Perhaps one of the most accurate accidental statements made by someone who had no idea what he was saying! It was the comment made by the Chief Fire Officer, as he looked at Jonathan & Kathryn Crosskey’s Mini Metro sitting, totally destroyed, in the middle of the road – the M4 exit ramp to London Heathrow Airport’s Terminals 1, 2, and 3, at 0830 a.m., rush hour, on a Monday morning….
I mentioned this testimony in a blog or Facebook post a couple of weeks ago: and was asked to tell it here. So here goes… it’s quite long, but quite incredible….
At that time, we were all part of Broadwater Christian Fellowship, in Worthing, West Sussex (UK), and I was on my way – Monday, March 14, 1994 – to the United States, to preach, for the first time. I was heading for Warwick, Rhode Island: San Antonio, Texas: and Los Angeles. I was excited, nervous, and totally pumped up by the events of the weekend that preceded the trip. Back in 1983, my passion to see people healed had been ignited by the lovely Ian Andrews, at a healing conference. This weekend in March ’94, we had Ian at our church, two months before what became known as the ‘Toronto Blessing’ was unleashed on the world. We experienced over those 3 days of meetings a lot of what was to come over the next few years. It was amazing.
During the meeting Saturday evening, a huge angel – 9 feet tall – appeared on the platform: interestingly, only Ian, and the younger children, could see him. We were aware of his presence, needless to say! He was stood, Ian told us, with his feet slightly apart, hands on the cross-piece of his sword, with the point downwards. God then spoke to Ian: ‘Tell the people who want vision and insight into the nations, to go and stand where the angel’s standing’…. there was a rush to the front, but God hadn’t finished…. ‘but you must be prepared to pay the price of those gifts’. A lot of people stopped on their way to the front, went back, and sat down. ‘Nothing worth having comes without a fight. Got to kick at the darkness til it bleeds daylight’ – words written many years ago by great musician Bruce Cockburn. Personally, I want everything God has for me: it’s never come easy, always been a fight. What ever will we achieve if we’re not prepared to pay the price of such astonishing gifts that God wants to give us?
All sorts of things happened to the people who stood on the angels ‘spot’. It was very specific where he was, almost down to ‘move another 6 inches forward’…. for me, I felt I’d been plugged in – not to a socket on the wall, but to the grid supply for the town. It was sensational. I wanted to stay there, but there were people behind me, so I had to move… 🙁 . But – I sneaked up during the meeting and stood there again, with the same 50,000 volts experience. And again at the end of the Saturday evening meeting. I wanted all I could get.
Sunday morning, I asked Ian Andrews if the angel was still there. Yes. So I was back again… three more times during the meeting. At the end, Ian said he’d gone, and I made one of those ‘throw away’ remarks that turned out to have enormous significance. ‘That’s because I’ve put him in the car, and I’m taking him with me to the States tomorrow!’
Chatting away to Kathryn in the car next morning, on the way to Heathrow Airport, was all about the weekend – and the angel. Filled up Jonathan and Kathryn’s aged and a bit past it’s best before date Metro, with petrol, just before getting on to the M25 London Orbital motorway. No problems – until joining the M4 – so busy, though we were driving at about 40 miles per hour – and then exiting for the airport…. in front of us was a double-trailer articulated lorry (18 wheel semi, for Americans!), who suddenly stopped dead. Kathryn’s reactions were incredible: a brilliant emergency stop, inches from the truck.
As we’d stopped so suddenly, my seat belt should have locked and anchored me back. It didn’t. But nor did it ‘fail’ – I just went forward very slowly, seat-belt still across my lap and chest, and I was able to look in the door mirror (remember in the UK the passenger sits on the left!), and saw another 18 wheel truck coming at us, pretty fast, and clearly the driver hadn’t seen the traffic had stopped….I thought that I THOUGHT the words, ‘This is it, Lord, I’m on my way, I’ll see you in a minute’, but Kathryn told me I said them out loud….as the truck behind hit us, at about 40 miles an hour, into the back of, and underneath, the back of the stationary truck in front….
As I’m writing this, I’m watching the fascinating documentary series on TV: ‘A1: Britain’s longest road’ – at the very moment a 38 ton truck is stopped in the middle lane. The police officer on his way to the scene, is saying, ‘The effects of hitting a wagon, at 40/50/60 miles an hour, that is stationary, could be fatal’….. Hmm!!
‘Your life flashes in front of your eyes’ sort of happened in a split second, but what is more memorable was the noise of , the irresistible, unstoppable movement forward, the darkness as the lorry pushed us fast under the truck in front, and then the silence….
