He Had Them at Hello – Well Almost

Growing up in a troubled home and making wrong choices early in life are issues to which many of our guys can relate. Rawhide’s guest speaker, Bruce Van Natta, talked of growing up in a dysfunctional home and his subsequent challenges as our students hung on every word. He spoke their language. He “knew” them.

Bruce founded Sweet Bread Ministries and wrote a book called “Saved by Angels”, which details his near-death experience and healing process after a semi-truck cab and engine fell on him, crushing his midsection. And that is a whole other, modern day miracle which sparked audience questions on his current ability to eat spicy food and such. But more on that later.

A Heavenly Hug for a Scared 5 Year Old

Bruce told how he first experienced God’s love when he was only 5 years old. One night, while his alcoholic father was arguing with his mother and threatening to harm Bruce, he prayed for safety. From under the blankets of his childhood bed, Bruce asked God to protect and comfort him with a hug. “Suddenly, the room lit up, and I felt these warm arms wrap around me,” he explained. Bruce woke up safe and sound the next morning, feeling comforted.  His father had not touched him.

As Bruce spoke about that night of so many years ago, I looked around the room at the Rawhide guys in attendance. Most of them were sitting erect, focused intently on the speaker up front. I have it on good account that this focus is not always the case with our guys. Bruce, however, had their attention.

Wrong Turn Meets a Road Block

Despite Bruce’s experience with God’s love at age 5, he struggled to survive in an abusive home and had no healthy adult role models from which to learn. Consequently, he headed down a risky path of substance abuse and wrong choices until he experienced a life-changing event.

It Only Took a Minute

Working as a semi-truck mechanic in 2006, Bruce was about to head home one particular day when his client made one more request. “It should only take a minute,” said the client. “I need the fluids checked in just one more truck.”

“Sure thing.” Bruce lay on a mechanic’s creeper and rolled underneath the semi already perched on the client’s jack. It should only take a minute, and then he’d call it a day. Or so he thought. Suddenly, that jack gave way, bringing down the 10,000-pound truck on Bruce’s midsection like a blunt guillotine. He looked down at his abdomen and saw that his waist was crushed to about an inch of thickness. In severe pain, Bruce cried out “Lord, help me!” before he passed out.

Angels by Each Shoulder

Surprisingly, his pain subsided, and he was looking down onto the scene of the accident. He watched paramedics tend to his crushed body below and noticed two 8-foot angels on each side of him.

A medical helicopter transported Bruce to the hospital. There, doctors found broken ribs, 5 severed main arteries, plus a crushed pancreas and spleen. Given his injuries, doctors doubted Bruce would live through the next few hours. It was a miracle he hadn’t bled to death moments after the accident.

The Long and the Short of It

After several surgeries, Bruce’s small intestine measured only three feet long—four feet short of what a body needs to survive. While the average human small intestine measures about 23 feet, the body needs at least seven feet to absorb vitamins and minerals; otherwise the body will slowly starve. Consequently, Bruce started to lose weight rapidly. His body was starving.

As God would have it, a man whom Bruce met on vacation visited him in the hospital. This visitor was a minister, and upon hearing of Bruce’s internal condition, he prayed for God to heal the intestine so that Bruce may live. Miraculously, Bruce recovered from his medical issues and was eventually released from the hospital. His small intestine had grown from three to nine feet. Doctors were stumped and could offer no explanation other than a modern day miracle.

Sweet Bread Ministries Is Born

Several years after his accident, Bruce and his wife formed Sweet Bread Ministries. Since then, they have traveled around the globe with their family to help heal others in need, including the guys at Rawhide.

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