Off The Fence--by Warren Ritchie Christianson
I was born in 1948.  My mother went to church but did not really have a connection with Jesus, if you catch my drift.  My father was an atheist, a Cal Tech engineering graduate who worked on the MoonCrawler, heat-seeking missiles.  He was a very honest man and a great father.  My maternal grandparents were totally committed to Christ.  My grandfather was one of the first doctors to graduate from the College of Medical Evangelists.  He and my grandmother started a clinic and school in Montemorelos, Mexico (near Monterrey).  Today that school and clinic is Montemorelos University, which has a modern medical center and an accredited medical school to train Christian doctors.  My grandfather literally gave his life working for the Yacqui Indians in central Mexico.  After he died, my grandmother owned some apartments which she rented out for income.  To save money, she did her own maintenance (painting, plumbing, electrical, etc.), and scrimped so she could send me, my brother, and my sister to a parochial school.

As a child, I really wanted to be popular.  Although in my heart I knew following Jesus was the right thing to do, I noticed the kids I felt were the popular ones used bad language, listened to rock music, and ignored Christian values.  I was torn inside by those two pulls.  On one side, Jesus was pulling me towards Himself, and on the other side Satan was pulling me towards himself with the prize of popularity.  I was riding the fence and I was miserable.  Revelation 3:17 says that the lukewarm are miserable, and I certainly fell into that category.

The summer before entering ninth grade, I made a decision to get off the fence and follow Jesus all the way and forget trying to be popular.  I assumed that when I went back to school I would have no friends and be at the bottom of the social pecking order.  I was wrong.  God blessed me.  I became a student body officer, had my own little band, and probably had as many friends as anyone else at school.

I decided to become a minister and took theology at La Sierra College.  I went to seminary at Andrews University and pastored two churches in the Baltimore, Maryland area.  Then I came back to California to graduate school to get a Masters Degree in Public Health, so I could teach classes in how to live healthfully and get off drugs and alcohol.  It was my goal to use the medical platform to reach people for Christ that might not otherwise listen to the Gospel.

Just after completing my MPH degree requirements, I went a couple blocks from my house on my motorcycle, and a legally blind man pulled left in front of me.  I impacted with his pickup, shattering my left ankle to fragments.  Then I flipped over the hood of the pickup and my head impacted the cement curb so hard that the curb was broken.  I was in a decorticate position with a large subdural hematoma.  I had a flat EEG (no brain waves), and could not breath.  An ambulance came, and the EMT bagged me on the way in to a large university medical center.  I was placed on a ventilator which breathed for me for three weeks.

I steadily got worse instead of better.  My neurosurgeon, Dr. Lloyd Dayes, a black man from Jamaica, was a Christian first and a neurosurgeon second.  Rather than give up on me, he had an annointing service like James 5:14,15 talks about.  The next day I opened my eyes and, before long, I was talking.  They were supposed to amputate my left leg below the knee if I did survive, because the tibia and fibula were shattered for three inches, but when God healed me, both bones came back together.  A couple of years ago I climbed Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States on that leg which was scheduled for amputation. God is good!

I did have cranial nerve damage from the accident which prevented me from public speaking.  So the California State Rehabilitation officer at the hospital asked me what I wanted to retrain for to earn a living.  I loved construction, so they sent me to school and I became a general contractor.  Although I am still a contractor, I also went back to school and became a registered nurse.  I moved to Columbia (population 400) near Yosemite National Park in the High Sierra foothills.  I am able to use nursing as a means of leading people to Christ, since sick people almost always feel a need and recognize that they are not immortal.

I have been a Christian for about 35 years.  I am still learning new stuff from the Bible every day. 

Copyright © 1998 Warren Ritchie Christianson.  All rights reserved. Used with permission.