On August 25th, I set out with a group of church planters and bikers on an exciting 7,000 mile, church planting road trip that would take us from Pennsylvania to Seattle and back again. We set off with the goal to encourage church planters all around the nation to make the leap into starting a new, local church. Two days later, on August 27th, our goals became very different as we found ourselves praying for God to spare the life of our friend and pastor, Gerry Stoltzfoos. The morning of the accident, we had split up (as any Scooby Doo gang would) to complete some repairs on one of the other bikes that was having trouble. Gerry had gone to the local motorcycle dealership to pick up a part that we needed to finish the repairs, but as we waited for Gerry to meet up at the agreed upon rendezvous, we began to be concerned. We began tracing any possible route Gerry may have taken because we had no idea where he may have gone. With God’s help, we came upon an intersection filled with police cars where we found his bike, lodged under a tractor trailer. Gerry had already been taken by ambulance to the hospital. We were given very little hope for him.
We serve an amazing, miracle-working God who did miracles left and right as His people began praying!!
The night before his accident, I felt impressed to snap a picture of each of the riders that were on the trek with us. In Chicago’s setting sun, I snapped a picture of each bike and rider. I managed to capture an epic picture of Gerry riding his signature Harley with his finger pointing directly at the camera. Little did I know that that picture would become a flash point for so much prayer in the days and weeks of recovery that laid before him.
I recall that my very first discernible prayer was “Please God, don’t let that picture be the last picture of Gerry on earth!” I believe God took that prayer very seriously as those first few moments passed. Within minutes, family and church staff were notified of the accident and in a very short matter of time, people all across the country began to lift Gerry up in prayer with great passion and precision!
A semi-truck pulled out in front of Pastor Gerry…leaving him in the ER with bleeding in his brain and an unclear future.
Julie, his wife, hurriedly joined us in Chicago and kept a constant prayer vigil at his hospital bedside. His immediate family quickly followed Julie and the remainder of what came to be called, “The Furious Five,” stayed on to assist Julie and the Stoltzfoos family with encouragement and care. I cannot adequately describe the intense reality of living under the prayer covering all of you were producing in those days directly after the accident, but each of us knew that God was restoring Gerry with miracle after miracle. Each day brought encouraging news in spite of the possibility of long-term brain injury.
The picture I had snapped quickly made its rounds on Facebook as people posted and reposted it as a reminder to pray for complete healing. Many churches in Gettysburg prayed together for Gerry the following Sunday. His own church family and network, Freedom Valley, organized an overnight prayer vigil to cry out for the completion of Gerry’s healing and restoration, physically, spiritually and mentally.
I am pleased to report that as of the end of September, Gerry received a clean bill of health from his physicians and is back in the pulpit, teaching God’s Word with
passion and integrity! It is my conviction that without the prayers of God’s people, the outcome could have been very different.
James 5:16 assures us that, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
I had the privilege of having a front row seat for a spectacular show of God’s power that came through the earnest prayer of righteous people who love Pastor Gerry. I will never stop thanking God for the wonderful results those prayers produced. On behalf of Gerry, the Stoltzfoos family, and every Freedom Valley Network pastor and partner, allow me to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts!