Steve Ruetschle’s Story
“We walk by faith, and not by sight,” is how Steve Ruetschle beloved Senior Pastor of the Union Church of Manila looks forward to his family’s future.
Last June 17, Steve was in a severe motorcycle accident while on a multi-state motorcycle trip in the US. The accident happened in North Carolina where he was vacationing with his family. Medics on the scene made the decision to life-flight Steve to the nearest trauma hospital, where doctors found that Steve fractured his c6 and c7 neck vertebrae, paralyzing him from his upper chest downwards. Steve went through two grueling surgeries to stabilize his neck, and struggled through fevers and infections common in spinal-injury patients. There was a time that even Steve’s mental condition was in doubt, as the combination of trauma and medication used in surgery left Steve in delirium, unable to communicate.
After the accident, Steve was told that there was just a 10 percent chance that he would ever be able to regain any meaningful movement in his legs. A few weeks ago, Steve defied expectations and was able to take a few steps with the help of his therapist and a walker. While elated, Steve feels tentative as well, as he navigates this fresh hope. As Michelle says, “We cannot know how well Steve will walk — whether it will be for only a few steps, whether it will be with a walker or a cane, whether it will be with braces, or in complete freedom, but at this point I feel that we can confidently say, he will walk again. Somehow.”
The walking moments remain small pinnacles of light, however, in the continued complexity of the day to day. Steve still watches his young boys play from afar, on a wheelchair. This limited capacity to physically interact with his family is one of the most excruciating consequences of his disability. But Michelle reminds herself, time and time again, “Instead of worrying, pray. This faith journey cannot be solely fixated on whether or not Steve is healed. It must be about so much more. For there is much that is true and noble and beautiful in our lives. The discipline, the journey, the exercise for us is to see it and embrace it despite all that is also ugly, dark and cursed. These first steps are a part of that journey, a gift, a mercy and a grace that helps us to see.”
No one knows what the future holds for Steve, as his prognosis will play out over the months and years to come. With so many thousands following Steve’s story, no one can doubt the influence and catalyst of the community’s compassion; of what is made possible when the strong and weak carry each other across so many boundaries.
“Everything is possible for him who believes.” -Jesus Christ, –Mark9:23
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never
come to an end; they are new every morning. . .
– Lamentations 3:22-23