Christian artists, The Newsboys, recorded a song that has become Ben Hylden’s favorite. Ben loves all the lyrics to “Amazing Love,” but a few nearly reduce him to tears. They are: I’m alive and well, Your Spirit is within me. . . . . . I know it’s true, it’s my joy to honor you, in all I do I honor you.
Ben most assuredly is alive and well despite not being expected to live through the day after driving too fast and losing control of his car on the way to school one April morning in 2007.
As a sophomore at Park River, N.D., high school who was “always” late, Ben was not wearing a seat belt, He hit the ditch, then an approach and was tossed about like a rag doll before being ejected out the passenger side and landing face down in a field of mud and ice. His first thought was to try to crawl to his parents, Kenny and Lana Hylden, to tell them he was sorry. Sorry for oftentimes not being nice to them and his siblings. Sorry for only living for himself. Sorry for so much.
But Ben couldn’t crawl. He had bruised lungs, kidneys, pancreas, liver and small intestines. An artery in his right leg was crushed, his pallet broken in half and his nose broken in nine places. He had a badly bruised right hip, four broken ribs, a severed tongue and most of the bones in his face were shattered. Along with all that, his brain was bruised and bleeding.
Ben was so bruised and bloody and muddy that his parents, who were on the same road on their way to a meeting, were the first ones to come upon the accident. They did not recognize their son.
Ben was raised in a devote Christian home but he said he didn’t really know Jesus then. Growing up on a dairy farm he didn’t want to help out on the farm because all he lived for was himself and sports.
The whole horrible, heart-wrenching, nearly tragic turned beautiful story comes from not only Ben’s pen but his heart and soul. Because I had read his book, “Finding Faith in the Field,” I wanted to meet Ben and hear him speak of how the accident has made him a changed man.
Wednesday night I was among a large crowd of all ages who listened to Ben tell his story at Calvary Lutheran Church in Grand Forks.
Ben, now 24, recovered much more rapidly than his physicians ever expected. “Simply put,” he said, “everything that happened was supposed to be impossible. I healed at a rate that’s not medically possible. The doctor said prayer was doing it. I believe the only reason I’m alive today is because of prayer. It’s by God’s mercy and grace that I’m here.”
All Ben ever wanted to do was play basketball and football. “Basketball was my God,” he said. He did play some after his recovery, but after twice getting elbowed in the head during a basketball game, which resulted in concussions, “I gave it up and my bond with God grew.”
Soon Ben realized that God had other plans for him. Since “Finding Faith in the Field,” was released in 2014, he has told his story more than 50 times to many organizations including camps, schools and churches. He has many more talks scheduled down the road and sometimes even he finds that difficult to believe.
“That’s the Holy Spirit up here,” he said Wednesday night as he stood at the podium. “There’s no way I can do this myself. I have to have Christ in me. I was saved to tell my story and that there is a God and a man named Jesus, a heaven and life after death. Even in the field I didn’t ask God to help me and He still came to my rescue. He gave me mercy and grace when I didn’t deserve it.”
Ben’s book, which sells for $12, is available at Hugo’s stores, Fergusons Books in Grand Forks, the University of North Dakota Bookstore, Ye Ole Medicine Center in Park River, and on Amazon.com. You also can order it from his website: www.higherspeaking.com., along with a line of clothing he has developed (t-shirts and sweatshirts) called “Purified,” branded by I John 1:7. It reads: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
Ben will speak at the Cavalier (N.D.) nursing home at 5:30 p.m. Saturday (May 23) and next Wednesday (May 27) to a class of drivers’ education students in Fordville, N.D.
“This is my career now,” Ben said. “I preached for the first time this past Sunday. My whole inspirational message isn’t to teach people but just to share the name of Christ. Christ is everything. I can look back and I just get sick. He has completely humbled me. My human dream was to play sports, but for people to know Christ, life is so much better. If they can know what I know, it takes such a burden off you. I was given complete mercy and grace. He’s our joy, our peace and life. He’s the best teacher there is and the Gospel is the most precious thing you can hear.”
These days, when Ben isn’t speaking, you just might hear him singing along with his Newsboys CD:
Because You were forsaken
You were condemned
I’m alive and well
Your Spirit is within me
Because You died
And rose again
How can it be
That You my King
Would die for me
I know it’s true
It’s my joy to honor You
In all I do I honor You