Although the Colombian native already knew the Lord before the accident, there is no doubt this dramatic event changed Hernando’s life forever.
It happened 11 years ago. Hernando was working as an engineer when an industrial oven exploded, propelling huge shards of metal through his legs and slicing them in 14 places. Arteries, muscles and nerves were ripped into shreds.
When he arrived in the emergency room 12 minutes later, the doctors took one look at him and told him he would not be leaving the hospital alive. Even with blood infusions, his vital signs crashed.
After Hernando was revived, he was rushed into a surgery that lasted more than eight hours. “When I woke up,” he recalls, “I asked my wife immediately if I still had my legs.” Yes, his legs survived the ordeal, but Hernando was not yet out of danger. His recovery was not going well, so the doctors planned to amputate in two days.
The two days came and went. The hospital was so busy, they kept postponing the second surgery.
Hernando’s legs healed so quickly in the mean time that the amputation was no longer necessary. Instead they inserted 12 screws.
“I knew that God healed me,” says Hernando. “There is no other way this could have happened.”
He spent one more month in the hospital, a full year on rest, and three years on crutches. “But this was a beautiful time,” Hernando says. He shared food and the love of God with other patients, doctors and nurses. “When I was discharged from the hospital,” he adds, “the nurses didn’t want me to leave!”
Despite his miraculous recovery, Hernando had more challenges to face. His doctors told him he must retire, that he would never work again. Once more, the soft-spoken but determined man proved them wrong. After three years, he resumed his career.
“I did recover through lot of work, a lot of passion, and a lot of enemy attacks,” says Hernando, “but it was because of God, so now I wanted to work for God.”
Four years ago, Hernando became a pastor, while still working as an engineer. Last year though, something called the Festival de Esperanza in Bogotá captured his heart and attention. He decided to leave engineering and serve the Lord full time at his church and with the Festival.
He started off last February creating the Festival website and Facebook page, then became the office general manager. The connections forged on Facebook influenced, in part, the successful outcome of this Festival. Out of the base of more than 3,000 members, hundreds were recruited for various volunteer roles.
A Facebook prayer group comprised of 30 women who were ill was so successful that it disbanded a couple of months before the Festival started: “Everyone got healed!” Hernando explains, laughing.
“I think technology is a tool that can be used for good or bad,” he says. “Some pastors don’t like technology so they allow the enemy to use it to his advantage, but we use it to share the Gospel.”
Reflecting on how the Festival has influenced Bogotá, Hernando says, “It has achieved something we have wanted for so long now – for the churches to connect, work together and be united. Now there is a lot more work to do.”
No doubt, this man of strength whose legs are connected by screws will play a role in connecting people and churches for years to come – “all for the love of God.”
*Photo courtesy of Ron Nickel