Editor’s Note: Today’s article is written by FBM Missionary Dan Haynes. In it he shares how a tractor “accident” was instrumental in God calling him to pursue a lifetime of missionary service.
As a young lad, I was privileged to have Christian parents who loved me and shared Christ with me. I lived on a dairy farm of about 200 head of cattle and enjoyed caring for animals. Farming was my life from an early age, doing chores each day before and after school. I made a profession of faith at four years old and continued learning about Christ. My family was faithful at church and both Mom and Dad held positions of leadership. I attended nearby Camp Good News from the time I was about 9 years old until well into my teenage years. I remember the excitement of meeting missionaries each summer and hearing their stories of serving the Lord. Little did I dream that one day I would be one too!
Since I was only 16 years old at high school graduation, my parents kept me on the farm for another year. They then encouraged me to go to Word of Life Bible Institute (WOLBI) in Schroon Lake, NY for a one-year Bible program to seek God’s leading for my life’s ambition. While there, I met Colonel Jack McGuckin, a retired Marine combat pilot and heard his testimony of missionary flying in South America. He was one of many guest speakers we enjoyed hearing at WOLBI.
I was so deeply impressed by the Spirit of God using His Word throughout his testimony. As a result, during the meeting, I committed my life to missionary service.
I will be very honest with you. Although I sensed God’s call on my life, there was a battle going on inside. I loved farming and I wasn’t ready to move forward to fulfill the call of God on my life. In a sense, I was like Jonah running from God’s call to Nineveh. God had to use a big storm to make me obedient. This is how it happened.
I graduated from WOLBI one Sunday in August 1972. I was 19 years old and all I could think of was farming with my Dad. In fact, as I remember, I had already been talking with him about farming and helping lead the youth at church.
Graduation was now over and the very next day, I was finally able to do what I had been really missing during my year of Bible study – tractor driving. I had prided myself with being a good driver. I was one of the best or so I thought. By the age 14, I had won several tractor driving ribbons through the Future Farmers of America local chapter, including a NH state championship. Wow, the best in NH!
I was driving our big John Deere 3020 tractor the very next day after graduation with no thought for God’s call, no interest but my own, no desire to be found faithful to a promise I had made to serve the Lord where He was leading. WHAM! the tractor went out of control as I frantically kept it from overturning and was coasting at breakneck speed straight down the pasture hill, pushed by a fully loaded tandem New Holland manure spreader. The tractor bounced into an old dirt roadbed, breaking the single spindle off the front end and plowing into the ground. Simultaneously, the rear tire broke off the rim and snapped the heavy cast iron fender brace. The fender then flew into the air, impacting the back of my head, knocking me unconscious and catapulting my limp body over the other fender. I hit the ground with such impact, my jaw was broken, and my lower lip was pierced by the upper teeth. I landed in such a position that the tractor could have run over me had not God put the brakes on. The broken front end plowed a deep furrow in ground bringing many tons of steel and smelly cargo to a halt just inches from my body.
Down in the barnyard a few hundred yards away, a herd of curious cows hurried to the edge to see what all the raucous was. The running cows got Dad’s attention who promptly rushed to my side. One look at my bloodied head and limp body made him wonder if I was dead. I learned many years later that this was a life changing moment for Dad. He knelt on the ground humbly pleading with the Lord in a prayer to this effect.
After waking from a three-day coma, I found myself at Dartmouth Hitchcock hospital. It was as if the Lord was speaking audibly, the impression was so clear. “Danny, you have only one life to live. Make it count for me on the mission field. Leave the farm and family you love to serve and follow me.”
I had six months of recovery to begin making plans for further training. By the grace of God, I put my hand to the plow and never looked back. Today, there is complete satisfaction as my wife Marsha and I rejoice in awe over God’s bountiful blessings during a long career of missionary work. We served with Evangelical Baptist Missions/Faith Baptist Mission in Mali and Niger, West Africa.
As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.Psalm 18:30
Editor’s note: We hope this article has been an encouragement to you. Let us all evaluate the “tractor accidents” that God brings into our lives. Perhaps He could be using them to direct our hearts towards a lifetime of service to Him.