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Real-life stories: Involved in drugs and/or alcohol abuse or dependancy

Terrible Accident Leaves Tree Worker A Tetraplegic

An exceptional story of a young man who had life as he knew it cut off in its prime when critically injured in an horrific accident, how he struggled to come to terms with spending life as an invalid in a wheelchair, and an astonishing recollection of when the Holy Spirit visited in such a wave of heat that his fire alarm wondrously went off and then mysteriously refused to stop.


Ken Fish’s story begins in 1973 when he was an active 20 year-old tree surgeon fulfilling the needs of the arboricultural environment. In those pre health-and-safety days there was no official requirement to use a safety harness, so in its absence any slip of hand or foot could have calamitous consequences.

This is precisely what happened. Fifty feet up a tree disaster struck. Ken lost his footing. He rocketed earthward at a rate of knots. Head-first he plunged into the rock-hard pavement below.

Rushed to hospital the surgeons operated on his battered brain and body but it was touch and go as to whether he would even survive. Against all odds his tenacious spirit and zest for life brought him through the horrendous ordeal.

He won his fight for life, but was now forced to face the future without the use of his legs, legs that had so loved climbing trees. At a twist of life’s cruel fate he had become tetraplegic.

In attempting to escape from the restricting chains of his newly limited existence it was hardly surprising that Ken sought solace in drink and cigarettes.

But it was while living at St Giles, a home for younger handicapped people that used to be in Lancing, Ken met a particular group of visitors who became life-long friends, visitors from the United Reformed Church in Shaftesbury Avenue, Goring which they attended at that time.

When in 1976 they heard about a healing meeting coming up at Eastbourne run by Peter Scothen, they felt they just had to go. On a very bad November night tipping with rain they drove there with others from the URC.

At the religious gathering Peter prayed earnestly for Ken to receive the Holy Spirit. But nothing appeared to happen. Others, however, were converted and became Christians that night. And after a very worthwhile evening the group made their way back home.

Not until the following evening did a thoroughly fascinating event take place. Ken went to bed as usual and reflected on the effects of the healing meeting and prayed to God: “What’s this all about?”

Suddenly a wave of hot air rushed over him. “Like you get when you open a hot oven.” And he was enveloped by an intense heat of expectant excitement.

So powerful was this surge of fieriness that the sensor outside his room set the fire alarms off.

With all the fire bells in the entire home ringing Ken started praying in tongues, something he’d never done nor indeed never heard before. “I wondered what it was.”

But that wasn’t the end of the incident. The fire brigade arrived and having established there was no actual fire tried to turn off the alarms. Under normal circumstances that wouldn’t have been a problem. They tried everything but the danger-signals refused to stop ringing, until, in desperation, they decided to disconnect Ken’s sensor.

The incessantly reverberating fire-alarm-bells finally fell silent. The alert was now over.

Experienced staff as well as professional firemen had been totally powerless against the potential of the Holy Spirit.

This divine intervention of the Holy Spirit had a profound effect on Ken’s Life. He stopped drinking and smoking immediately. His battle against the devil’s demons of alcohol and nicotine had been won. “I used to drink 20 pints a day and smoke 40 cigarettes a day.”

But over the years he drifted and started drinking again. “A bottle of Scotch a week and a few pints of ale.” He finally gave up in 1989 when he was baptised in the sea off Goring. “I’m now teetotal.”

Ken came to rely on and praise God permanently. “Life without Jesus would be unbearable.” He’d done amazingly well since being cut off in his prime as a young man at the beginning of his professional life, and had finally come to terms with his disability.

For the rest of his life Ken’s devotion to the Saviour was to be openly demonstrative of a man with a mission, a converted inspiration to others, for throughout all his remaining years so many people were to be touched by this kindly gentle man.

Ironically, if he’d never had the accident he wouldn’t have become a Christian, but he’s so glad that he did. Given the choice of having a relationship with Jesus in a wheelchair or being fully abled but without Jesus, there was no contest. “I would rather have the Lord than my legs!”

Within days of this story being written Ken went into hospital for a routine operation and while recovering there passed away unexpectedly.

Sad as it may be for those who were close to him, it is a joyous time for them too, for now that he is in heaven he has indeed got both the Lord and his legs -- forever.

And Ken would be as pleased as Punch to know that here on Earth his tremendous testimony has been recorded for perpetuity as a shining example to others afflicted by disability, disability of any degree, never to give up but to seek God.


Ken Fish, 3 July 2008

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