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It was a rainy evening on March 26, 1965, when Ken, age 19, and Andy, age 15, headed down Ipsen Road, a county road near Belvidere, Illinois, gaining speed so the car would “catch air” as it crested the hill. Ken, who was driving, had done it numerous times so he knew the thrill that it brought, but this time neither he nor Andy saw the train as it roared down the track before crossing the road just 100 feet beyond the top of the hill. That’s all Andy remembers – not the mile they were dragged before the train finally came to a stop or their subsequent physical condition.

The teenagers were rushed to different hospitals. Andy lay unconscious for two weeks suffering from a broken arm, broken jaw, head injuries, and a paralyzed larynx. His parents, Ivan and Helen Crull, took turns keeping a vigil by his side, praying and wondering what would become of their son. Finally, upon regaining consciousness, Andy discovered his numerous injuries, including the loss of his voice. His only form of communication was to attempt to scribble words on a page.

Andy Crull with his wife, Wymetta.

Andy Crull with his wife, Wymetta.

As the days went on and the visitors’ faces remained the same, Andy began to wonder why Ken hadn’t come to visit. He took pencil to paper and asked his mom that very question. Needing the support of her husband, Helen called Ivan and together they told Andy the heart-wrenching news that his brother had died of his injuries. It would be several months before Andy would feel the comfort of his own bed in the security of the house that he missed greatly, a house filled with so many memories of Ken.

Months turned into years as Andy went through arduous rehabilitation to regain his voice. School, in which Andy had always excelled, had now become a place of isolation as most of the other students didn’t know how to react to Andy’s voiceless reality. Despite missing numerous school days because of his accident and his struggle to communicate, Andy persevered, worked hard, slowly began to regain his voice, and graduated with his class.

It has been 53 years since the accident and some of Andy’s injuries are still evident. His voice is soft and at times he seems to struggle to say words, but those words are dripping with the anointing of the Holy Spirit and a passion for Jesus and those who don’t have a relationship with Him.

Andy recently took a speech class in hopes of bringing more clarity to his words. Yet no matter what his voice may sound like, it is his heart that people hear when he talks. Andy’s voice, which the devil tried to silence, is now being used to teach an adult Bible study at Belvidere Open Bible, deliver presentations in numerous churches as a voice for Gideons International, read to shut-ins at a care center, and encourage those in prison.

Recently I received an email from a woman named Rushele, asking if we had a member in the church named Andy who did jail ministry. I responded with a simple, “Yes.” The following reply brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart.

I met Andy in a Bible study in the Boone County Jail somewhere between July 19-23, 2015. I was withdrawing from heroin and crack cocaine. Prior to being arrested I was walking the streets in Rockford prostituting. The day I saw Andy, I agreed to go to a Bible study, but I quickly tried to leave the room and go back to my cell. I told Andy I was sorry. I just couldn’t do the Bible study because I was too sick from heroin withdrawal.

Andy said, “It’s okay. Look at me.” He then told me things like “God will turn your mess into a message,” and “GRACE means God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.” He told me to take one Bible verse at a time and meditate on it. I still do that to this day.

I celebrated three years of sobriety last month and I am very grateful for meeting Andy. God spoke through him to me. I have both of my kids back in my life and my marriage has been restored. I am currently pursuing my master’s degree in counseling. But most important, I have a relationship with God that I cannot articulate. I AM REDEEMED. Thank you, Andy.

Rushele Ryder today with her beautiful family.

Rushele Ryder today with her beautiful family.

Rushele is only one of the many who can say that Andy impacted their lives in much the same way. When writing this article, I asked Andy what he would want it to convey. To no surprise he said, “That more Christians would realize how important it is to share the love and hope of Jesus to those who don’t know Him.”

Andy’s voice is truly an inspiration to us all.

About the Author
MSG Pope 1118Dan Pope is the pastor of Open Bible Church in Belvidere, Illinois, a Registry Chaplain for the Swedish American Hospital in Rockford, Illinois, and a Salvation Army board member. He and Miriam, his wife, have two children, Caelan and Rian.

About The Author

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Since 1920, Message of the Open Bible has been a medium to celebrate all the wonderful things God is doing through His people in Open Bible Churches – from personal testimonies, to news-related stories, to inspirational articles by quality authors.