Critically Injured Pastor Returns to the Pulpit

A year and a half after sustaining a catastrophic brain injury and severe physical injuries in a car crash, Rev. Wes Collins preached his first post-accident sermon at Riverside Christian Reformed Church in Wellandport, Ont.

Currently on disability leave, Collins is preaching twice a month as part of his recovery plan, mapped out in consultation with his therapists, the insurance company, and the church.

Collins said this step comes as a natural part of his drive to continue with life. “I came to the realization that there were some roadblocks in the way, like my inability to walk and my inability just to do some basic things: learning to eat, learning to walk, learning to go up and down stairs,” he said. “In the back of my mind was one day I would go back to my life prior to the accident and so, with the support of many people, I just had to get through those roadblocks.”

Collins’s wife, Stephanie, who was also injured in the August 2014 crash but sustained less severe injuries, has helped manage Wes’s recovery, driving him to therapy and doctor’s appointments and filing continuing insurance paperwork.

The council of Riverside CRC has stood by their pastor from the time of the accident, filling its pulpit with the support of Classis Niagara (a regional group of churches) and later with interim pastor Charles Van Hoffen. Recently the council shared the news of Collins’s current condition with a letter to all of classis.

“As members of the Riverside congregation, we have seen God at work through Pastor Wes and Steph throughout their whole recovery,” the letter said. “Given the circumstances, they could have been cursing God for all the pain and suffering they were feeling. They instead praised God and therefore were witnesses of God’s great power to their doctors, caregivers, therapists, and congregation.”

Collins will continue preaching and have bimonthly meetings with the church, his therapeutic team, and the insurance company advising on next recovery steps.

About the Author

Alissa Vernon is a news editor at The Banner.

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