I couldn’t move in my seat, but I could feel my legs, and other bits….the lack of my personal movement made my ‘throw away’ comment on the Sunday – ‘I’ve put the angel in the car…’ – very real! My being pushed forward against the restraint of the seat belt, I knew very quickly that it was the angel…. the impact of two huge vehicles inwards, forwards, and downwards, had buckled the roof, it was pointing in a sharp shard of steel down into the car – right where my head would have been a minute earlier….and it would have gone through my skull. I couldn’t move, too, as the truck behind swerved at the last second, hit the Metro more on the left side, and the engine was almost on my lap, and the boot (trunk) almost behind the passenger seat, with the back seat crushed against it.
After a few moments, I remember thinking, ‘Am I dead?’ I opened one eye, and was surrounded by twisted metal, and an inordinate amount of toughened glass shards (not laminated here!). I thought, ‘If I’m dead, and this is heaven, I’m not impressed’…. After a few moments more, I managed to swivel my head to see if Kathryn was ok. She was, and calmly unclipped her seat belt, and climbed out her glass-less driver’s door ‘window’. (She’s tall and slim, not attributes common with me!). My seat belt was jammed, and couldn’t move anyway…
By now, the M4 was gridlocked – don’t forget it was rush hour, and the Heathrow exit is pretty close to the busiest motorway in the world, the M25…. 🙂 – the lorry that hit us jack-knifed as he braked and swerved, fortunately not so much that he came round and hit us broadside. Both truck driver were out of their trucks, trying to get my door open, and there must have been a good 100-200 other drivers out of their cars trying to get me out. The guy who hit us was foreign, didn’t speak much English: the truck we’d gone under was driven by a Brit, who asked how much petrol we’d got – full tank – and panicked that we’d catch fire/blow up…. I tried to reassure him that if we’d survived THIS, I didn’t think we’d blow up now!
Kathryn, who is very prophetic, looked into the car, and had one of ‘those’ words of knowledge that you’d normally be very tempted NOT to give, as it sounded so stupid! Bless her, she told me anyway: ‘God’s told me to tell you to swivel your hips!’ – I wasn’t (still not) a good hip-swiveller standing up outside of a car I was totally trapped in – and couldn’t move enough to swivel my hips anyway…..which I told her, but that I might, with a lot of effort, manage to jerk my backside…. she thought that was adequate enough, so I concentrated hard, and jerked my bum as much as I could….
…..and in front of maybe 200 people, in the middle of the M4, without moving a muscle, I went up and out through the glassless windscreen, and landed on the hard shoulder. Mouths of countless people hung open, eyes popped out on stalks, I was stunned and euphoric…. with the amount of twisted, sharp metal, and the vast quantity of toughened glass shards, if I COULD have climbed out, I’d have cut my clothes, hands, and legs, to pieces. I didn’t have a mark on me…..and I’d flown! The angel, having taken the brunt of the rear-end shunt, had got out and pulled me out the front….
It was the best street evangelism Kathryn and I had ever done – rush hour, M4 Heathrow exit – while we waited for the emergency services. A good number of police, fire, and paramedics arrived: the Chief Fire Officer walked over to the multiple pieces of the Metro – it had disintegrated into 5 or more pieces as the two trucks had moved away – looked into the car, and asked where the bodies were. ‘There should be two decapitated corpses in here’, he happened to say to me! ‘Where’s the driver?’ I pointed Kathryn out to him, and his comment was, ‘It’s a good job you’re slim, darlin’!’.
He then realised that there had been passenger, as the seat belt was still connected – lap and chest straps! – and I mentioned that it was me. He looked me up and down, looked back in the car, looked me up and down again, and said, with some very colourful language, said, ‘But you don’t fit in there! You must have a guardian angel looking after you, mate!’ Of course, it’s impossible to get out of a seat-belt when the lap-strap is still connected….
‘I have, let me tell you about him!’ – and Kathryn and I talked to all the emergency service guys about the angel…..the paramaedics wanted to take us to hospital for check ups, but we refused treatment, as I said I had to catch the plane, needed to be at Heathrow about an hour (at least) earlier… the firemen laughed, and said that if my luggage was in the boot, it wouldn’t be worth salvaging. I asked them to get it out for me: they had to cut it out, one of the mega size very hard plastic Samsonite (Oyster?) cases I used to use. When they got to it, it was crushed like a concertina, and they put the squashed ‘offering’ on the road – at which moment it just ‘popped’ back into shape! I opened it, nothing in it was damaged – even my Sony Discman (remember them??!!) still worked!
