Participants: Cheri Peters (Host), Luke Pierson, Mark Pierson
Series Code: CLR
Program Code: CLR00043A
00:10 Welcome to Celebrating Life In Recovery, I'm Cheri your host.
00:12 Sometimes we literally get slammed in this life, and
00:15 during those times we see who we are,
00:17 but more importantly we see who God is.
00:19 That's what we're going to look on the set at today.
00:21 So come join us!
00:49 Welcome back, I travel all over the country, and there
00:53 are sometimes I just get blessed because
00:55 I get to a place, and I literally get to watch the folks
00:59 that are from that church, from that community stepping
01:02 out and doing ministry.
01:03 It is a ministry they are ready have established and
01:05 some people just bless me.
01:08 What they are doing is so real and so honest, I
01:13 just want to know, where were they when I was a kid.
01:16 So this next group that you're going to meet, you have
01:20 met Monica before, Monica's been on another show.
01:23 It is her family, and as I got to know them and watching
01:27 the ministry, and watching them work with adolescents
01:30 and watching them bring in people into their homes
01:31 and loving on them, and then I see and hear their
01:34 own testimony and where God has led them.
01:36 I was so kind of shocked because some stories I was
01:41 hearing was so sad, yet I saw this joy and this healing
01:44 that is I wanted for them to unfold it for me to see how
01:48 those two went together.
01:49 They did and I was blessed so, I want to have you meet the
01:53 folks that I met when I was in Greeley California.
01:57 So Mark, come on up because I want to start with you
02:01 because, I want to know who you were,
02:04 who's your wife, how you fell in love, and
02:07 some things before you share with us what happened.
02:10 Well Cathy was my wife and we were married 29 years, and
02:17 it was always getting better - good!
02:20 I've known her since she was 14, and we have two sons,
02:25 Mark and Luke.
02:26 Cathy was the only girl I had ever kissed and it still
02:32 that way today - when you first said that to me, did
02:35 you see the tears of wield up in my eyes? - yeah!
02:37 My heart just went like no way, how romantic is that.
02:40 She really was the love of your life, you have known her
02:44 whole life - yes - yes.
02:46 That is incredibly cool.
02:49 So you end up married and having your sons and your sons
02:54 move away and you're going to help them on a move.
02:57 Yes, both of my sons decided to move to Michigan, my
03:00 older son Mark moved first.
03:03 Luke with his wife Candace and they have two children
03:07 that they are guardians of, where going to move to Michigan
03:10 in March of 2006.
03:12 Cathy and I wanted to go with them because my sister,
03:17 her family were there - so they are moving to Michigan.
03:21 The ministry I saw them with the teens and had two
03:24 people with them from that ministry.
03:27 Candace was pregnant too, right?
03:28 Yes, she was like 7 months pregnant - okay - at that time.
03:31 We met them at their home in Bakersfield, my wife and I
03:39 drove the truck and the some followed in the car behind us.
03:42 The following day in New Mexico, Luke and I and Raymond, the
03:48 son they were taken care of, were in the U-Haul.
03:52 Cathy and Candace and Amanda were following
03:55 in the spot behind us.
03:57 It started snowing, and when we came on the freeway the
04:02 traffic had stopped, because there was a wreck farther
04:05 up ahead, so we stopped behind them.
04:07 A semi truck went slow in the left lane, and after it
04:14 had went by two cars spun out by that short time.
04:17 I told Luke to get on the phone and tell Cathy to pull
04:21 up beside us, because this can't be safe.
04:24 He picked up the phone and looked in his mirror and said
04:27 dad were going to get hit.
04:30 All of a sudden our truck was moving forward, and we hit
04:34 the back of the truck in front of us.
04:35 We had the biggest U-Haul truck, and I knew that Cathy
04:40 was behind us and we were moved forward, so I knew they
04:44 had been hit and it would be bad because our truck was
04:47 moving, and I had my foot on the brake.
04:49 You had a lot in those big U-Haul's, you had a lot
04:52 around you and they were in a smaller car.
04:55 Yeah, they were in a Passat - wow.
