Withering in pain, Gene lay in a cold, silent hospital bed, dying of liver disease. The window he had been lifelessly staring out began to vibrate from the powerful, rhythmic whips of helicopter blades. Life Flight was making a landing on the hospital roof, carrying the body of a 19 year-old boy named Brandon who had just died in a tragic car accident. Gene’s eyes raised, along with the sound of his wife’s voice, “Maybe this is your chance, Gene?” Moments later, Gene was rushed into surgery for a liver transplant.
Recovery was painful and exhausting, but Gene pushed through. And thanks to a young organ donor, a middle-aged man had a new chance at life. His heart full of gratitude, Gene reached out to the boy’s parents. He just wanted to thank them and perhaps encourage them during their time of great loss. He made a call to Brandon’s parents, and they were so encouraged they decided they wanted to meet Gene, in person.
On the day of the meeting everyone’s nerves were on edge. What would the mom and dad say to the man, whose body now held their son’s liver? This isn’t something parents do every day. What would Gene say to them, whose son’s death gave him life? The doors of the meeting room opened. Parents and patient locked eyes, and every question they had melted away in the warmth of sheer joy. Hugs and tears transformed interrogatives into exclamations. Oh, the joy of discovering a bubbling river-of-life-dancing along the Valley Of The Shadow Of Death!
Their meeting place was in an arena where Winter Jam was being held. The parents thought this would be a great place to connect. A year earlier, the other victims in the accident with Brandon—Ashlee and Alex—had just attended the concert. Later that night, they picked up Brandon, but before they made it back to their driveways, they were walking on streets of gold. While the parents were meeting backstage with Gene, I was preparing to walk on stage to share the Gospel. I had no idea they were connecting. Brandon’s father, Ron, invited Gene in to hear the message I was sharing. Something extraordinary was about to take place.
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