I Prayed I Would Die
by Ken Horn
The year 1954 was a great one for 19-year-old Ken George. He was married, licensed to preach and took the pastorate of his first Assemblies of God church in Ferndale, Calif. He felt he was on top of the world.
But his life would suddenly hit rock bottom.
Late at night on Memorial Day 1954, Ken and his young wife, who was expecting their first child, were driving down the Redwood Highway in northern California. Unknown to him, a car was speeding their way. Its headlights were off. As it rounded a curve, it slid across the center divider directly into the path of George's vehicle. The cars hit head on with devastating impact. Ken was propelled through the jagged windshield as the car was compacted. His wife had been asleep in the passenger seat. She and the unborn baby were killed instantly, as was the other driver.
Ken himself hovered near death with internal injuries, a severe concussion and a crushed hip. His face, shredded by the jagged windshield glass, had 60 stitches sewed into it - half the number needed since he was not expected to live. But he did live, as Christians across the nation went into intercession.
In those dark days in the hospital, Ken realized what he had lost. His wife of only 10 months, his child - and now the doctors wanted to amputate the badly mangled left leg. Feeling he had nothing to live for in his weak moments, "I prayed I would die," he says. "The devil would tell me that the flowers that people had sent me were my own funeral flowers."
But Ken rallied, desperately holding on to God to get him through. "I thought there was no way that I could survive," he says. "But I would ask the Lord for help, and night after night He would come amid the pain and suffering and minister to me. He gave me strength to come through."
Ken had been an athletic standout, competing in track with top-flight athletes, including Olympic champion Rafer Johnson. He couldn't bear the thought of losing his leg. Doctors told him he would never walk on it again; and, if kept, it would be a source of lifelong pain. Repeatedly they placed the release form for the amputation in front of him; each time he refused to sign.
Now weighing only 129 pounds, Ken was far too weak to undergo a serious operation. Doctors advised him to go home with his parents to New Mexico to gain strength.
Forced to resign his church, Ken could not even return to tell his congregation goodbye. His father, Roy George, preached his farewell sermon for him.
Leaving his ministry was one more burden in the weight of his trial. Ken had been called to preach on his 12th birthday and had been active in ministry ever since. He was first credentialed at only 16 years of age. Now, along with everything else he had lost, it seemed that ministry was gone too.
When Ken was strong enough for surgery, bone surgeons cut his leg apart and reconstructed it, using a surgical procedure that was later banned. The leg did not respond and began to atrophy. Painful physical therapy was a desperate attempt to keep the leg from dying. But it continued to wither and now arthritis set in, drawing it up until it was far shorter than his other leg.
Ken gained strength gradually but was severely hobbled. When a trio of young evangelists came to the church his father pastored, God began to move. As he saw people touched and healed night after night, Ken refused to go forward. "I was determined not to go forward for prayer and walk out on crutches," he says. "If I felt the Lord wanted me to go forward for prayer, I would give up my crutches and crawl out if I had to."
The night came when Ken knew it was his time. "I stood in the prayer line," he says. "When it came my time, I handed my crutches to my father and he tossed them over on the platform. I stood with all my weight on my right leg and they anointed me with oil and prayed. While they were praying, the Spirit touched me. I began to raise my feet back and forth, kind of walking in place. Then I began to realize that I was raising up my right leg, so that meant all my weight was on the left one. And it was not collapsing so I began to walk. I even ran a little, jumped a little. From that day to this I have not picked up a set of crutches."
Ken felt he was ready to minister again and attempt to launch an evangelistic career - with less than sterling results. Letters to all of his father's friends netted just one postcard - from the pastor of a tiny church who told Ken he wasn't even sure he could pay his expenses. Undaunted, Ken boarded a Greyhound bus with his trombone and traveled to Cisco, Texas.
As people were saved and dramatic healing occurred, the crowds grew and it became necessary to move into the city auditorium. Those four weeks launched Ken into a national ministry. He and his brother, Don, later formed the George Gospel team, which included Ken's new wife, Patsy.
J. Don George, who today pastors Calvary Temple Assembly of God in Irving, Texas, remembers the tragedy as "a tremendous attack upon my own faith." Don spent long hours at his brother's bedside in the hospital. Today he credits Ken with the inspiration he needed to resuscitate his faith in the midst of the trial.
Ken went on to pastor churches in Colorado, Oregon, Texas and most recently, First Assembly of God in Albuquerque N.M. (today known as First Family Church) where he spent 19 years. Seven years ago, he became superintendent of the New Mexico District.
In 1993, Ken went in for a full physical. When the bone specialist mounted the X-rays of Ken's hip, he was astounded. He began asking Ken questions: "Can you walk any distance?"
"Absolutely," Ken said. "I play golf, hunt and fish."
"Do you climb stairs with both feet on the same level?"
"I climb stairs like anyone else would."
The doctor was astonished because the X-rays revealed the outlawed procedure. He could not believe that Ken had been functioning normally for 40 years after such an operation. Today Ken still has a visible limp, with one leg an inch shorter; but the limp is simply a reminder of God's mercy and miracle working power. It has not impaired his life in the least.
With a lovely wife, two beautiful daughters, two granddaughters and a rich, full ministry, Ken says he has much to thank the Lord for. Though once Ken prayed to die, today, 46 years after the accident that changed his life, he says, "God has given me much to live for. I can never thank Him enough."
Ken George serves as an example to those who are tempted to quit or withdraw because of great trials. No matter how bad your circumstances look, don't give up. Though satan wants you down and out, when God is for you, nothing can stop you from fulfilling His will for your life.
"Reprinted by permission of the Pentecostal Evangel."