News Articles

Volunteer says Kenyans’ new faith overshadows auto accident travails

WHITE HOUSE, Tenn. (BP)–It was the last day of a 12-day missions trip to Kenya, Africa. Three members of the Bruce family — Leslie Bruce, pastor of First Baptist Church, White House, Tenn.; his wife, Phyllis; and their daughter, Lee Anne Bruce, a member of Forest Hills Baptist Church in Nashville — were riding in a van when it was struck from behind and collided with a truck.
Phyllis and Lee Anne Bruce, who were sitting in the front seat, sustained injuries. It took an hour to extract Phyllis, who was the most seriously hurt. Then they traveled nine hours to a hospital in Nairobi, where they learned Phyllis’ ankle and knee were crushed.
Six months later, sitting in their home in Tennessee, Leslie and Phyllis admit they’ve been reminded bad things happen to Christians, even Christians doing good things. But that fact doesn’t discourage the couple. They intend to return to Kenya.
And Phyllis, who is still recovering from six weeks of hospitalization and several surgeries, said if she had known what would happen to her in Kenya, she still would have gone because of the miracles she has witnessed and the spiritual insights she has gained following the accident there.
Phyllis Bruce, an employee of LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, became involved in the Kenyan outreach through LifeWay, which coordinated the trip through the International Mission Board. Bruce led her husband and daughter to join a total of 29 employees or family members of employees in the effort.
It was the first foreign missions experience for the Bruces. Leslie and Phyllis said they experienced the greatest joy of their lives as they walked down little paths from hut to hut witnessing to people. As a result, most became Christians — about a hundred people each day, the Bruces reported. The team led about 6,000 people to God and started 27 congregations.
One reason she was supposed to go to Kenya was Ben, recounted Phyllis Bruce.
Ben was a driver for the tour company which transported the team members. A few days after her arrival, Bruce led him to commit his life to God. Then she spent much of her free time discipling Ben in his new faith. Thankfully, he wasn’t hurt in the accident.
“How can you say what a leg is worth compared to a person’s eternal destiny?” she asked.
The Bruces cite other miracles which have strengthened their faith and that of others.
An angel helped those trying to extract Bruce and her daughter from the van. The angel, said Leslie Bruce, was in the form of an African girl who provided a huge crowbar. The crowbar allowed the workers to pry open a van door and remove the two women. When the workers tried to find the girl to thank her, she had disappeared.
Another miracle was that missionary Connie Burton had returned to Nairobi the day of the accident. Burton is an area health-care coordinator for the IMB.
God provided good health-care workers, the Bruces reported. And the local missionaries helped them. For instance, the missionaries probably depleted their supply of red jello because it was the only thing Phyllis found appetizing for a time. The insurance of LifeWay and the International Mission Board has covered all of their expenses, including the journey home by jet.
And Phyllis always will remember experiencing a spiritual epiphany. During the accident she thought Lee Anne was dead. Later she realized her feeling must have been the same as God’s when he gave his Son. She’ll never forget that depth of despair, she said, and its assurance of God’s love.

    About the Author

  • Connie Davis