1). Anita, congratulations on your new book! Can you tell us a little about it?
Yes I'd love to. I felt the need to let people know more about God's miracle on the bridge. Sometimes we focus on the outcome, and never look closer to see the details. God restored a life that day, but He had been busy a long time before then. Yes, God was in the detail-business long before that fateful day.
I awakened one morning with the book title in my mind: Divine Appointment: Our Journey to the Bridge. It is an appropriate title, as I reviewed my life and past decisions that took a specific route toward a timely divine encounter. The "appointment" was with Don Piper, the man who died and came back to life.
My husband Dick and I met Don Piper on a Texas bridge where Dick prayed for Don, a man pronounced dead. I believe it was a daring act of obedience for Dick to pray as he did, yet he was confident God directed his prayer. Don's return to life was the miracle answered prayer now shared around the world.
Many people know about the bridge miracle because of Don Piper's story in the New York Times bestseller, 90-Minutes in Heaven.
Millions have read Don's account, and now the companion story is here: a back-story about the man who prayed, and his wife who is the only eyewitness to this miracle today.
My book, Divine Appointment: Our Journey to the Bridge, chronicles the life my husband Dick and I shared, as well as the decisions that ultimately worked together to place us with Don on that Trinity River bridge.
2). Can you tell readers a little about your journey to the bridge on that fateful day? Where had you been? Where were you going?
Dick and I had attended a conference in east Texas. Don Piper was there too—although we really did not know one another. We all left the conference grounds around the same time, and within 15 minutes Don's car was crushed in an accident. There was only ONE reason Don's car was hit and not our car. Only the time required to drive through Dairy Queen for a cup of coffee made the difference! You may wonder how I know that?? Because, our car was the very first vehicle to approach the wreckage, and for the longest time all Dick and I could think was how our car would have been hit had we not stopped for my coffee.
As I pondered the events of that day, and our life, I realized how God used each major decision we made as a part of the puzzle that brought us there that Wednesday, January 18, 1989.
3). What was running through your mind when your husband, Dick, was praying for Don Piper?
I was at another location on the bridge when Dick prayed for Don.
Dick is the single person who prayed. He felt compelled by God and could not escape the strong urge to pray. He acknowledged his hesitation, and questioned his thoughts, but when God continued the urge to pray specifically for the man, Dick finally obeyed. I was amused to discover that when he decided to obey God, he prayed verbally and aloud "for anyone nearby to hear."
I learned about his prayer, and Don's return to life after we left the scene of the wreck. Dick told me God led him to pray two very specific things: 1) that the man live, and 2) that the man have no internal injuries. And—what happened next WAS the miracle. God brought Don back to life, and he had no internal injuries.
It was not unusual for Dick to stop at an accident scene and pray. Also, he was a man who typically sought God's heart as he prayed.
4). Did you realize, at the time, that your trip to the bridge was, indeed, a divine appointment? Or did you just see it as a coincidence?
I'm not sure that Dick or I saw this as a divine appointment at that time, but we were certain it was no coincidence. I do not believe in coincidence – for everything that occurs is part of the Sovereignty of God. So, we knew God had purpose. Only in retrospect did I observe our life events connecting in such a way that specifically brought us to a certain time and specific place.
I believe it was no coincidence at the role chosen for Dick and for Don. God knew which man would dare to pray, and which man would be alive to declare the story that has profoundly affected lives.
5). How did the journey to the bridge change your husband's life?
The journey of our life and ministry changed everything about my husband's life. God wrought the change, although his mother always felt God had a special call on his life. Dick and I saw our life as a journey – not as a circular thing, but moving from one place to another because of God's direction. We sought to live according to God's timetable.
6). How did the journey to the bridge change your life?
Dick died in 1996 before Don wrote his book in 2004, and before our book was published in May 2010. So, I conclude I am more changed by reflecting upon our journey to the bridge.
However, Dick wrote for our church congregation in 1993, and I used his own words and comments throughout Divine Appointment. I am privileged to have been part of our life journey, and witness to things God did.
7). Can you catch readers up? What's been happening in your life since that incident?
Dick continued as pastor of a local church in Spring Texas for seven years after the bridge miracle. God blessed our ministry there until his death.
The most significant event for me was Dick's death, because that changed every iota of my life. Suddenly everything about it seemed foreign and unfamiliar. My grief was complicated from losing my husband, and also my pastor of 25 years. I lost the open door to ministry, and so much more.
Much has changed for me since then. I remarried to Ed Wood, and this sweet man is my most significant encourager and prayer warrior.
I identified God's call on my life, and began that part of my personal journey by finishing college, and then a master's degree in Christian education and women's ministry. I graduated in 2007, and loved every minute of that challenge.
I have five grandchildren today, whereas Dick only knew our older three. All of these grandchildren are believers, and will reunite with Granddaddy one day. Until then, I trust my life will become a legacy and example for them.
While this segment of my life is distinctly different from earlier years, God moves me along His plan for my life and continuing ministry.
8). Are you still in touch with Don Piper?
Yes. Our relationship grows as years go by. Don hosted a ministry event recently, called HOPE SUMMMIT, where he was keynote. His wife Eva and I were session speakers. It was wonderful serving God with them.
Don has been a faithful voice to the miracle God wrought—the event that has forever united our lives.
And, he wrote the forward to my book!
9). Has God given you other "divine appointments" in the years since witnessing Don's amazing resurrection?
Of course, God's timing is so precise. I believe He brings people into my life, and uses me to affect others. Some appointments may seem small: like encountering someone in the store, listening to their story, and then praying on the spot. A small appointment for some, yet it's huge when you are the one needing prayer.
One specific incident captured my attention: I was attending a Bible study group when two women arrived. Introductions went from woman to woman as we attempted to learn something to connect us around the tables.
One new lady mentioned her favorite book was 90-Minutes in Heaven. About that time, the leader said to me, "Now, tell her who you are!" [Meaning I was in the book, as well as Dick being the man who prayed.]
What really caught my attention was the rest of Debbie's story, "my husband was recently born-again by me sharing this book; it was when he had surgery recently: June 6th." I was astonished, because June 6th
was Dick's birthday!! This was no coincidence! It was God's way of assuring me He knew where I was, and about my life.
I love how God communicates with me, and continues directing my steps toward His path for my life. I don't want to walk in any other place.
10). If you could say one thing to readers, what would it be. . .and why?
Your journey is different from mine, but equally significant to God. I think if more people grasped the significance of their life from His perspective, they would be more content, and discover life is an awesome adventure. If God cares enough to count each hair on our head, then we can trust Him with the details of our life.