Senator Atkinson shares gun shot experience

Below is a transcript from Georgene Rice KPDQ-FM radio interview with Oregon State Senator Jason Atkinson about a gunshot accident that nearly took his life. The story of his recovery is inspiring.

Georgene: Tell us what happened on that day in July of 2008.

Atkinson: I was working on a bike and accidentally dropped a bag I was removing from under the seat. It usually carries tubes and tools for the bike. I heard a popping noise and found myself on the ground bleeding to death. My wife quickly put her finger in the bullet hole and used a bike tube as a tourniquet.

Psalms 23 says, “He makes me lie down”. I used to think that was optional. But it’s really not. In a split second our lives changed. I went from being the hard charging person to being made to lie down.The next several hours we didn’t know if I was going to live. In the weeks after, we didn’t know if I’d be able to keep my leg or my foot. Now it’s a matter of whether I’ll be able to stand or walk.

Georgene: You are a man of faith. For some, the expectation is that if we are following Christ these kinds of things aren’t going to happen. What were your initial thoughts?

Atkinson: When you give your life to Christ it doesn’t mean everything is going to be rosy. My wife has beaten cancer and as a micro preemie my son is not supposed to be alive. When I started in politics I understood business, the environment, and higher education and I wanted people to be inspired to be in public service. I never thought I would be interested in pre-natal care, but with my son born at 24 weeks old I now understand those issues. When you’re a 6’4 guy and find yourself in a wheelchair having to ask for help, it changes your life in ways you never considered. God never says it’s going to be easy. It’s all a matter of how you respond and react to bad times. I think some of the people who have touched my life could have only been touched by my going through these things.

Georgene: What do you make of this near death experience in light of your faith and your walk with the Lord?

Atkinson: It has been an incredible change in life but also a time of absolute peace. As I told my wife, I was not meant to die in that garage. But, there are lessons that you learn by going through those experiences. You realize there is a greater expectation at least on myself, and I believe divinely put, to perform for the people who go through this on a daily basis. Just like the alcoholic who goes on to help others. What the Lord saves you from, he uses you for.

Georgene: I’d like you to tell us about the message that was left on your phone by a man that helped you with your recovery.

Atkinson: When I returned home my wife began playing all the phone messages that had been left. One message simply said, “Senator Atkinson you don’t know me but I do know you. I and a lot of other people have been praying for you and you will get out of that wheelchair.” Then he hung up. You know, it wasn’t just what he said, but how he said it. You could tell it was something really remarkable.

The next day I was to begin my painful physical therapy. As I started to get into my wheel chair I asked my wife to turn on the message so I could hear it. Every day since, when I’ve gotten ready to go for physical therapy, I’ve played that message.

After some weeks went by I was being moved to a new physical therapy location. When I went to the front desk and told the volunteer who I was I could see his eyes start to moisten up. He said, “Senator I left you a voice mail. I just wanted you to know that I and a lot of other people have been praying for you and you will get out of that wheelchair.” I just melted. The man who had left me the message was a volunteer in the hospital.

I asked if he could come from behind the desk so I could meet him. What happened next changed my life. The man in that volunteer smock was himself in a wheelchair. And, he didn’t have any legs. The man who was praying for me to get out of my wheelchair can never get out of his. My heart has been moved by the simple act of kindness of a man who didn’t even know me.

After the accident I had put my life as a politician on hold. After meeting him, my focus on being a servant, of serving people and why we do the things that we do has changed.

For more of Georgene Rice click here or listen M-F 4-6pm on KPDQ-FM 93.9 in the Portland area.

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