Walking by faith
In the early hours of December 31, 2002, Jack DeHart awakened in a fright, haunted by a terrible dream in which his daughter, Becky, and her husband, Dan, were in a car accident. Dan was dead.
Frightened out of bed, DeHart hit his knees in prayer, pleading for his daughter and son-in-law until he felt a release from that dread. Little did Becky and Dan know that a battle was being fought in intercession on their behalf.
Later that day the two were out driving — heading home for a New Year’s Eve celebration with their children — when they were hit by a young driver who was paying more attention to his new car stereo than to the road.
Dan suffered whiplash. He was battered and bruised, but Becky was seriously injured. She suffered the same type of spinal fracture that paralyzed actor Christopher Reeve, and doctors did not know if Becky would walk again.
Dan Dean — one third of the popular Christian music trio Phillips, Craig and Dean and pastor of Heartland Church in Irving, Texas — says his father-in-law’s dream was the first in a series of miracles that saved their lives and gave Becky the ability to walk again. Dean spoke recently with Assistant Editor Ashli O’Connell.
PE: Did you realize immediately the severity of Becky’s injury?
DEAN: No we didn’t, and that is part of the second miracle. Seconds after the accident a woman appeared at the side of the car. She said to my wife, “Honey, don’t move. I’m a nurse and you’re hurt.” My wife had already unbuckled her seat belt and was trying to get out of the car, but her neck was not stable. The lady being there so quickly probably saved her life.
In the ambulance about 20 minutes later, I heard a medic ask her, “Do your hands always do this?” He held them up and I could see they were curling up much like a paralyzed person’s hands do. I heard her say, “No, no, no.”
The third miracle occurred when a member of our church was driving by. He did not recognize the cars, but he heard the Lord say to him that he knew the people in that accident and he needed to pull over and pray. We figured out later that it was the same time that her hands began to relax and she regained control of her breathing.
PE: At any point was there concern that she might not live?
DEAN: No. We knew early on that this was not life-threatening. The fear was that she might be paralyzed.
We have a wonderful church, and there were hundreds of people at the hospital in the prayer chapel praying for her. Within a couple of hours my wife had this incredible peace that everything was going to be OK.
PE: How long was Becky in the hospital?
DEAN: She was in the hospital for five days and then confined to a hospital bed for three months. Fortunately we were able to bring the hospital bed home, and we had some wonderful people in our church who cared for her around the clock for three months.
PE: What kind of an impact did this have on you?
DEAN: At first I kind of withdrew. I found myself not wanting to go into the room where my wife was because I felt so guilty. My kids needed their mother, and I was afraid I had caused them to lose her for this time. I went through a whole gauntlet of emotions.
PE: Did you ever blame God?
DEAN: I didn’t ever blame God, but I kept looking for the test I thought He wanted us to pass. I was trying to figure out what He was trying to teach us. And I think we did learn some great lessons.
PE: Tell me about those lessons.
DEAN: One is that you have to cherish the moments you have together. We were so wrapped up in the work of ministry that it consumed us. We have since determined we are going to take time out for each other and for our family.
I think my wife and I have learned to hold things a lot more loosely. When you’re faced with your own mortality you really understand that God is in control. You learn to trust Him. You learn to quit trying to do everything on your own.
PE: What effects did this have on your ministry?
DEAN: The first month really affects your emotions. Especially if you’re an emotional person, which I am. It was a struggle to get into the pulpit. After about a month I continued to go out and do dates for PCD. It was a struggle. But when I would get up to minister, there was a supernatural grace I felt on my life. This allowed me to share the testimony with a lot of people. At first it was incredibly difficult. But there was also a great anointing to reach out and help other people who were going through something difficult.
PE: How is Becky doing today?
DEAN: She is incredible. It’s a divine miracle. I would say she’s not 100 percent yet, but she’s about 90 percent. The first year she was out of commission. She spent about three months in the brace, three months doing rehabilitation and then the last part of that year was spent just trying to get back into the groove in life. But she’s back now.
PE: And you’re back on the road with a new CD?
DEAN: Yes. This is the third praise and worship CD. It’s a group of songs that we prayed about and went through a very long process deciding what should be included. It’s probably a more upbeat album than we’ve done before. There’s something about the title cut, “Let the Worshippers Arise,” that is just passionate. We’re very excited about it.
PE: You make a point to not do Saturday evening concerts so you can be back in the pulpit on Sunday mornings. How do you balance touring, recording, pastoring and fathering?
DEAN: It’s a juggling act. We made a decision in the first year that we were not going to leave our churches and go full time. We all felt the burden for the local church — that we needed to be plugged in and keep that connection. We all serve on church staffs, and our churches were wise enough to realize that what God was doing through Phillips, Craig and Dean was quite remarkable as well, so they gave us the extra days off to do the traveling.
We stay busy, but we don’t allow ourselves to be slaves to the whole touring thing. We’re in our 14th year and as long as the platform is there we’ll continue to make music and sing songs that bless the church.
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