CALHOUN – Following all the safety standards will not count when the rope breaks. That failing rope caused disastrous results for David Van Bebber, Jr., bivocational pastor of Calhoun Baptist Church, after he fell from scaffolding hanging at the fourth story window – A fall that made his August return to the pulpit, a miracle.
“My dad is a bivocational pastor too,” Van Bebber said, “and I was helping with his window cleaning company over Memorial Day. I was there to help with setting the ropes for the chair work and to explain some of the safety devices to other workers.”
Van Bebber’s experience and training as a rock climber with rappelling and his certification by the Association of Challenge Course Technology made his fall seem ironic, but it probably saved his life.
“I fell more than 50 feet,” he said, “but, I landed on my feet and that saved my life. If I had panicked and reached out I would have been killed. But, I remembered when I worked a zip-line. We had a huge fan that let us free-fall the last 30 feet. I remembered the sensation of those falls.”
When that rope snapped, God gave me a sense of peace and clarity. My only thought was that I needed to land on my feet.
When the rope broke, Van Bebber felt the presence of God. “When that rope snapped,” he said, “God gave me a sense of peace and clarity. My only thought was that I needed to land on my feet.”
The summer was a journey of medical procedures for Van Bebber. He began in ICU for ten days. Then, he had several surgeries on his back as well as both of his crushed heels. However, he had a few medical surprises for the doctors.
“After one of my back surgeries,” he said, “the spinal surgeon flew to Washington state to confer with another specialist because of me. The doctor told me, ‘No one could break their back as severely as you did and not be paralyzed.’”
Van Bebber gives all the credit to answered prayer. “The prayers of my family and of my church are having a wonderful impact on my healing,” he said. “I’m ahead of schedule on my healing and I’m making progress. I don’t have a cognitive memory of all that happened to me during the first weeks of my hospitalization, but I was aware that people were praying. God gave me a wonderful sense that everything was going to be ok.”
Van Bebber is still putting in three days a week into rehab. “I work very hard,” he said, “when I am in therapy. People think I am healing fast, but it doesn’t seem fast to me. When I leave therapy, I’m sweating.”
Van Bebber is still in a wheelchair when he is alone. But, when he has supervision, he can use crutches. “I still have a lot of pain, but I wanted to get back to my church as soon as I could.”
In addition to preaching, Van Bebber teaches communications classes for Missouri State University. “They were great about adjusting my schedule,” he said. “Now, I’m teaching my classes online.”
The congregation is happy to have him preaching again. “We’ve had very good attendance since I’ve been back,” he said.
“I’m so grateful to God that he has given me the opportunity to get back and preach,” Van Bebber said. “Despite the pain and hardship, I’m compelled to do what God has called me to do. I have the love and joy to focus on what He wants me to do rather than any pain. It was not a question of if I would come back, but when.” n
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