Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Brian Sakultarawattn will be our guest speaker this upcoming Sunday, June 29th. So I thought I'd include this account of his and Haley's testimony in my blog.

"It was the stuff movies are made of. Handsome, strong, athletic, 19-year-old Brian Sakultarawattn hiked the mountains with his best friend, 18-year-old Haley Havlik. She had packed their lunch, and the two were excited to be breathing in the fresh Oregon air. They laughed, panted, and half-ran to the very top of the mountain, then paused to thank God for the beauty he'd created.

While Haley packed the remains of their lunch back into the basket, Brian reached into his backpack and pulled out a miniscule box. When Haley turned around, he was on one knee and had opened the box.

"I always want to take care of you," he said. "Will you marry me?"

Brian had already cleared his intentions with Haley's parents and promised he and Haley wouldn't set an immediate date for the wedding. After Haley said yes, she and Brian talked about a year-and-a-half engagement. They hiked down the mountain as happy as two people in love with God and each other could be. Little did they know their world was about to change forever.

Tuesday, December 26, 1995-a day Brian and Haley would never forget.

Brian was working at Teen Trees International, a tree farm near his home in St. Helens, Oregon. He had been learning forestry management skills there for the past two years. Brian and his supervisor tossed a few loads of discarded paper into a burn barrel in the parking lot and watched it burn. Dan left for lunch, and Brian guarded the fire alone.

When the flames shot above the barrel's rim, Brian glanced around the shop for a bucket of water to dowse the fire. But as soon as he tossed the contents of the bucket onto the flames, the fire erupted with a mighty BOOM.

Brian had mistakenly grabbed a bucket of gasoline instead of water.

Hours later, Haley, her family, and Brian's family listened as the surgeon approached them with the news that Brian had miraculously survived. Even though 94 percent of his body had been grotesquely burned, Brian was alive. But the handsome, dark-skinned, athletic young man was no longer even recognizable.

Brian learned fast that true identity cannot be established on anything other than a close relationship with Jesus Christ.

During the next several months, the burn staff had to reconstruct Brian's exterior shell. Using skin from cadaver and grafts from what little skin Brian had left, surgeons stapled together an intricate quilt of skin.

This blanket of cadaver skin was just temporary; it bought the physicians enough time to have Brian's own skin grown in a lab from a small graft. When his new skin arrive, cut into squares the size of mini Post-It notes, doctors repeated the grueling process of scraping off the old skin and stitching on the new.

To keep Brian alive, surgeons had to sacrifice his infected limbs. His forearms were amputated, part of his left leg was gone, and he was still in danger of losing his right foot. He endured 19 surgeries during the several months he was at the Oregon Burn Center. Three weeks after the accident, Brian regained consciousness.

He later lost his vision.

What about the engagement? Haley had a big decision to make. When she promised to spend the rest of her life with Brian, he was everything she'd ever dreamed of-physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Things were different now.

But Haley's response? "It just doesn't matter to me how Brian looks on the outside," she said. "He's still the same on the inside. I still see that boyish smile. I still share the dream of someday raising a family."

Two years after the accident, Brian and Haley were married. Brian wears his wedding ring on a chain around his neck, and the doctors say he can father a child. "I thank God every day for another chance to live," he says. "I especially thank him for Haley. Someday we'll have kids!"

The community rallied around the young couple and collected enough funds to build them a special home with ramps for Brian's wheelchair. And today, seven years after the accident, Haley still doesn't question her commitment to Brian. She knows true beauty comes from the soul and real identity comes from a solid relationship with the Creator."

Genesis 1:26-27, 31 Romans 12:2-5
Genesis 2:7 Romans 13:9


Bob & Diane West said...

Everyone who reads this Blog should consider forwarding to someone, along with an invitation to this Sunday’s service. Come on guys…


Anonymous said...

Hey I just wanted to say that brians story is one to rember.I meet brian when I was about 13 at alpin boys ranch.His parents had him come and tell us his story.It has stuck with me ever since im now 23 and currently in iraq.I use his teaching to help me get by.

From Michael kiick
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