Minister’s sermon before accident gives hope, students say

Just three days before a bicycle accident left him in a medically-induced coma, Dustin Salter, former minister for Reformed University Fellowship at TCU, preached to students at Furman University about providence.In his sermon, posted on Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s Web site, Salter encouraged students to put their trust in God’s hands.

“There is a God who is infinite and personal, who controls and directs all things for his glory and for our good,” he said.

Salter’s own words are helping to comfort students who are devastated and confused about Salter’s situation, said Rob Hamby, RUF’s current minister AT TCU.

Salter was part of RUF’s staff at TCU for eight years until moving to Furman University this fall, Hamby said.

He was not wearing a helmet when he fell off of his bicycle while riding with his two sons on Nov. 8, one block from his home in Greenville, S.C.

Salter is the father of three children, Jacob, 9, Nathan, 7, and Meredith, 2.

While his condition has not notably changed since the accident, Salter was moved from the Intensive Care Unit to a private room on Nov. 24., according to the Redeemer Presbyterian Church Web site.

Initially, Salter underwent surgery to remove blood clots and part of his skull to reduce swelling in his brain, Hamby said.

On Nov. 17 Salter’s sedative medication dosage was reduced so that he is not in as deep of a coma as he had been since the accident. On Nov. 21, Salter was taken off of a ventilator and is now breathing on his own, according to the Web site. Updates provided by Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s senior pastor say long-term care is being discussed by Salter’s wife, Leigh Anne, but no decisions have been reached as to where to go from here.

While surgery has been performed and medication given to reduce the swelling in his brain, the main threat to Salter’s recovery is infection, said Grant Beachy, assistant pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

At this point, there are no signs of infection, he said.

Beachy encourages his congregation to be praying for Salter and to trust God in this situation.

“While we do not know the end from the beginning, our God does,” Beachy said. “We press on, trusting his fatherly wisdom, compassion and providence.”

Cameron Young, senior graphic design major, sat under Salter’s teachings at TCU for three years.

Young visited Salter in the hospital soon after the accident and said Salter’s family is staying positive and believes that he will wake up.

“They have a lot of support,” Young said. “There are tons of people praying and sending cards and helping take care of the kids.”

Young said students at TCU are somewhat disconnected to the situation and that it’s harder to stay positive.

“We just have to remember what Dustin has taught us over the years,” he said. “He wouldn’t want us mourning. He would want us to go on with hope.”

Salter said in his sermon that there is no circumstance that is mere coincidence.

“Coincidence says that the circumstances in our lives are just that: mere coincidence – just mere chance,” he said. “Providence says that God has planned all things and brings all that he has planned to pass.”

Salter said the question is not why God allows suffering in our lives, but rather, how people respond to suffering.

“Suffering will either make you a bitter person, or it will make you a beautiful person,” he said.

Hamby said that students are having a hard time dealing with this situation but that wrestling through their faith is an important part of a Christian walk.

“There is a lot of confusion, uncertainty and doubt,” Hamby said. “All I can tell students is that God is still good, even in the midst of this.”

Hamby said between 75 and 100 students have been meeting to pray for Salter since the accident.

“There is a lot of unity in this group,” he said. “They understand the seriousness of it and are facing the hard situation with prayer.”

Every student is reacting in a different way but are searching for answers and asking God to intervene in Salter’s situation, Hamby said.

“God’s plan is often a mystery and sometimes involves suffering,” he said. “But God is trustworthy and good, even when his ways are beyond our understanding.