A testimony from Perspectives' newsletter
My name is Eloi, I’m 19 years old, I’ve been a Christian since around June 2019, and this is my testimony.
I’m currently studying for a BTS (equivalent to an HND in the UK) in Systems Maintenance. I started this in September 2018 when I was 17. In December of that year, I celebrated my 18th birthday and got my driver's license and my first car. On 5th April 2019 I had a motorway accident that changed my life. I was an atheist at the time...
To understand this change, I need first to explain about my life before the accident. At secondary school, I was quite often bullied by other students. When I got to college, the bullies were gone. And as a way of protecting myself, I decided to hang out with the rough kids... I’m sorry to say that I became a bully to avoid being a victim of mockery myself. I changed a lot at college and, like the vast majority of teenagers, was only really focused on one thing: my image... My results were dismal, my mother couldn't take it anymore, I was skipping classes, and I wasn't working in the run up to the French equivalent of A-level sciences. I just about managed to get through my retakes... But I still had this strong feeling of having just let my parents down during my time at college.
When I started my BTS, I kept the same attitude... But I met a guy called Adrien and getting to know him proved to be very important! I was still living as an immature young guy trying to impress others... But Adrien gradually became a good friend. I’d never met anyone like him before: a devoted and faithful friend who always thought of others before himself! Adrien was the ideal friend and we got along very quickly even though I was still playing at being a tough guy. I quickly trusted him and would now be willing to do anything for him!
Although I study for my BTS in Orléans, my day-release job is 125km away in Bourges, so I often need to spend the night there. I make regular trips between Bourges and Orléans every week.
And so there I was on 5th April, returning from an exhausting week of study, barefoot because of the heat in my 1996 Saxo with no airbags. I was supposed to be giving a lift to a friend who did the same journey as me. But half an hour before I left, he told me that he wouldn’t be traveling with me that weekend. I was due home in about 10 minutes... But even though the road was quiet, I suddenly heard an explosion coming from my car. My immediate thought was that the engine had blown up but, a split second later, my car veered from left to right for three seconds and then headed straight for the ditch on my right. Everything happened so fast that I don't even remember braking... After swerving right towards the ditch, my car, which was travelling at 130km/h, went up onto the crash barrier that started at that precise spot... That meant that I flipped over half-a-dozen times, absorbing most of the energy from the crash, rather than ploughing straight into the ditch.
When a car flips over, you have a very frustrating feeling of powerlessness. You get shaken about like a rag doll waiting for it to end, but between every flip, when you're up in the air, everything slows down and you see the pieces of shattered glass flying in front of you in slow motion like in the road safety commercials.
Once my car finished flipping, it was upside down with me inside. Without really thinking, I undid my seatbelt. As I fell onto the inside of the car’s roof, I looked at my hands and saw blood dripping down from my head. It was as if somebody had emptied a bottle of water on my head, except that it was blood. I crawled out of my car and then a man came to help me and got me to lie down. As I looked at my right hand, I saw a piece of glass, the size of a thick 2-euro coin, embedded in my wrist. While one person called the emergency services, another person called my dad. When they arrived, I remember seeing my dad’s head over the paramedics kneeling around me. He looked at me as if he’d lost me; I’d never seen anyone look that way before! I gradually began to realize that if my life had ended that day, I wouldn’t have liked the image I’d have left, especially with my parents... So while I was being transported to hospital, I swore to change after my accident!
I got away with just seven stitches on my head, a bruise on my thigh, and lots of cuts on my arms. Two days after my accident I was driving again and a week later I was skiing... I got off very lightly compared to the state of the car!... The paramedics said I’d be bound to have nightmares as I remained conscious throughout the accident. But I only had one nightmare the day after the accident and no psychological scars to speak of...
When I first saw Adrien after my accident, he wanted to talk to me. He spoke to me about God and invited me to come to a young people’s group at his church. I wasn’t sure… but as I could see that he really wanted me to come, I agreed, but more to please him than anything else... The stereotypes I had about Christians were far from positive, but when I met this group of young people, I was blown away! All my prejudices proved completely wrong, and I began to wonder whether this could be a way to change my life and start over.
The next day I prayed for the first time in my life. It was at a football game. I was a defender and I hadn’t scored in a match for three years. I prayed that I might score a header. And I did – another miracle! Except that it was an own goal… But it still happened exactly as I’d imagined while praying! I understood that God hears my prayers, even if He doesn’t necessarily answer in the way I’d like!
That day was the day I decided to change my life. And this new life has been given me by God! It's amazing how much joy I’ve experienced since God has been in my life. My worldview, my life goals and my attitude towards others have completely changed. I decided to live more for others than for myself, much like Adrien and all the other Christians in the Romorantin church youth group.
I sincerely believe that God wanted this accident to happen to me, to allow me to follow the right path. He made me grow up and He saved me, and thanks to Him I became aware of my mistakes. I can't thank Him enough for what He did for me, but sharing my story is a way for me to show my gratitude.