Can you imagine a 10,000-pound axle from a logging truck falling on top of you and nearly cutting the midsection of your body in two? That’s what happened to diesel mechanic Bruce Van Natta when the semitrailer he was repairing fell off a jack in November 2006.
Van Natta shouted to the driver “Turn it off!” and then pulled part of his body out from under the bumper of the vehicle. He was in agonizing pain, but what happened next is the reason the 40-year-old travels the world proclaiming Jesus.
“I had an out-of-body experience,” the Rudolph, Wis., resident told Charisma. “I was 10 to 15 feet in the air on a roof and when my spirit looked down, I saw two angels kneeling, facing my body with their arms under the truck.”
Van Natta says he had “100 percent total peace” during the experience. “I didn’t even realize the person under the truck was me. And it didn’t bother me one way or the other that the guy under the truck was hurt because I had peace,” he recalls.
He says when the firefighter patted his face and told him to wake up and fight for his life, he returned to his body. “All of a sudden my spirit, like a rocket, went wham! into my body.”
Van Natta could hear people around him saying he wasn’t going to make it. “When they opened me up in surgery they saw what looked like mush,” he says. Doctors found torn arteries and large sections of both his large and small intestines destroyed.
But after surviving five major surgeries, Van Natta has made a full recovery. And he says God gave him another miracle in 2007 when a man from New York prayed that his small intestines would grow back.
Van Natta says he later felt something wiggle in his abdomen and asked doctors to examine him. The results of a scan taken months later revealed that 300 centimeters or nearly half of the mechanic’s small intestines had miraculously returned.
Today, Van Natta is the author of Saved by Angels and founder of Sweet Bread Ministries, which is dedicated to proclaiming the gospel around the world through the Word and outreaches.
Married and the father of four children, Van Natta says his purpose is clear: to tell people about God’s love. “Each of us has a unique circle of influence that shouldn’t be just Sunday Christianity. We need to share it every day.”