Minister Saves Boy’s Life By Darting into Traffic
By Kelli Donley
It was a Sunday morning in June 2006. Ron Barnard had just finished preaching in Rose bud, Arkansas. His sermon provided unwelcome foreshadowing for the day ahead. “I spoke how Jesus has conquered death for us,” he says.
I actually said, ‘Pardon me for being someone who still believes in eternity. This could be my day, June 11, 2006, and if it is, I’ll be ok with that!’
Minutes later when leaving the church, Barnard noticed a cousin’s four-year-old son racing across the parking lot. They called for Caleb to stop, but the child kept moving – unaware of the traffic headed his direction.
“I yelled at him to wait, and he did stop momentarily to let two cars pass from right
to left,” Barnard describes. “But he failed to see a full- size truck pulling a camper that was approaching in the near lane coming from left to right. We almost reached him, just as he ran directly in front of the truck. I don’t remember deciding to run into the road after him. By a miracle of grace I never stopped running.”
Barnard saved the child by pulling him to safety and taking the force of the impact.
I remember thinking we would both die, but I knew I couldn’t watch this little boy be hit! I scooped him up just before the moment of impact. It all happened in an absolute flash; still I managed to throw him out of the way a millisecond before being hit myself. It was so close that a tuft of Caleb’s hair was caught in the driver’s side mirror on the Ford F-150. yet, by Gods grace, other than a scuff on the side of his face, Caleb was fine.
Barnard wasn’t as lucky. The driver, traveling 40 miles per hour, send the minister 40 feet into the air on impact, before he landed in a ditch.“The driver, who I’ve been blessed to meet and become friends with, had no chance and was in no way at fault. It was in fact miraculous I landed in the ditch and not on the highway. If I had landed on the highway it is likely I would have suffered greater injury, and may have even been run over by the truck that hit me.”
The driver, Tony Merritt, came to the hospital the next week to visit Barnard. He confessed prior to the accident he was an atheist, but the accident had left him changed. He told Barnard he didn’t have a chance to hit the brakes until after the impact.
“Yet when the truck came to a stop, and he found the fortitude to open his eyes, he saw Caleb standing in the driveway across from the point of impact,” Barnard says. “Apparently he had done a combat roll and had landed on his feet across the highway. It was a miracle Caleb was alive.”
After seeing the child standing on his own two feet, the driver began looking for Barnard. The driver and barnard’s wife Karen found the minister in the ditch, where they began calling for help.
“I was laying on my stomach with my face shoved into the dirt, my left leg broken in a grotesque way, and blood coming from the concussion on the back of my head starting to run down over my face,” Barnard says. “I looked dead, and they were unable to find a pulse. However, within a couple of minutes I regained consciousness. The doctors would later say my regaining consciousness after that level of trauma was very abnormal.”
In shock, barnard began making jokes and trying to comfort those around him who were in duress.
“I had great peace and at one point made the comment, ‘I’m going be ok, but I think my leg is broken since I can almost see the bottom of my shoe without moving my face.’ The truth is I’ve never felt God’s presence as I did that day in the ditch.”
Barnard jokes that, “If you’re ever going get hit by a truck, you should try to do it right after church, and preferably directly in front of the church. Also, if you could arrange to be the guest speaker that morning and speak about how Jesus has dominion over death that would also be great!” Congregants surrounded the scene and began to pray for God’s mercy. The driver was stunned. For the first time, he reported feeling the presence of God.
I suffered a concussion, a severely broken left femur, a contused left lung, significant trauma to my neck and spine, a fractured right wrist, a sprained right ankle, strained pulled and torn muscles in my back and leg, and damage to my sciatic nerve,
says barnard. “Though the injuries were significant, the grace of God was obvious. There was one major answer to all the prayers that were immediately prayed. The most immediate danger was the lung contusion that was causing internal bleeding. but before the helicopter could get me, to the hospital I had already stopped bleeding.”
“Initially it was all about dealing with the shattered femur,” he says of his now years-long healing from the accident. “A 14-inch titanium rod was inserted through the broken bone. A year of therapy later, I was out of a wheel chair. The pain was intense and treated primarily with strong medications that came with their own list of challenges, making a good night of sleep a rare and precious commodity. Coming off of the medications was as much a part of the journey as dealing with the pain itself.
“However, by late 2008 I was experiencing significant pain in my neck and back causing headaches that seemed to wrap around from the base of the skull over the top of my head to my eyes. I saw several doctors in my area, including an orthopedic surgeon and a neurologist. one actually told me, “you got hit by a truck, don’t be naive, you’re going to hurt like this the rest of your life.”
In 2009, Barnard reached out to Arizona Pain Specialist founder Dr. Tory McJunkin. Barnard and his wife were friends of the McJunkins – who had supported the minister’s mission in southern Africa.
“He encouraged me to believe I could find relief and suggested that I fly out from our home in Virginia to Scottsdale. Honestly, from the moment I walked into the clinic I felt encouraged,” says barnard. After an initial exam and a series of MRIs, it was determined the facet joints in barnard’s neck were deteriorating causing chronic pain. He underwent steroid injections, radiofrequency ablation treatment and chiropractic therapy.
“By January 2010, I was no longer having headaches,” say Barnard. “Thank God, and thank God for using the team at APS. Getting rid of the headaches was a breakthrough I don’t have words to describe. The pain in my neck and back also improved exponentially and although I wasn’t pain free, I was able to be completely off prescription medications! I was able to resume
a full teaching and preaching schedule, as well as travel to South Africa and Zambia for mission work.”
While Barnard’s healing is on-going, Dr. McJunkin and the team at APS were able to
provide the hero with much needed pain relief. Barnard, a man of not just courage but also humility, is more comfortable speaking of the driver’s journey to Christ through the accident, and those whose spirits were strengthened by his continued recovery.
“Paul wrote in I Corinthians 10:13: ‘no test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.’ The truth is God has in no way abandoned you or me. He is faithful and faithfully for us. The help I’ve received at APS is no small thing to my family or me. It’s an answer to prayer and a testimony to the faith- fulness of God!”
Barnard and his wife Karen founded a Christian mission called the Southern Africa Mission network, or SAM. next month, Arizona Pain Monthly will feature the organization and let readers know how they can get involved.
For more information now,visit: www.thesamnetwork.com