A Message Of Hope
Chance Garcia shouldn’t be alive to tell his story or anyone else’s story. He should have died on July 13, 2014, when he took five bullets into his body. He knows it, his doctors know it, his family knows it, and I know it. And yet, Chance Garcia is very much alive today, and he knows that it is nothing short of a miracle…a miracle to him straight from God.
Although I wrote the first half of this article several months ago, I’ve been sitting on it for many reasons, but mostly because I was afraid, afraid that there was still that slight chance that Chance Garcia might not recover, might take a turn for the worse, might…I don’t know. I suppose, “Oh ye of little faith,” could be applied shamefully to my state of mind on that day when I made that first trek to visit with Chance after he was released from the hospital, but that’s all over now. Today, I finally think that it is time to let the rest of the world in on Chance’s miracle.
I do need to tell you that although I have chosen not to use the photos of Chance’s wounds when they were open, the photos of his scars are more graphic than I am actually comfortable with; however, I think they are necessary in helping you understand just how far this young man has come, both physically and mentally.
Written September 2014
Today, I traveled the few blocks that separate my home from the Garcia home to talk to Chance about just what this thing I’m calling his “miracle” means to him. First, however, I had to wait for Chance to finish with his physical therapy on the arm that still refuses to work. The photo I intended to take of the process never happened, simply because I couldn’t stand to look at the pain on the young man’s face.
Of course, by the time his arm was receiving the workout, home health had already visited Chance to treat his wounds with what I will call a wound vac, something the nurses use three times each week and will for a very long while since Chance’s 42 day stay in the hospital wasn’t nearly long enough for that healing to happen.
While I waited for the young man to finish, I visited with his mom, Sandra, who explained that Chance’s body is throwing clots but, thankfully, he has had filters inserted to catch them. She also has hopes that doctors will be able to reverse her son’s colostomy in the next year or so and maybe even reconstruct his three shattered ribs. For now, those ribs have been removed.
Finally, Chance was ready to talk to me, and the first words he uttered were, “I slipped away from God.”
I knew exactly what he meant. Up until the time Chance was 17, he was immersed in his church life, youth activities, and his walk with God.
“He would push me to get to church,” Sandra smiled.
Chance can’t exactly tell me what happened when he was 17 except that maybe suddenly he wanted to go out and experience things he had never experienced before. Of course, as usual, he began to run with the crowd that he should have avoided…mostly the drinking crowd, not really a drugging crowd at all.
The drinking continued to be a problem. “I began to think that I needed to drink to function.”
I had to dig further because no one is comfortable sharing his own weakness.
“I began to feel that there was no purpose to my life.”
Chance doesn’t know if it was a depression brought on by life, by alcohol, or by knowing he had stepped outside of God’s will for his life, but he thinks it was probably a combination of all of those factors that culminated on July 13, when he decided to do away with himself, something that he did not do and someone else almost did for him.
God apparently had other plans for Chance Garcia. That much is obvious.
Last week was Chance’s first day back with his congregation since he is homebound with orders to go only to his doctors’ appointments and to church. That didn’t stop him from rising into the pulpit where he said, “It feels good to be back home.”
Chance went on to thank everyone for prayers, visits, etc. and urged them not to ever take life for granted because no one knows when his last day will come.
“I am anxious to see what God has in store for me because I know He has it. I just don’t know what it is yet.”
Today Chance, never large in stature, is 25 pounds lighter, and he is in pain most of the time. However, his parents are so thankful that the 21 IVs he was once hooked to are gone, and their son is back home with them.
“The power of prayer is tremendous,” Sandra said to me with misty eyes, “And my strength to get through this came from the prayers that were prayed for us. I knew that God was right there beside us the whole time.”
Written February 2015(Please be warned. The photos in this segment show some awful scars that you may not want to see, but they are important to understanding how far Chance has come.) chance
Today, it was with a much lighter step that I once again made my way to the Garcia home, where over the course of the past five months so much progress in the life of Chance Garcia has been made. Having kept up with his progress all along, I also knew that Chance had an announcement of sorts to make today, but I am getting ahead of myself because first I just wanted to talk.
Today, Chance met me at the door with the smile that was missing on our first visit. Gone are the medical apparatuses, not necessarily because he does not still need them, but because the Garcia insurance has maxed out on home health benefits. Instead, it has taught the family how to do the physical therapy on the arm that still doesn’t work quite right as well as how to dress the last wound.
“So is your insurance completely through paying for everything?” I asked Sandra, Chance’s mother.
“We really hope not because Chance has at least one more surgery to go, and he may have to have two. I’m not sure how we will pay for those without insurance.”
The first of those surgeries will hopefully happen about July, one year after Chance was injured, and it will be to reverse the colostomy that none of us actually believed would ever be reversed…that “Oh ye of little faith” thing again, you understand.
Chance will only know if he needs the second surgery after he is able to go back to work. At the moment he is minus three ribs. If he can move easily and function without them, there will be no surgery. If not, he will have to have them reconstructed in some way. Of course, he is beyond ready to get back to work!
“I want to try to go back to work within the next two or three months. I am really, really tired of being in the house. I’ve had a job since I was 17, and I want to get back to that as soon as possible,” the young man grinned, no longer emaciated and no longer carrying the PTSD stare that bothered me so badly the first time I sat him down and made him open up to me.
Chance has never been overly verbose, but today he was articulate and open as the words began to spill out about the suicide attempt gone very, very wrong.
“Most people never realize that they take life for granted, never really appreciating how precious life actually is. You think you have plans, and then one day…that’s all it takes…one day is all it takes…actually not even a day…just a few moments is all it takes to change your life forever.”
“I believe that God has a story that He wants me to tell. I’m not saying that I want to be a preacher, per se, but I do believe that I have a story that might help the kind of people who might not be willing to listen to a traditional preacher. I think maybe kids who are on the verge of getting into trouble might listen to me more than they would to someone else.”
And if you know Chance Garcia, the shy, soft-spoken Chance Garcia, you will know that this announcement is something akin to a miracle in itself. It was with that thought running through my mind that I turned to look at Sandra, only to see the tears running down her cheeks.
“I am so very thankful that God spared our son. As horrible as this has been, it has strengenthed our family and our faith. I’ve never felt so close to God because He was all we had. You always think about where you live, what you dirve, how much money you do or don’t have, but in the end, it just doesn’t matter. Nothing matters but how close you arer to God. Today, I never forget to tell my children that I love them and that God loves them because we all realize that every day might be our last.
“We also want to do everything we can to make sure that this never happens to another family here in Comanche. We would not have survived, had we not already had a strong faith in God, and that’s just the plain truth.”
Of course, there are problems that I’ve failed to mention.
“It’s my little brothers who were traumatized more than anyone.”
Andrew had just turned 15 and Moses was still 13 when the shooting happened. Andrew was unable to sleep for ages because of the gunshots in his head that would not go away. Moses has become the caregiver, and he still is in the hovering role, even sleeping with Chance so that he can take care of him.
The entire family remains in weekly counseling, both as a family and in individual sessions as well, but they are getting there, and that is something for which they are all thankful.
Obviously, Chance has more to his story than I have related here today but for now, Chance Garcia’s story is about the grace of God, a God who is still in the business of providing miracles to those He plans to use for His purpose. Chance Garcia tells me that he plans to allow that purpose to be used though his life and if that is the case, he will truly be a message of hope for someone or maybe even a lot of someones.
If you would like to ask Chance to speak to your group, you may contact him at 254-433-3123. He doesn’t pretend to be a dynamic public speaker, but he does have a story to tell.
May God Bless Him.