Horrific Accident, Hard Aftermath Can't Halt Hope
Faith upbringing helps Jenica Flickinger trust that ‘God is there with me every step of the way’
Jenica Flickinger enjoyed a normal, loving, happy childhood in Washington state. She grew up in a Christian home and accepted Christ as her Savior when she was 5 years old. Her parents were the leaders of the Awana program at their church. Jenica participated in Awana through her senior year of high school. She even attained the highest Awana achievement possible – the Citation Award – completing 10 Awana curriculum books and learning more than 700 Bible verses along the way.
Like many young people, Jenica felt she knew the direction her life would take over the next few years. At that point, she could not have fathomed what would happen in the not-so-distant future, most specifically on December 27, 2006.
Danger on a mountain pass
The day started out as any other. Jenica, a friend and four of her brothers and sisters decided to go snowboarding at Stevens Pass, a ski resort near Seattle. They drove higher and higher on the mountain road, heading toward the summit. Soon the snow started to fall. Little did they know that ice was building up on the road ahead.
Still 10 miles from the top, they were crossing a railroad overpass when their van suddenly hit a patch of ice. It slid out of control, careening toward oncoming traffic. A Ford Explorer in the other lane slammed into their passenger side – right where Jenica was sitting.
Everyone in the van was hurt, but Jenica suffered the worst harm, with brain injuries and multiple fractures. She was the first to be airlifted to the hospital. She remained in critical condition in a coma for 10 days.
‘God was looking out for me’
When she awakened, she realized that though her condition was bad, it could have been much worse. Doctors later revealed that Jenica nearly died from her injuries.
“God was looking out for me even then,” Jenica shared, “because I was told I was very lucky; one more vertebra up or down (and) I would not be able to turn my head at all. One person on the emergency crew knew our family and told his wife, so she started praying right away when she heard the news.”
The long road ahead
When she was finally released from the hospital some weeks later, Jenica still faced a long road to recovery. With a broken pelvis and ankle and poor balance due to the brain injury, she couldn’t walk. She couldn’t speak, either. Much like a stroke victim, she had a hard time forming words and could not even remember how to spell her name. She was moved to a nursing home until she could regain some of her functions.
It was close to four months after the accident before she took her first steps, holding onto her parents’ arms.
‘God is with me’
Now, over a year and a half later, Jenica still experiences weakness on her right side and continues to have trouble walking. But she feels she’s come farther and faster than the doctor expected. She volunteers as an Awana leader and works at her job as many days as she can.
Even after all she’s been through, she knows God is in control.
“I know I’m not fully to the point of full recovery, and I don’t know if I’ll ever quite get there,” Jenica said.
“The doctor says I’ll probably never walk very fast, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. One of my goals is to be one of those cases that shows everyone (especially those in the doctor realm) that I really did make a fast recovery with God’s help. To show what an awesome God we serve.
“I think God was using the prayers of everyone for me – either family or friends or people that heard about me through someone else, to help me in my recovery. I’m learning that God is there with me every step of the way.”
'We are not angry with God'
Jenica's parents taught her to steadfastly trust in God's goodness through trials as Jenica grew up.
"One topic that has surfaced more than once during this post-accident time is that of anger toward God. We are not angry with God, nor is Jenica," said her mother, Cindy. "Wayne (Cindy's husband) and I decided that one of the reasons why we are not predisposed to anger with God is due in part to our own background in growing up. No matter what happened, that idea was never expressed in our families or what our parents taught. Thus, it was a concept that we believe was also handed down to our children. God made us and wants only what is best for us.
"We need to believe what God allows us to go through is always for our own good. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. These verses continue to encourage me, not only in our current experiences, but also remembering that we are being equipped to help others as they experience trials. Even the things that might be considered setbacks are not really such because it is all part of a much larger picture. He is good and does not fail us."
The faith principles Jenica learned in Awana and from her parents provided the steady anchors Jenica needed during the storm.