04:58 And I remember opening the door of the truck, and I
05:01 didn't want to look back, because I knew it was going to
05:03 be bad, because we had moved.
05:04 I finally turned my head and the car had been pushed up
05:07 beside us in the roof was tore off from the driver side
05:11 and sticking up in the air.
05:12 I walked back there and picked up the headliner of the
05:17 car and the three girls were in there - you could see
05:22 them? - yes, and they were, nobody was moving.
05:25 Then Amanda after a certain - but you know I've asked
05:30 you this before, because it seems like time must of
05:34 stood still for you in that moment?
05:35 Yeah afterwards, I realize that I do not remember any
05:39 noises, it seemed real peaceful, and I remember
05:42 thinking, God is making this peaceful - because there
05:46 were people were sliding into each other all around you
05:48 - yeah there were about 20 to 25 cars in the total pile up.
05:52 There were semi's, a city bus, but there was this strange
06:00 peace at the same time, and I remember thinking, God is
06:04 doing this because this is something you normally read
06:06 in Reader's Digest and tragedy stories and just those stories.
06:10 I remember having that thought went through my mind,
06:11 they should be in Reader's Digest,
06:13 but it is happening to me.
06:14 This was real.
06:15 I was a volunteer fireman in the past and I remembered
06:20 the ABCs of rescues first is airway.
06:22 So I checked my wife airwave, but there was no, nothing,
06:25 I mean, when I picked up her head.
06:29 I tried to open her airway, but nothing happened - wow.
06:34 Then I can see a blue lump on her neck, and I thought
06:38 her neck was probably broken, and so I just laid - so
06:43 you going through doing the right thing, everything was
06:48 kind of peaceful, slow motion, sound and even the snow
06:53 was still falling.
06:54 Yes, and it started snowing harder after the accident,
06:58 and it popped into my mind these are Jesus' tears that
07:02 froze, you know, because it was cold out.
07:04 And one thing - because you felt a sense of God
07:07 grieving for you? - yes, because I knew Jesus doesn't
07:12 want anybody to die, and He is sad when there is death
07:16 of saved or unsaved people, especially the unsaved
07:19 people, He is more sad.
07:21 I wanted to say something, but the only thing that came
07:25 to my mind was Jesus be with her - Amen!
07:28 Afterwards, I realized God is in my life, this is coming
07:32 to my mind because I always doubt myself.
07:35 My relationship with God, sometimes - but during that
07:37 time, you didn't doubt Him at all.
07:39 He was right there, present with you, even feeling His
07:42 tears on your skin.
07:43 Yeah, and Luke came around after he can get through
07:47 the wreck and we stood there and we prayed.
07:49 Just for a short moment that we would stick with God and
07:54 not let this ruin our lives - I'm going to come back to
07:59 this right here, but I want to ask Luke to come up.
08:02 So will you come back up after I introduced folks to
08:07 Luke, to Amanda, to Monica.
08:09 Then I want to know, why is it that when I met you the
08:15 only thing I felt was a man of God full of joy.
08:17 So this right now, I do not know how you survived that.
08:21 So, I want to talk with your son real quick - sure.
08:24 Luke, come on up, and so now I see your father going over there
08:30 You knew that you were going to get hit, you knew
08:33 at that moment said that something is going to happen.
08:36 Did you even want to get out of a car and go back there?
08:38 The first thing I thought we were hit, I was on the
08:42 passenger side so I didn't see the car was to get
08:44 Raymond to safety, because when I got out of the U-Haul
08:47 after we got hit.
08:48 I looked back, and a couple hundred feet back I saw this
08:51 semi at a high-speed hit a car stopped on the roadway.
08:54 So I knew it was really dangerous - so you had this
08:57 little kid with you still - right and so I basically
09:00 yanked him out of the U-Haul and ran to the side of the
09:03 freeway towards a fence side and have him stand there.
09:06 I still had my dads cell phone in my hand, and I called
09:10 911, and they said there was already emergency
09:13 vehicles on the way.
