sent this to 3 men (one my former husband) – all pilots in Colorado and Alaska. Single engine small planes. Keep trusting Him. Sincerely, Kathy Westley – Glenwood Springs, CO

  8. Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays

    May the Lord continue to get the glory as you walk His path! You are a true testimony to His loving faithfulness. We are proud of you and your sweet wife and the trust you are teaching others in the midst of your own struggles.

  9. God bless you, dear brother.

  10. Thanks, Jon, for sharing your testimony and your faith in God’s omnipotent hand. We in Gulf, PNG have been praying for you all since day one. My son, Matt, flies our mission plane, P2-TMK (an old SIL 206).

    It comforts me in my small trials to read of your confidence in God in your present trial, both for you and for your dear family. May God continue to fill you with Himself and His Spirit, and as He does, my you keep dwelling in His hope.

    Blessings in Jesus,

    John Allen johnallen.ttmk.org Sent from my iPhone

    >

  11. Allison Tubbesing

    Hi, dear Leedahls,
    thank you for sharing honestly and humbly how God reaches into our confusion and brings courage – if not clarity, at the moment. Thanks, too, for this confession:

    “God knows. And I can rest in that knowledge.”

    May we truly rest in His knowing, both of us and our situations. He is with us.

    <>

    (Psalm 10:17)

    ~~~He is With You (lyrics)~~~
    Mandisa. (Video at http://youtu.be/wQ2evFDjIZs)

    “He Is With You”

    There’s a time to live
    And a time to die
    There’s a time to laugh
    And a time to cry
    There’s a time for war
    And a time for peace
    There’s a hand to hold
    In the worst of these

    He is with you when your faith is dead
    And you can’t even get out of bed
    Or your husband doesn’t kiss you anymore
    He is with you when your baby’s gone
    And your house is still, and your heart’s a stone
    Cryin’ God, what’d You do that for
    He is with you

    There’s a time for yes
    And a time for no
    There’s a time to be angry
    And a time to let it go
    There is a time to run
    And a time to face it
    There is love to see you
    Through all of this

    He is with you in the conference room
    When the world is coming down on you
    And your wife and kids don’t know you anymore
    He is with you in the ICU
    When the doctors don’t know what to do
    And it scares you to the core
    He is with you

    We may weep for a time
    But joy will come in the morning
    The morning light

    He is with you when your kids are grown
    When there’s too much space and you feel alone
    And you’re worried if you got it right or wrong
    Yes He is with you when you’ve given up
    On ever finding your true love
    Someone who feels like home
    He is with you

    When nothing else is left
    And you take your final breath
    He is with you ~

  12. Christy Myers

    Hi. I have been praying for you and following your story since the accident. Thank you for sharing your testimony. What an incredible life story God has written for you! What an amazing perspective you have!

    I also suffere tragedy as a child. I fell under a riding lawnmower at the age of 2 1/2 years. By doctors account, I should have lost my right Le g. Upon passing that hurdle, I should have not walked. As of this day,at 44 years of age, married mother of two, and very happily serving our Lord, I walk without so much as a limp. Sometimes, I get depressed about the awful scars, but then I am reminded that God saved my life, to be used for his purpose and glory.A few scars are nothing when I could’ve lost my life.

    Every time I read your update, I am humbled and find myself being selfish. Thank you for the perspective that you are giving me. My prayers are with you daily. May God receive all glory and honor. Amen

  13. Anonymous

    Jon, you and Adie are such a strong witness for the sustaining power, love and glory of our Heavenly Father and his son and our Saviour, Jesus. It has been such a blessing reading and watching your incredible faith and trust in Him!!! You WILL impact many, many people who don’t know of His love yet. I’ve been sitting with a friend who has ALS/Motor Neuron disease for months now, and just yesterday felt the need for us to simply spend time in praise and worship of God even when everything seems so incredibly hopeless. Your testimony is timely for me, thank you for sharing. Love, Barb

  14. Tracey Harris

    Thank you for sharing your testimony Jon. I too have been following your story since the accident and have been praying for God’s will to be done in yours and your dear family’s lives.

    Phil and I served at Hoskins in PNG from 1988 – 2002, in support roles (Mechanic and School Teacher). We lost two very dear friends, 3 months apart during our second term on the field. Bob Yates was our Finance officer and Dave Wilson our pilot. Both men left sudden vital gaps in the team work, and both were not ‘easy’ to replace. Each passing so rocked our team their at Hoskins, with many of us questioning ‘why’? I am sooo encouraged by your faith in our all soverign God. His plans are always much higher than our own. He sees the big picture always, one that we don’t know or see at the time. Our faith in Him through all circumstances is what pleases Him. The passing of our friends drew our Hoskins team closer, and it drew each of us closer to the Lord. We never always see the results of what God accomplishes through the passing of team members serving Him, or from scenarios like yours when God uses horrific situations to accomplish something else.

    I truly believe God is using you, your life and your testimony to draw others to Himself. God is pleased with your faith in Him Jon. Keep on keeping on.

    One of my favourite (sorry for the Aussie spelling) hymns is “It is well with my soul.” I love the stories behind the penning of the old hymns. Such tragedy is changed to wonder, hope and promise when one acknowledges the all omnipotent, loving God.

    “It Is Well With My Soul” Horatio G. Spafford

    When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.

    Refrain:
    It is well with my soul,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.

    Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

    My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

    For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

    But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

    And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.

  15. Alastair D. Sutherland

    Jon & Adie, Enoch “walked with God” [Gen 5:24], and “he had this testimony that he pleased God”[Heb 11:5. God’s dealing in your situation has been enriching and refreshing and your attitude has been pleasing to God.

  16. Donna Burns

    Jon and Adie,
    I pray for you often since I received word of your accident from some Missionary friends in PNG. So glad to be able to keep up with your progress through your blog. I love your strength and faith as you and your family are on this journey and that is what I often pray for for you. You are an inspiration and obviously God is not finished with you. So thankful He has His plans for you yet.
    Stay strong and keep the faith…(The only way to fly!)
    ((HUGS)) all around!

  17. Anonymous

    Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Jacki Bradley

    Thank you for sharing! Continuing to remember you and your family.

    Jacki Bradley

  19. anonymous

    Our 12 year old read your testimony. The ripple effect will continue… Thank you for inviting us into your journey. We continue to pray for you all.

  20. Wayne Kuypers

    Jon – So encouraging to hear your trust in God’s faithful yet mysterious providential ways in our lives. We count it great privilege to uphold you and your family in prayer to keep trusting in the loving kindness of our faithful God. Blessings

    God Moves in A Mysterious Way – William Cowper

    God moves in a mysterious way
    His wonders to perform;
    He plants His footsteps in the sea
    And rides upon the storm.

    Deep in unfathomable mines
    Of never failing skill
    He treasures up His bright designs
    And works His sovereign will.

    Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
    The clouds ye so much dread
    Are big with mercy and shall break
    In blessings on your head.

    Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
    But trust Him for His grace;
    Behind a frowning providence
    He hides a smiling face.

    His purposes will ripen fast,
    Unfolding every hour;
    The bud may have a bitter taste,
    But sweet will be the flower.

    Blind unbelief is sure to err
    And scan His work in vain;
    God is His own interpreter,
    And He will make it plain.

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