Can You Help?


Hey Friends

I wanted to take a minute and update you on some events that have transpired over the last week. On Wednesday night around our dinner table our house church talked about a project in Uganda that we are partnering with House of Friends in order to spur church planting in Africa. Part of that plan involved a missionary family named the Shehee’s who live in Uganda and we know of through some mutual friends.

Thursday morning, we received a tragic email alerting us that the Shehee’s were in a car accident in which the father and mother were injured and their one-month old child was killed.  Anyone who has ever lost a child or been on the mission field can know how devastating one of these things is, but to have both happen simultaneously is tragic.

That said, I wanted to share their story as far and wide as possible.  Please read the letter Will Shehee wrote yesterday and at least pray for them, and if you can, give generously to help in their hour of need.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On Jan 29th, late at night, we were driving back from Kampala on a two lane highway. As I was going down a hill, a car passed going the other direction. Their lights flooded my vision for a few seconds, and then there was a semi-truck parked in my lane with no break lights or reflectors. I hit the back of it going 50 mph. Our newborn baby, Lydia Rose, suffered a serious head wound and died.

Etta’s side of the vehicle was completely smashed in. Her legs were pinned. It took over 20 minutes to pull her out. Four bones were severely broken, including her femur, tibia, knee cap, and collar bone. My ulna was also broken.

Obviously, this is the hardest thing we have ever had to walk through, but the grace of God has carried us and given us strength. There are many sources through which that strength-ening has come, including many of you.

First, thank you so much for your prayers. 2 Cor. 1:10-11 “He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again, as you also join in helping us by your prayers, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” Prayer requests have been sent out from our friends here to their networks, who forwarded it to all their prayer networks. People are literally praying for us from all over the world. We are all so aware of the indescribable grace of God which has come to us through your prayers!

Secondly, God has surrounded us with an amazing community of friends and family. In-credibly, the accident happened in the middle of the three week visit of both mine and Etta’s mothers. God knew we would both need the comfort that only a mother’s love can give. Our team in Tororo has rallied around us. From the time they brought us from the accident to the hospital, they haven’t left our side. They have been a lifeline of strength and comfort.

There are also three truths from the Word of God that always bring peace and even joy to our hearts in the midst of the storm.

First, God is sovereign over life and death. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 says “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die”. Acts 1:7 says that those times and seasons are fixed by God’s authority. When we are tempted to think about all the things we should have done differently, and blame ourselves or the other drivers, we remember that God fixed this moment in His heart, and it wasn’t because of some so-called “accident” or mistake. That revelation of the knowledge of God has saved us from tail spinning into the dark place of regret and blame, and given His perfect peace.

The second truth which has brought grace (divine strengthening) to us is the reality of heaven. Heaven has never been so real to us as it is now. God saved our sweet innocent girl from a life of suffering. Her spirit is in paradise forever. God showed me a picture of her spirit in the bosom of the Father, He was incubating her with the greatest love she could ever receive. When we feel sorrow over her physical death, we think about where she is right now and feel surges of joy. What a beautiful childhood she will have!

And the third truth is the corresponding hope that we feel, that we will one day be to-gether. Christian hope is not merely “thinking of”, but the present “certainty of” a future reality. That life is but a vapor, and in just a minute we’ll meet Her at the gates of the heavenly city, never to be separated again.

God did not abandon us or forsake us in our greatest time of need. So many miracles have happened. Right after the accident so many people ran up to help. Etta’s legs were com-pletely pinned between the seat and the front of the car. After they finally busted the door open, they attached ropes to two semi’s in front and behind and pushed the front of the van off of her legs. Meanwhile a pastor from Tororo had been traveling behind us and witnessed the accident. It was as if he appeared out of nowhere to help us. My phone was destroyed so I had no way of calling an ambulance. The pastor knew Jesse Digges (my ministry partner) and called him! Jes-se was there with the van by the time they got Etta out.

Most hospitals in Uganda don’t have “emergency” in their vocabulary. We kept pressing them to do an x-ray, etc, and after 7 hours of only basic first aid at two different hospitals, God sent us a true hero to advocate. Jill Robinson was an ER nurse in America for 18 years before becoming a missionary to Uganda. She found out we were in her city, Mbale, from a friend of mine. She and her husband rushed out to find us as soon as she found out. She knew exactly what needed to be done, and the culturally sensitive way to get them to do it. She is also good friends with an American PHD physical therapist who can help us with recovery, and who also knew the best orthopedic surgeon in Uganda, just 2 hours away! They transferred us, and we are finally getting professional care from an amazing team of Ugandan nurses. The doctor is a Ugandan MD who since has taken excellent care of us completing both surgeries safely. Jill the American nurse hasn’t left our side and and was present during the surgeries, she stayed in a hotel next to the hospital. We had never met her before. That is Christian love!

Please continue to pray for us. We have a long road of physical therapy. And even more, the grief of losing our little Rose after having her only a month. Thanks for all of you who have been praying and who have offered to stand with us financially (we don’t have health insurance). A friend of ours is setting up a GIve Forward campaign.

We echo the words of our Father in the faith, Job, when he lost his children:  “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.'” Job 1:21



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About traviskolder

Travis Kolder is a follower of Jesus, a husband, a father of five, an organic church planter, and a writer. He lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he serves as part of the Cedar Rapids House Church Network.

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