09:14 I was like okay and they asked if anyone was hurt, and I
09:18 stop for a second and thought that I hadn't even seen
09:20 the car that my wife and my mom were riding in.
09:23 I thought, you know what I don't know.
09:26 So, she said that's fine, emergency crews are on
09:28 their way so I hung up.
09:29 And to get to the U-Haul, since there was a big pile up behind
09:33 us I had to crawl under the semi that we had been hit into.
09:37 When I got on their side, I saw the car and it didn't
09:42 look like a car, it was so destroyed
09:44 When I first saw it, I was so shocked because it didn't
09:49 look like a car, it just look like a pile of metal.
09:53 Yeah, yeah and I got up to the car and looked because my
09:59 wife was right in the back seat sleeping.
10:00 The bumper and part of the trunk was pushed up over her
10:04 and I called her name a few times, she didn't move she
10:08 didn't say anything.
10:09 My dad was working on my mom trying to clear her airway
10:12 and Amanda was crying and begging me to get her out of
10:16 the car - so Amanda was at that point becoming fully
10:20 awake - she - she was already awake by the time I got there.
10:22 But my first thought was to pray, and I prayed to God
10:27 and said God, I know that you can raise them from the
10:32 dead, but I said I had peace about this and that I felt
10:36 it happen for a reason, I am okay with this happening
10:40 because You're in control.
10:41 Like my dad said, I felt total peace at that time.
10:44 So literally isn't that interesting, that literally God
10:47 just was with you guys, because both of you said the
10:50 same thing.
10:51 For whatever reason, as strange as this might sound to
10:54 anybody, was that I knew that God was with me - oh yeah!
10:58 I knew that God was with them, I knew that we were okay.
11:01 There was not a doubt in when the Bible says that it is
11:04 a peace that passes all understanding that is
11:06 totally true, because the worst day of my life,
11:08 I was feeling terrible but was totally at peace.
11:10 Totally at peace - your wife and your daughter didn't
11:14 make it - right my wife was seven months pregnant with
11:18 Katrina. Right!
11:19 They did not - and even when you say with Katrina, and
11:23 that you found out it was a girl during the autopsy - yeah,
11:25 afterwards it was a day or two after the funeral home.
11:28 They had asked if I had known it was boy or girl, I said no,
11:31 so they found out and told me.
11:34 Wow, how did you survive that?
11:36 And did that peace's stay with you as you walked
11:40 from the accident.
11:41 Cause that had to be crazy with all the emergency
11:44 vehicles got there and tried to get everybody dealt with.
11:47 Like I rode with Amanda to the hospital and spent the
11:49 rest of the day in the hospital with her, but the peace
11:53 never left, and honestly, I had hard times where I'm sad,
11:57 but being at peace I've still had the peace so - because
12:02 you know, you will see them again - oh yeah.
12:03 And that definitely helps.
12:05 I wonder how people who don't believe in God or have a
12:07 relationship with Him or how they can deal with death.
12:10 Because with no hope, I can't see how you can handle a
12:13 situation like that.
12:15 Did those scriptures about the Resurrection and
12:17 seeing your loved ones again, did those scriptures
12:20 come up for you right away?
12:21 I don't remember certain scriptures, but I remember just
12:24 having that peace of Yeah I would see them again,
12:27 that they were saved there was no doubt.
12:29 I never doubted, like is it true or anything.
12:32 The whole thing has just made everything more real to me.
12:35 And you know that, and we're going to get back to that,
12:38 because that's what I saw in your life when I met you guys at
12:42 first, I saw such a joy, I'm going to Saturday Night Live and
12:46 watching you minister to youth and you love of each other.
12:50 There is such a joy and such a realness in your Christianity.
12:53 I mean, it really is that you are the hand and feet of
12:56 Christ in that community, and so when you start telling me
12:59 this and I'm thinking what do you mean that you've just lost
13:02 your wife, what you mean and I wanted to stop knowing
13:05 you're doing this ministry and saying, are you okay
13:08 And you're looking at me saying I'm more than okay - oh
13:12 yeah - that's a lot.