The police took us there, at warp-speed, unmarked car, sirens and blues going….got to Heathrow, and American Airlines (when they were quite good!!) had closed the flight. If you travel much, you’ll know that once the flight is closed, especially the door of the plane, it doesn’t get re-opened. The nice young lady at check in told me this, I pleaded that I’d been held up by an accident: she countered with ‘lots of other people were held up by it, but got here’….I asked her if they’d been IN the accident, as I had. Her face went white: ‘You were IN it? We heard it was a fatality!’. I patted myself down, and said, ‘I don’t think I’m a ghost, and even if I am, I can carry my luggage….’. She told me to wait a few minutes, made a phone call, and told me they’d open the flight for me!! Yeah!! While waiting for an electric buggy to arrive to rush me to the plane, Kathryn made one of the best phone calls ever, to Jonathan.
‘Jon, I’ve had a bit of a bump in the car, and I’m not going to be able to drive it home(!!!! – it really was in 5 pieces, and the front seats sat in splendid isolation, alone, on the back of the rescue truck) – could you come to Terminal 3 to collect me?’. The art of telling the truth without spreading panic!
At the plane, the nice Cabin Service Director greeted me, with, ‘Heard you’d been in a bit of a bump on the way here, so, hope you don’t mind, but we’ve taken the liberty of giving you a slightly better seat’…. DON’T MIND???!! Never!!!! I’d got a cheap economy seat – London-Boston-Houston-Los Angeles-New York-London: and I’m shown to a wonderful armchair, in First Class…. thank you, God!! As I sat there, eyes closed, just thanking God for protection, life…. a lady’s voice asked me, ‘Can I bring you a glass of champagne?’ What would you have said, huh?! ‘Yes, I do believe you can!’ I replied, and celebrated life, in First Class, holding my glass(es!) of champagne up to God, and thanking him for his power and his angels….
I had on a blue jacket, and about 30 minutes into the flight, I scratched my head – and my shoulders looked like I’d got terminal dandruff…. the posh man (some distance away!) across the aisle from me, looked with disdain at me, that a terminal dandruffee could be in First Class: I explained it was glass dust, that I’d got some big lumps of toughened glass in my hair (I had much more hair then!!) – and showed him – saying I’d been in an accident…. ‘Not the Metro crushed between the trucks on the slip road?’ – ‘Yes’ – ‘You must have an angel looking after you….’. He’d unwittingly given himself just 6½ hours, in the same seat, for me to tell him!!
Celebrating with my friends, pastors in Warwick, Rhode Island, was wonderful. No alcohol (good American Christians!), but it was so wonderful to celebrate the reality of God’s ability to deliver, fulfil his promises concerning angels looking after us….
When I went up to bed, I took off my t-shirt – and yelled! I often WANT to yell when I take off my shirt – it’s not a sight I inflict on people too often! – but…..on my biceps were the MOST ENORMOUS FINGER AND THUMB PRINT BRUISE MARKS where the angel had reached into the car from the front, and pulled my out through the windscreen. I laughed and cried, ran downstairs and showed Rich and Paula, and the celebrations began all over again….. It was a unbelieveable sight, at the end of a totally unbelievable day. Life….life….life.
Ian Andrews told the story wherever he went! Then he asked me to go to a big conference in Minneapolis, where he is an annual speaker, and asked me to tell the story myself. It was a real privilege: and the ovation for God, and the angel, were long and loud. As I finished my bit, the wife of the conference organisers, a lovely couple, Pastors Jim and Ramona Rickard, came and hugged me. Ramona sees angels often: and she said something to me that I thought was a question, as it rose at the ned of her sentence. ‘You know that your angel is still with you?’. ‘I’m pretty certain he is, Ramona….’ and she interrupted me, and said that it wasn’t a question, it was a statement….
She told me that the moment I started to speak, he appeared on the platform behind me (I wasn’t standing on the platform). The church the conference was held in had a 45 foot ‘drop’ from the ceiling to the platform – and Ramona said that she could only see up to his waist, the rest of him disappearing out through the ceiling, as he stood in the same pose that he’d stood in on March 12, 1994, in Worthing. That means that just 5 years later, he’d gone from 9 to 90 feet tall. I asked her if in ’94, he was just a boy, and had grown, or if God had replaced him because I was more of a handful to look after!!
Two years after this crash, I was involved in another one, that should have killed all of us in the car. I wasn’t driving again (phew!) – my great friend Tim Herbert was – and it was on the road from Beira to Chiomoio in Mozambique – but that’s a whole other story!!
Jonathan and Kathryn had been trying to sell their car, with no success – it was aging, and a bit rusty….. instead, they got – if my memory is good! – twice the amount from the insurance than they’d been trying to sell it for! So God blessed them in a most unexpected way as a knock-on from this most amazing day…..
(Kathryn, if you read this, want to add or correct anything I’ve written??!! Your side of the story would be good to have here!!)