Hunting accident turns life around for Baptist layman

CHARLESTON, Tenn. (BP)--Though he was "raised in church" and his grandfather was a Baptist preacher for 50 years, Mike Crittenden readily admits he had "wandered as far from church" as he could go.

It took a fall from a deer stand to bring him back to reality.

On Nov. 29, 1996, Crittenden and his brother, David, were hunting on the family farm when he fell, breaking his neck and leaving him paralyzed from his shoulders down to his feet. He could have died from the fall which left him face down. He was smothering because he could not move and turn over. David Crittenden was able to get to his brother quickly, turn him over and then get help.

Prior to the fall, Crittenden admitted he was "living only for myself. I was the devil's right-hand man."

He noted the night he fell he looked to the devil for help. "The devil had always told me if I ever got into trouble he'd be right there for me. But instead of being there for me, the devil was long gone.

"He left me there by myself. However, the one that I had turned my back on and mistreated was the first one there to pick me up and to take care of me. God has never left me since," Crittenden said.

Crittenden, who accepted Christ at age 12, recalled "two seconds after I hit the ground God told me he was tired of fooling with me. This was my last chance.

"I figured I had better turn my life around."

And he has.

Crittenden has been transformed from a person who would rarely speak in a group to one who will readily and eagerly share his testimony before a church.

"He has been using me regularly to give testimony to lift his name up and to glorify him.

"Ironically, he has allowed me to have the best year of my life since the accident, although I am in a wheelchair.

"I'm happier now than I have ever been. He's been wonderful in every way possible. The accident has probably been the best thing that ever happened to me other than his saving my soul from hell," Crittenden said.

Crittenden's attitude and change has been an inspiration to the congregation of First Baptist Church, Charleston, Tenn., where he is a member, said pastor Mark Perko, noting, "Mike has been a blessing to everybody."

Since the accident, church members have added a wheelchair ramp to enable Crittenden to attend more easily. They also constructed a deck on the back of his house, complete with a ramp.

The church has provided financial help to Crittenden and his wife, Carolyn, who had to quit work to stay home with her husband following the accident. "We've been blessed so much," she said.

Crittenden's recovery has been slow. The first prognosis was he would have little, if any, use of his arms or legs. He can now move both arms and he has some feeling in his legs.

Crittenden's ultimate goal is to walk again, saying, "Nothing is impossible with God."

Even if that does not happen, Crittenden said he will not be angry or upset with God. "He made me the promise he'd let me walk. Whether it's here or in heaven I don't know. Spiritually, I am walking with God now."

Crittenden spends most of his days immersed in the Bible and reading books about God's Word. He doesn't know if God is preparing him for full-time ministry in the future. "I take it one day at a time. Whatever he asks of me, I will try to do it."

In the meantime, he is content to share what God has done for him through personal testimony.

When describing the change in his life, Crittenden makes it clear he does "not want people to look at me and feel sorry for me. If people see anything when they look at me, I hope they'll see the change the Lord has made in my life. I hope that if there's anything that they can see, it is the Lord and not me.

"If I could help just one person to the Lord or change their life, it would be worth every bit of what has happened to me."

Download Story