This is a testimony I’d posted on January 11, 2013, shortly after I’d first e-met Chris Cowans on the Gomer (Third Day Psycho Fan) Facebook page. A lot has happened since then. Through the Gomers, he met and married another Gomer friend of mine whose testimony is also on this blog—Cathy Payton (Cowans). I’ve had many opportunities to meet him myself and could tell you of his generosity to me and my fellow Gomer friends.Over this past year, Cathy revealed to us all that Chris was battling brain cancer, and that he wasn’t expected to live. And though many of us hoped and prayed for miraculous healing, God decided to take him home only a few days ago. We are heartbroken!
So what did I do (besides sob into my computer keyboard)? I decided to go back to this testimony and find the yellow brick road through Chris’s life, to see how he made his way to the wondrous city of heaven. I found gems there.Read below, through his bio, and discover “how God got his attention,” and also how he was called afterward. As I reread it, I was struck by how God used death to bring life (ie. His co-worker and the lady in the hospital). In spite of loss and grief, there was also hope and rejoicing. This life is not the end.
Given, the number of hits this testimony has received since Chris’s death, I suspect that God will use Chris’s passing to bring even more life.The below is a frightening tale. But because of it, Chris will live with his Father God, who loves him deeply, for eternity! That’s a great story with a happy ending …
Chris Cowans - Wingnut Gomer
My name is Chris Cowans. On April 2, 1994, I was involved in an industrial accident in Kenai, Alaska, and my life was changed forever. Today, I am employed by the same oilfield service company in Texas as an instructor. In 1984 - 1998, I handled oilfield explosives as part of my normal daily business duties. I had been talking to one of my co-workers when an explosion occurred. I was thrown face down on the concrete floor. I remember hearing an enormous blast, seeing a flash, and feeling what seemed like a wind rush past me. I was dazed, but I did not ever lose consciousness. My first reaction was one of total disbelief. I knew there had been an explosion, but I could not comprehend how or why it had occurred.
I have always considered what I do in my job to be safer than driving to and from work every day. I maintain this same belief today.
After my mind realized an explosion had occurred, I thought I was dead, or soon would be. Five of us were within ten feet of the source. The sixth man in the building had just left the area. He was in the office portion of our building when it took place. All of the safety films I had ever watched concerning explosives gave me very little hope for any of us surviving the blast. The images of the video’s shattered mannequins raced through my mind.
I heard one of my co-workers yelling for us to get out of the building. I lifted my head and looked to my right to see this man hopping on one leg. His coveralls were in shreds from the waist down and his legs appeared to have large chunks of flesh torn from them. I could see the blood running from his open wounds and I knew he was seriously hurt. This man looked straight at me and said, "Chris, we have to get out of here." I muttered, "Yes, I know." It was at this point, I first realized I was still alive. I felt pain in my legs and back for the first time. We had a large overhead door open about 60 feet from us. The man with the injured legs started to hop towards it. I started crawling on my stomach using my elbows to pull me there. I was afraid to look at or attempt to use my legs. I did not know if I even had legs at this point. My co-worker and I made it outside.
I need to give you some background on the man with the injured legs. His name is Todd Adams. He had been working with me for over four years. I knew he was a Christian. He and I had numerous discussions over the years about his God and his God’s Word. I had attended a First United Methodist church as a child, but I had not attended any church for over twenty years. I was interested in the discussions we had about Jesus Christ, but I did not see eye to eye with everything we discussed. He said he believed everything as it appeared in the Bible, in other words, there were no contradictions of scripture. I had read some of the Bible before. I found what appeared to me to be many contradictions in the scriptures. I could not follow this line of thinking. I believed in a God who was an all-loving, merciful God. I could confess my sins on my deathbed and all would be forgiven. After the explosion occurred, my eyes and ears were opened to the truth.
Once outside the building I looked back into the shop and saw the hole in the wall caused by the explosion. It was 25 feet wide from the cement floor up to the roof line. The roof was also blown off the building in this same section continuing three-fourths of the way across. The explosion was a tremendous blast heard and felt up to ten miles away. Numerous large and small pieces of debris and shrapnel were thrown hundreds of feet. One large piece of metal, about three feet long, was thrown over a 70 foot tall stand of spruce trees that was 100 yards wide. It landed through the roof of a business next door. Another large piece of metal about seven feet long and weighing 250 lbs. was thrown into the ditch across the highway in front of another business about 300 yards away. Both of these pieces of metal were thrown hundreds of feet.
