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Ben in the hospital

Ben Quinn: Free Falling into Grace

By Ken Hulme and Michelle Wilson
The 700 Club

CBN.comFor a sheer adrenaline rush, there’s nothing like it in the world -- jumping from 4,000 feet and flying.

“It’s the best thing ever,” says Ben Quinn. “Everything in your body is telling you not to do it. Just to jump out of a plane, turn over and watch it fall away from you, it’s an amazing feeling.”

Ben Quinn of Bellingham, Washington was just 21 when he took his first dive out of an airplane. From there he never looked back.

“Before each jump you look over your gear,” he explains. “You make sure it’s all good. You check all of the connections and look over that. You’re falling at 120 miles an hour on average. So being stable in the air can be kind of tricky.”

Ben’s love for extreme sports began three years earlier when friends introduced him to snow boarding, surfing and dirt bikes.

“I’ve been a kid that just wants to have fun and just explore what God created for us,” says Ben.

But Ben loved skydiving most of all. With 25 jumps under his belt, he was able to get his license. But then just three jumps later, with a parachute, a helmet and another skydiver on board, Ben stepped out onto this platform at 14,000 feet. What he didn’t realize was that his life was about to change forever.

“We did a routine thing: jumped out, got on the same plane flying together, docking and staying together.”

At 4,000 feet, Ben deployed his chute and prepared for landing.

“I began doing my opening sequence, my canopy cracked open, and as soon after that, I got hit by somebody. I didn’t know who, and I eventually found out that it was my partner.

“I was in a ton of pain. Everything from my butt down went completely numb. I was wondering, ‘Did you just break your back? Are you paralyzed?’

“My vision was starting to go out, and things are getting darker and darker. I’m just like, ‘Ben, stay awake, stay awake. You’re going to make it to the ground in a little bit.’ I‘m praying, and there is just no stopping it. My body was going into shock, and my vision just eventually went out.”

Ben floated to the ground. By the time he landed, he was unconscious. His friend had died as a result of the collision.

Ben was flown by helicopter to the hospital, where doctors assessed his injuries.

“It shattered my ankle. It blew out my knee. It tore my ACL, my lateral ligament, my meniscus, and my knee was done,” he recalls.

Ben stayed in the hospital for nearly three months mostly battling infection in his damaged leg. After 15 operations, doctors were finally forced to amputate just below the knee.

“I just wanted to sit there with my mom and cry -- not really say anything. It’s real tough. But we sat there and prayed. We said, ‘God has a purpose for this.’”

As Ben lay recovering he had plenty of time to think. He wondered what his life would be like with a missing limb. He wondered why his friend had died and he had lived. He wondered why, for the second time in his many years, God had saved his life.

Five years earlier, Ben had been struggling with school. He seemed to be constantly getting into fights with his step dad. At the heart of Ben’s problems? A growing selfishness and need for freedom.

“My goal as a teenager -- especially not having a real father -- was to show everybody that I could do it on my own without your help,” Ben says.

The older Ben got, the more heated the fights became.

At one point, Ben grew so desperate he took his rifle and thought about ending his life.

“I didn’t load it but I definitely sat there with a gun in my hand and thought through the process of what it would take to do something like that. I think what stopped me was that I couldn’t do something like that to my mom.”

But the fighting continued. At its peak Ben decided to leave home.

“I pretty much turned my back on God,” he says, “and I was going to do what I wanted to do.”

When Ben was 10, his father had died. It didn’t help that when Ben turned 18, he inherited a sizable amount of money. He took every opportunity to spend it, and before long Ben had gone through $40,000.

“I was a young kid that loved to play,” he says. “So I started buying a few toys. I bought a big lifted truck that I put $13,000 into.”

One night after his girlfriend dumped him, Ben hit rock bottom. That night while talking to his mom on the telephone, he accepted an invitation to go to church.

“I said, ‘God, if You’re really there and You really care about me, say something. Talk to me tomorrow. Make Yourself real to me.’”

That day Ben accepted Jesus as his Savior.

Ben Quinn“As I was sitting there, this prodigal son story started to kind of making a little sense to me. The pastor said, 'For some of you, this is your Father in heaven. Right now He is waiting for you to come back. He is waiting with open arms.' It made the hairs on my neck stand up. God spoke to me that day, and I just started crying in church. I felt like, 'I turn my back on You, God, but You’re still there.' It was the most amazing love that you can experience.”

As the years passed, Ben spent time with a group of extreme athletes who were extreme in other ways too.

"A bunch of young adults jumping up and downworshipping God [and] praying on the ground, eyes are closed... I had never seen anything like that. I had never seen kids do that. That’s like something you see grown-ups do. It was amazing. I knew I wanted part of that."

Today, Ben is thankful to God for the gift of salvation and for the wonderful progress he’s making on his new leg.

"Even though it doesn’t seem like it He’s there, later on down the road you will see it."

In fact, two years after his accident, Ben decided to do what no one ever dreamed he would do again -- go skydiving!

At 23, Ben beat the odds and jumped out of an airplane at 14,000 feet.

“Everything was really good. I jumped out and had a lot of fun. I was like, 'This is nothing. I can do this.'

"The greatest need in anybody’s life is the Lord Jesus Christ, because no matter what you go through, He’s gonna be there to help you through it.”

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