13:13 Because before I had more trust in having a good job or
13:16 providing for my family wanting to do it for myself,
13:20 where God wasn't number 1.
13:21 Now I have the real joy because I am not looking to more
13:26 feeling happier safe by what I do or what I earn, or how
13:29 comfortable I am or the amount of money or any of that.
13:31 I found out that God is the only thing that will ever
13:34 bring true joy or happiness and that is the most
13:36 important thing.
13:37 A lot of good has come out of a bad thing.
13:41 God has led my to dedicating my life to being a
13:44 missionary, my whole life, not a 1 or 5 years or 10
13:46 years, it's my whole life, no retirement, nothing.
13:49 I'm just being in missionary - and it's almost like
13:52 when you see, to me some time, somebody will say, you
13:55 know, this world, I really actually like it here and
13:58 I'm thinking, man people are dying, people are losing family
14:02 members, there's addiction, molest, and we were really
14:05 made for another place - old yeah.
14:07 Death really has you evaluate that, do you actually
14:10 believe what the Bible has to say about you know,
14:13 this world is so hurtful, and God said there is going to
14:16 be a day I will comeback and were out of here.
14:19 Yeah - and until then work for Me - I'm looking
14:22 forward to that, because it just showed me how
14:25 everything is meaningless in this world and people is
14:29 all that matters to me now.
14:30 You know relationships with people and sharing what
14:32 Jesus has done in my life and what He can do for them.
14:35 I wish I could show them you, and I should say, you at
14:38 work, but it's not work for you in your life, loving
14:42 on folks, because it is way cool.
14:44 Yeah, I don't view it as work, missionary work
14:47 is not work to me.
14:48 I look forward to it I love it - your a man of God.
14:52 So, you know, when you're dad talked about your mom and
14:55 said that that was the first girl I ever kissed, that
14:58 was the same for you - Yep and growing up I wasn't
15:01 someone that I'm only going to kiss my wife, whatever
15:04 I never said that or ever thought about it,
15:05 it just ended up that way.
15:07 I was thankful for it, very thankful for it.
15:09 Exactly, Luke you got to meet the gentleman that ran
15:13 into Candace - yes - what happened with that?
15:16 Because I don't even think unless you know, I know you,
15:19 so, I believe the story, but it is almost unbelievable.
15:22 Yes, the day after the accident since it happened in New Mexico
15:25 and close to our family on my dad's side of the family so we
15:29 able to be right away with relatives, which it was nice.
15:32 The day after since we were moving I had about a
15:34 thousand dollars in the car and I didn't have anything
15:37 to do that day, I felt like doing something, so I wanted
15:39 to go look for it.
15:40 One of my uncles and two of my youth leaders flew in
15:44 the day of the accident just to stay and support us,
15:48 stay with us.
15:49 So we were going to drive out to the wrecking yard where
15:52 the car was at, it was about 10 miles from the accident site.
15:54 To look for the money, so we got there and
15:57 looked through the car for a while and couldn't find it.
15:59 The guy that worked at the wrecking yard said a few
16:01 times that you should go look at the accident
16:03 site and see if you can't find it there.
16:04 I didn't really want to do that I thought there was no way
16:06 I was going to find it, there was a big pile-up and
16:08 it had snowed the day before, and melted off, but as I
16:10 like, I'm not going to find it.
16:11 I kept saying that so like, alright, we will.
16:14 So we went to the accident site, and we got there
16:16 There was some vehicles still there?
16:18 There was not exactly where our car was at, but there
16:21 have been multiple wrecks along the freeway, and there
16:23 was still some semis and cars in different spots.
16:26 They hadn't been taken away and it was pretty much
16:28 exactly 24 hours after the accident.
16:30 So we went to the site, when we got there was a crew measuring
16:35 and surveying the accident site and investigating
16:37 how it happened.
16:38 I asked them if they had seen a little wallet with the
16:41 money and they said no.
16:42 They were really nice, said they were sorry,
16:44 and they got to talk to me.
16:45 And so we turned to leave and when we turned to leave
16:48 there was a man standing with them that wasn't
16:50 dressed like them and I could tell he wasn't part of them.