I also noticed my coveralls were in shreds from the waist down, but both of my legs and feet were still there. A fire started in close proximity to the hole in the wall. This fire gutted the entire office area and a portion of the shop area. I could see two more of my co-workers inside. One man, Jeff, sat on the floor rocking back and forth. He brought his hands up to his head every few moments. Jeff was about 65 feet from us. Another man lay on the floor about 20 feet in front of Jeff. He didn’t move. I could not recognize this man at this point. I could not see our other co-worker anywhere.
Todd and I called for our co-workers to get out of the building. There were more explosives present and the fire could cause them to blow. The two men we could see in the shop appeared to be too injured to help themselves or could not hear us. I asked Todd if he could reach the telephone a few feet from where we were located to call 911. He hopped several yards back into the shop and quickly returned to say the phone was no longer on the wall. He then stated he was going back in the shop to get the other men out. I looked at his bleeding legs. I knew this would not be possible for him to accomplish in his current condition. I watched him hop back into the shop while I got myself up to my feet and stumbled around the corner to where the phone should have been. The phone had indeed been blown off of the wall. I returned to the spot outside and lay back down on the ground. A man came running out of the woods behind our building. He said he lived in a trailer nearby and wanted to know what had happened. I told him to call 911 and the fire department. He immediately turned around and ran back into the woods. Dave, another co-worker who had been in the office during the moment of the explosion, came running around the back of the building. He said, "Oh, my Lord! What happened?" I told him that we had an explosion and four men were still inside the building. We needed to get them out immediately and evacuate the area. He ran into the shop with the man who had just returned from the woods.
Todd had managed to drag the injured man lying on the floor, Rick, closer to the open doorway. He then assisted Jeff who was still sitting on the floor. Jeff is about 6’ 5" tall and 250 pounds. Todd’s legs were just about to give out on him at this point. Todd called on the name of Jesus to give him the strength to help his injured co-worker. At this point, help had started to arrive. Dave had flagged down some passing motorists to help us out. Dave and the man from the woods helped Rick and myself nearer to the road and further from the building. They helped Todd out to the road. Two other men driving by the building helped carry Jeff out of the building on a board. The fire department had arrived at this point. Two acquaintances of mine arrived on the scene. Both of these men had performed this same type of work with explosives, but they did not work for the company I am employed with. They just happened to be passing by at the time of the accident. I told them the names of all of the employees present. The acquaintances passed this information on to the emergency response personnel. One man was still unaccounted for. I also informed these two men of the dangers still present with the fire and explosives in the building. They passed this information on also, and the emergency personnel were pulled back after a sweep of the shop area and a brief attempt to fight the fire.
One of these acquaintances covered me with his coat while I lay on the snow covered ground and held my hand. I saw Todd having a tourniquet applied to one of his legs by a woman who had stopped. It turned out she was a nurse and drove my friend to the hospital at breakneck speed before the ambulances arrived. He called to me saying; "I don’t know what happened, Chris." I responded, "I don’t know either." Rick was now lying on the ice beside me. The man from the woods was talking to him and trying to comfort him. I could see Rick talking to the man and that he was bleeding from the face. I told him the ambulances would be here soon. I do not know if he heard me. I kept asking about the missing man and Jeff, whom I could not see from my position on the ice. I was not a man given over to a steady prayer life, but I felt that, if there was a God, maybe He could help my friends. I began to pray for my friends and co-workers to all be found alive and to thank God for sending all of the help he had provided.
My fourth grade public elementary reading teacher taught my class the 23rd Psalm back in Decatur, Indiana, during the years 1969-1970. I do not think I understood the significance of the words to this beautiful Psalm during that time. I had not even thought of this Psalm for over 20 years. But while I was lying on the ice praying to God for my friends to be all right, this Psalm popped into my head just as clear and fresh as if I had been reading the words. I felt the Spirit of God descend upon me and immediately the Spirit gave me peace and comfort. I knew I would be all right, and that He was in control of the situation.
The ambulances soon arrived and we were all transported to the hospital in Soldotna, Alaska, about 15 miles away. Jeff and Rick were soon flown to Anchorage hospitals by emergency medical helicopters. Jeff had suffered two skull fractures, the loss of both eardrums, third degree burns on his neck, numerous cuts and bruises. He had a scoop of flesh removed from the back of his skull. Rick had lost the lens to one eye, severe burns to his wrists, second degree burns to his head, neck and face, damage to one eardrum, numerous cuts and bruises. He had a large portion of flesh removed from one thigh and had shrapnel in his leg. Todd had two broken legs and numerous cuts and bruises. His eardrum was also damaged. One leg was severely broken in the knee area. He now has screws and wire holding the bones together. It is simply a miracle he was able to walk at all and rescue his fellow workers. Dave suffered damage to his hearing and smoke inhalation. He was treated at the hospital and released.
