He almost died on Good Friday, found a miracle at Easter

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By Mark Ellis –

Ben Hylden (photo:benhylden.com)

Sixteen-year-old Ben Hylden was in a hurry to get to physical therapy stemming from a high school basketball injury.  Running late, he decided to take a shortcut down a gravel round from his farm in Park River, North Dakota.

“It was April, so there was still ice and snow on the road,” he told God Reports. “I lost control on a patch of ice, went down into a ditch head-on, and flipped my car into a field numerous times.”

It happened to be Good Friday.

Ben wasn’t wearing his seatbelt and got ejected through the passenger door, landing face-first in a field.

“At that moment my whole life shifted, everything changed in my life,” he recalls. “I was really into sports; I was an athlete, that was my identity in life. I thought that’s all there is to life.”

Ben playing basketball (photo:benhylden.com)

Ben said he had a strong faith in God when he was young, perhaps the strongest at seven-years-old. But by the time he arrived in high school, his relationship with God was tenuous at best.

“I wanted to fit in with everybody, to wear the right clothes. I grew up on a dairy farm and lived in a trailer as a kid growing up. I started comparing myself to everybody else. I got into sports and that became like an idol. It became super serious and super stressful.”

Spiritually, he was going through the motions. “God began to be something like a checklist. Okay, I went to church. Okay, I went to youth group. Okay, I went to Bible camp. Instead of actually knowing God and having a strong faith, it was more about works.”

He was also not on good terms with his parents. “I grew angry and stressed out because of the pressure of sports. I didn’t want to be on the farm working; I didn’t want to be milking cows. So we’d fight all the time, I’d be mad at them all the time. I just wasn’t in a good place. I was an angry person at that point in my life.”

Ejected violently from the car, lying helplessly, Ben wondered if anyone would find him. “It was a back road. No one takes that road because of the snow and ice,” he recounts. He had little hope.

When Ben face-planted into the dirt, he bit through his tongue. “I was swallowing all that blood and it went into my lungs instead of my stomach, so I was suffocating. I shattered my entire face, broke my nose into nine pieces. my palate broke in half, and I broke six ribs. My pancreas, small intestines, liver, lungs, and kidneys were all bruised and bleeding, and the artery in my right leg was crushed.” Later, it would be determined he also suffered a brain injury.

The car Ben was driving (photo:benhylden.com)

Ben actually attempted to crawl on his back toward home, using his elbows to move a few inches at a time, because he wanted to tell his parents he loved them before he died.

Then, improbably, God saw fit to mount a rescue for Ben on that Good Friday, using two unexpected people.

Surprisingly, Hylden’s parents discovered him five minutes after the crash. “That was a miracle that they found me. They weren’t looking for me because they thought I was already in town. But for some reason they decided to take that road, on that day, at that time.”

At first, they couldn’t identify their own son. “My face was totally distorted. They couldn’t recognize me at all, because it was so full of mud and blood and so swelled up.”

Immediately, his parents called 911.

Ben’s mom looked down at his feet. “That was her first moment of recognition after she put a coat on me. She recognized my feet,” he says.

But in Ben’s shattered condition, he didn’t realize it was his parents. “They were holding me in the field, praying and crying. I didn’t know who they were, though. I thought they were two nice people. My eyes were swelled shut and my ears were filled with dirt. I could faintly hear their voices. I knew it was a man and a woman.”

As they attended him, they watched their son’s body go limp for about four minutes. “I wasn’t breathing and I was gone. I remember taking that last breath.”

It took at least 15 minutes for the ambulance to arrive.

Ben was still breathing in the ambulance when it arrived at the hospital. The doctors’ prognosis was grim. “I had a really bad brain injury. I was supposed to lose parts of my organs, I was supposed to lose my right leg, have brain damage for the rest of my life.”

When doctors attempted exploratory surgery, his lungs collapsed. “I wasn’t breathing again for around five minutes,” he says. Then doctors placed him on a mechanical ventilator.

“They said my lungs would swell, and I would suffocate and die by Easter.”

But God intervened, breathing new life into Ben’s lungs.  “Amazingly, my lungs never swelled up. To the doctors, that was the greatest miracle; to them it was simply impossible. They thought there’s no way they can’t fill up after going through so much. But they never did.”

On Easter, Ben passed from death to life. “By Monday, I was rapidly healing. I was actually out of the ICU the next Thursday, in six days, which was in the doctors’ minds insane.”

Ben in the hospital (photo:benhylden.com)

Ben faced many challenges during a long recovery process. “There were many times that I just couldn’t understand why all these things would happen to me. There was a point after my accident I got so depressed where I wanted to commit suicide, I was admitted into the psych ward at the hospital in Grand Forks, because I was mentally ill.”

It wasn’t until Ben was a sophomore in college that he fully surrendered to God. “That was a tough year because I had another leg surgery, which really brought me down because that artery in my right leg stopped working. I thought I was done with all the injuries.”

Before the surgery, Ben had been attracted by the party lifestyle in college. “I started getting into the world, the drinking and the temptations of life. I was lost. I didn’t want to do it. But then I kept doing it.

Why do I keep doing the things that I don’t want to do? Why am I doing this? he wondered.

On the anniversary of his accident, a spirit of repentance fell on Ben. “I woke up and I just began crying, just crying my eyes out. Because I knew I was in this pit. I just felt so empty and so full of guilt and sin and just didn’t know how to get out of it. I was repenting and wanting to change so bad.”

God had rescued his body; now God rescued his soul. “As I was crying, that burden was being taken away.”

 

He recognized he had to let go of trying to be good and placed all his faith and trust in Jesus Christ. With childlike faith, he asked the Holy Spirit to make him into somebody new. “This was the greatest moment of my life, my spiritual resurrection, because it gave me freedom,” he says.

“From then on, it’s been a journey to share my story and to share the gospel.”

 

Ben is the author of “Finding faith in the field.” To learn more about his ministry go here

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