16:52 He was just standing around, and he came up to me and
16:55 when he got close to me, he started crying and told me I
16:58 heard what you said.
16:59 I am the driver who hit and killed your family yesterday.
17:03 In my first - how do you do that.
17:05 I'm just stunned even hearing it, it is just I can even
17:09 imagine looking him and for that split second saying okay
17:13 God were are we going with this.
17:15 I didn't have time to think, my first reaction,
17:18 honestly was all God was I walked right up
17:21 to him and hugged him and told him it's okay.
17:24 My family and I won't have any hard feelings, it's okay,
17:28 we know you didn't mean it and we forgive you and God
17:33 forgives you too.
17:34 He was just crying for a few minutes and hugging me and
17:38 saying he was sorry and thank you.
17:39 Then he said, I am not much of a godly man, but last night I
17:44 I was so troubled that in the hotel room I prayed to God
17:48 and accepted God because of this, because I didn't
17:50 know what to do.
17:51 So he didn't say much else, I said I'm sorry this all
17:57 happened, but I know God is with you, and that's
18:00 all that matters, so we parted ways.
18:03 A lot of people ask me if I felt anger since or whatever
18:06 I just tell them that I didn't truly forgive him.
18:09 because forgiveness is your letting it go,
18:11 it's done and it's forgotten.
18:13 And I honestly have not been angry at him ever.
18:15 I actually someday, hope to get to meet and talk to him again,
18:18 because I wish him the best I hope he's doing well.
18:20 So we didn't press charges or anything - you didn't
18:22 press charges and then a blessing that you gave him was
18:24 don't carry this your whole life.
18:26 You didn't mean to do this, this is not something that
18:29 you set out for, I'm sorry, the weather was so
18:31 horrendous, I mean all those kind of things, but you
18:34 know, had you responded in a different way, you could
18:37 have totally destroyed him for the rest of his life.
18:40 Because I'm sure the images that he was going to carry away
18:43 was this tremendous guilt, and you said don't do that.
18:47 Yeah I've actually felt in my position, if it be harder for
18:51 me if I killed the people that having lost them.
18:54 Because for me, I just can't imagine that would be terrible.
18:57 Yet he had to see them all, he was actually was someone who
19:00 got a blanket for Amanda while she was still in the car.
19:03 So I know what he has to live with the rest of his life.
19:06 So while you guys were going back to see what happened
19:09 he actually was coming forward, can I do anything?
19:12 I guess so, I don't remember seeing him, because at the
19:15 wreck our remember certain things and other things I don't
19:19 I don't remember - exactly - so.
19:20 I would like to talk with Amanda and
19:23 just see, but know that man you have blessed me.
19:27 You blessed me even before I heard all this, I was
19:31 just blessed by who you were and the fact that you were
19:34 so incredibly in your ministry to these youth that were around
19:39 you then I heard this, then I hear this story about your
19:42 wife, and the follow-up.
19:44 I hadn't even heard about the forgiveness part, but I
19:46 thought, you know what, this is not a guy who walked out and
19:49 just is an incredible man of God, this is a man of God that
19:53 has struggled with horrendous things, but did not let
19:56 go the hand of God during those times.
19:58 Man, Man, okay Amanda.
20:01 You know, it's, you were living with Luke and Candace,
20:07 in the car with the girls, they were with your brother,
20:12 the boys in a U-Haul and you were the only survivor here.
20:16 Yeah - do you remember the accident?
20:19 I remember bits and pieces. I don't remember stopping or
20:25 getting hit, but I was knocked unconscious and I
20:29 remember coming out of that.
20:31 I seeing things around and smelling stuff - the fact
20:35 that I remember was one time the seatbelt was on and it
20:39 was really tight - yeah.
20:40 I was crying because my seat was pushed forward, and it
20:44 was really like tight on me.
20:46 I was crying for someone to take it off and I was really confused
20:49 I didn't know what was going on - so then who got
20:54 you out of the car?
20:55 Mark - say okay so Mark gets you out of the car,
20:57 literally get you into a safe place.