I received second degree burns to my neck, head, face and wrists. My right eardrum was perforated and the left eardrum was largely gone. I was cut and badly bruised from head to toe. Some shrapnel punctured my thigh. The doctor felt leaving the shrapnel in place would be the best treatment as he felt the shrapnel would never work itself out of the leg. Four weeks after the accident this shrapnel had moved to the surface of my thigh and was removed in a simple procedure. I discovered fifteen years after the accident that my L5 vertebrae had been broken at the time when a doctor showed it to me on an x-ray.
My friend and co-worker, Craig’s, body was found the next morning after the fire had burned itself out. It was determined that he was killed instantly. I was saddened by the news, but thankful he did not suffer.
I was kept in intensive care the first night in the hospital to monitor my oxygen level and see if I had inhaled any dangerous flames or fumes. I looked in the mirror the next morning and was shocked to see my reflection. My face was black and swollen from the burns. My eye brows, eye lashes, and most of my hair were gone. I had wood chips and other debris melted into the remainder of my hair. I knew who I was, but I certainly did not recognize the man looking back at me.
I was allowed to take a shower on the third day at the hospital. The water felt so wonderful I stayed in it for an hour and a half, savoring every moment. I never before realized how important and wonderful the little things in life are.
My wife was finally able to bring my two and a half-year-old daughter to visit me in the hospital on the fourth day. My daughter marched into the room, looked at my swollen face, covered with Silvadene cream, jumped up on the bed, and gave me a big hug. She didn’t see a burned face and injured body. She saw her Daddy and my heart leapt with joy.
My co-worker with the broken legs and I were released after five days in the hospital. During this time I received many visits from friends and strangers. I had numerous visits from church friends of my injured co-worker. I knew some, but not all of these people. Their love, generosity, and compassion touched me. Two instances, which occurred in the hospital, stand out in my mind. The day I was released, a new nurse was sent in to my room to tend to my injuries. While she was cleaning my burns and applying fresh dressings, she asked me if I knew Jesus. This got my mind to thinking. Did I know Jesus? I had been told of Jesus as a child. I had been told Jesus loved me. But, did I really know Jesus? I couldn’t give her a good answer. I told her I knew of Jesus, but it had been a while since I had been to church or thought about him. She told me Jesus could help me in my road to recovery. One day before I was released, a woman came into my room. She appeared to be in her mid-thirties and was dressed in a hospital gown. She was a patient at the hospital also. She said she had heard of the accident. She told me to put my faith in the Lord Jesus and he would take care of me. She left the room and I never saw her again. Her picture was in the obituary column the next day. She had died that night. I believe the paper stated she had died of cancer. My mind started to think about the direction my life had been taking and where I needed to be in my walk with God.
Two days after I was released from the hospital, I was home alone taking one of my wonderful showers. My wife had dance rehearsal for a jazz performance and my daughter was at the baby sitters, as I could not yet move very fast to take care of an energetic two-year-old. Jeff and Rick remained in the Anchorage hospitals in serious condition. They were both scheduled to have major surgeries the next morning. Funeral services were to be held for Craig the next day also. I started to pray in the shower with everything I knew and felt to do for God to watch over my friends and their families while having their surgeries. I also prayed for God to give Craig’s family comfort in their time of grief and sorrow. I don’t know how long I was standing there in the shower praying. I suddenly felt enormous warmth passing through my body from head to toe. I was tingling all over my body. I do not really know how to describe this feeling other than wave after wave of pure love. I felt an overwhelming joy and peace fill me completely up. I knew I was in the presence of God. God started to speak to me. He said, "I want you to tell people to love one another. I have given you a gift in your knowledge of computers. I want you to use that gift in telling people your story and about me." I couldn’t believe God was talking to me. I was crying for joy. I told him I would do as he asked. I got out of the shower and was drying off with a towel. I felt as if I was walking ten feet off of the ground. I did not understand how, why or what had happened to me. I knew I was a changed person from this point on in my life. I felt different than I had ever felt in my life. It was a wonderful, indescribable feeling of peace and joy. I knew God was in control of my life. I was so happy and ready to face the world.
As I was toweling off, the phone rang. I answered the phone and a man’s voice on the other end of the line asked if Chris was home. I told him I was Chris. He told me he was Craig’s father, John. I had never met this man before. John proceeded to tell me that neither he nor anyone in his family had any feelings of animosity towards me or any of the other men working the day of the accident. He said his son had spoken very highly of all of us and about how happy he had been with his job. He liked getting up in the morning for work. Craig had recently gotten his own apartment that he shared with his wife and eighteen-month-old son. John stated how happy his son had been with everything coming together in his life. I was so happy to hear the words this man spoke. I was very choked up, but I finally managed to get out a few words. I told John he had so much to be proud of in his son. It had been a real pleasure to have known and worked with his son. I hung up the phone shaking my head. I could not believe this was happening.
The next day, my wife and I attended the funeral of my young friend. There were over 400 people at the funeral service—standing room only. The funeral service was the most touching I had ever witnessed. It was a celebration of life, not a sorrowful event. I met Craig’s father at the service. John got up before the crowd of people and said many of the same things he had told me the night before. He shared how God had touched him on a plane flying back from his job in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. God had told him not to worry or to grieve, for his son was with him. I pray this is the case. Craig’s young wife read some of their favorite poems. God had given both of them the words and the strength to touch all of those present at the service. I felt God was reaching for me, and I knew I must learn more about him.
I accepted an invitation from my friend, Rahn , to come to a service at his church. Rahn had a similar position as mine in a different department for the same employer. He attended the same church as Todd. Immediately, upon walking through the doors of the church I could feel I was in the right place. I felt as if I was returning home after a long period of being gone. I was very comfortable there. The song service before the teaching was very uplifting and joyous. Everyone clapped and raised their hands in praise to God. I had never been in a church where anyone raised their hands to God, gave personal testimonies, prayed out loud (except for the preacher) or spoke in tongues. It was remarkably refreshing to observe people truly praising and worshipping God with all their might.
I accepted an invitation to attend a church service with another co-worker at a different church. The service was nice, but it lacked the Spirit present at the first church. I decided to start attending services at the first church. This is the Apostolic Assembly of Jesus Christ in Soldotna, Alaska. Our pastors are Alice and Buck Martin.
I have learned more about Jesus since my rebirth. I realize there is so much more to learn. Each day brings new opportunities to grow in God according to His perfect will. God's Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to understand His Word (by having the mind of God). The Word comes alive and teaches life's lessons for every situation. Thank you Jesus, for your wisdom and mercy.
A short time after I began attending the Apostolic Assembly of Jesus Christ, God opened a door to help a brother, Tom Raddatz, with a Bible study project. Tom had written a Bible study about six years prior to the accident that was entitled “The Commandments of God and the Traditions of Men.” He had not yet published the works, as God had not yet made the way. God has given Tom a gift to write. Tom felt it was time to put the Bible study and his other writings, on the Internet. I was asked to assist him in this endeavor. I am by no means a computer expert. I enjoy working with computers very much. God has made it easy for me to learn, work, and understand software and computer hardware. I bought some books on HTML coding to increase my knowledge of creating web pages. I put together the web pages and put them on-line for Tom. I spent several years assisting Tom with editing, spell checking, and posting other letters and studies that he had written until he moved from Alaska to Ohio.
I left Alaska in 2007 after my father had passed away from a 3 ½ year fight with cancer. My mom began having health problems from the stress in dealing with his illness. I decided to move closer to my family in order to visit and help more frequently than I could from Alaska. My mom’s health has improved from what it was then and I was offered an instructor’s position with my employer in the Dallas area. I moved to Dallas in 2008 and began teaching our employees about explosive safety, oilfield math, and oilfield hydraulics calculations. I get to travel to different places around the world and the U.S. as part of my job. I have been to Cairo multiple times, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Scotland. I begin the classes I teach with a PowerPoint presentation with photos taken in the days after the accident. I am able to share with people from all over the world, the miracles that God performed on that day and the days following. This has opened the door on numerous occasions for deeper discussions about Jesus and His Word.
Today, there are almost no visible signs of the injuries I sustained in this accident. My hearing is pretty good and is considered normal within conversational tones and frequencies. I believe this to be a miracle considering the abuse my ears sustained. There are virtually no signs of any burns on my face or wrists. My body is healed, and best of all God is healing and preparing my soul for an eternal life with Him.
I began listening to Third Day shortly after the explosion occurred. I became a huge fan of their music which I find to be uplifting, full of God's Love and His Amazing Grace. I did not get the opportunity to see Third Day live until I moved to Texas in 2008. Now, I try to see them anytime they are close to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and I am not traveling on business.
I thank our Lord Jesus for the love and mercy He has shown me. I also thank Him for the opportunities He gives to me to help spread His Word.
Thank you, Jesus!
Chris has a daughter with one grandson, and two step-children. He works as a Principal Technical Instructor in the oil industry. He did work as an elementary school classroom teacher in Alaska for 8 years. He also taught 8th grade science in North Carolina for one year. He is a co-leader of a 9th grade boys Discipleship Group at his church in Colleyville, TX, and has moved up grade levels with this group of young men the previous two school years.
Other posts you might like:
Do You Ever Feel Your Offering to God is Too Small?
I’m Not Able On My Own
Why I Want to be Broken