20:59 Yell well Mark cut my seatbelt off and I think one
21:03 of the paramedics actually pulled me out of the car.
21:07 And then they took me to the ambulance, and I had to sit
21:11 in there while they checked stuff.
21:13 Did you see Candace or - I didn't think to look back -
21:18 okay - for some reason.
21:19 That's why it's so confused about it, because I looked
21:22 over at Cathy and remember seeing her face and she was
21:25 bleeding, I remember that but I never thought to look
21:28 back at Candace.
21:29 You know, I know, just because I talk with you before, I
21:33 know little bit about what has happened here is that you
21:37 are the only survivor in this family that had just taken
21:41 you in and you love, you held something for full year.
21:45 Can you talk about that?
21:46 I did because I thought well, since I wasn't really
21:51 related, I kind of felt really bad because I had just
21:55 come into this family.
21:57 I had survived this accident in their family members, 3
22:00 of them were killed in one day.
22:02 I had a really strong, well Satan had a stronghold over me
22:07 and I was just blaming myself - and the guilty that I should
22:12 have died they should have lived - yeah.
22:13 I was thinking a man they're not going to like it and
22:16 they are going to hate me for this because I thought
22:19 they would hold something against me because I was the
22:21 only one who survived.
22:23 All on all they were actually where happy - but a year later,
22:27 you come back to the site because you are staying with
22:30 the family, and you actually bought it up to them.
22:33 Yeah, now I told them that is what I thought,
22:36 but they disagreed.
22:38 Really, strongly - uh-huh, yes - because they love you, yeah.
22:43 To me I could just see these guys literally saying, what
22:48 did you mean, because we never thought that.
22:51 Yeah, - is that what they told you too.
22:53 As we love you, we never thought that we never for a
22:55 minute want harm come to you.
22:58 Don't ever think that again don't carry that.
23:00 Yeah, I don't anymore - and you still living there?
23:04 Yes - this is your family - uh-huh.
23:06 Yeah, I accept them as my family now - with
23:08 your grief, because you messed up.
23:14 I actually wasn't as close to Cathy, because I didn't
23:18 see her that much.
23:19 But I didn't know her, but a little bit.
23:22 Candace, Luke had went on a trip for two weeks for work
23:26 or something and I really got close to Candace.
23:29 We talked a lot and I really started to get close to her.
23:32 I was really bummed because it seemed like when your
23:36 really start to get close to someone in life, they are
23:39 always taken away from you.
23:41 Or something happens where there's a wall between there,
23:45 something like that, so I was really, come on you know,
23:49 I was asking God why did You take her way?
23:51 I just started to get close to her.
23:52 and for people that don't know, because you're
23:55 mom had some issues with relationships, drugs, and you
23:59 were abandoned as a child and now you are in this
24:02 home and something happens.
24:04 It feels like to you that this is always happening, so part
24:08 of your healing must be allowing God to say, you know
24:12 what I am not going to take people away from you, I'm
24:15 sorry when this happens.
24:17 I'm sure that God grieved for you as much as
24:20 He grieved for anyone else.
24:22 And I mean, that accident in any other survivors
24:25 in that accident, because what you have been
24:27 through in your life already.
24:28 I still want to adopt you and I know I don't have to
24:32 because you have family.
24:33 But man, I just want to adopt you.
24:36 I want to thank you for sharing with us, because I know
24:40 it's not always easy to share.
24:41 Do you want to say something before I bring Monica up?
24:45 No, - okay, we are going to go ahead and take a break
24:48 and I know that this is kind of intense, well this is intense
24:54 And when we lose someone a whole family tragedy happens.
24:59 Literally, this is even bigger than the family as a
25:02 ministry and family tragedy.
25:04 But when we come back, we are going to talk about how God
25:08 stepped in this family and made everything real and full
25:12 of joy and they walked into a ministry and into a life
25:16 that they probably wouldn't have walked into it.
25:18 the realism with what we deal on this planet not hit them
25:22 if not slammed into them with this accident.
25:24 So you'll be right back. Stay with us!