By Jerry Newcombe, D.Min.,
Recently I met a man who is a “walking miracle.” A survivor of a horrible accident, 55-year-old Danny Yamashiro, a pastor’s son and native of Hawaii, is grateful for every day of life.
Danny’s website tells what happened: “At 18, he survived a deadly 400 foot fall from the famed Pali ridge in Hawaii. Rescuing his girlfriend from a 20 foot fall, Danny slipped and fell head first 300 feet and later another 100 feet. He suffered traumatic brain injuries (skull fractures, torn scalp), a shattered ankle, smashed organs, extensive lacerations, and being comatose. A spiritual awakening impacted his recovery.”
Danny’s story is highlighted in an article in Listverse.com about 10 people that survived precipitous falls from great heights: “Despite being severely injured, Yamashiro clung to life while rescue workers attempted to retrieve him. As the rescuers moved down the mountain, Yamashiro shifted his weight on the ledge causing him to fall another 30 meters (100 ft).”
They add, “While he did survive both falls and go on to make a full recovery (as well as a successful career in televangelism), the ordeal didn’t leave him unscathed. Yamashiro sustained an array of life-threatening injuries.”
How could someone survive such an accident?
I got to interview Danny on the radio recently. We pick up right after he was rescued in 1985 from the fall: “The doctors told my parents, ‘It doesn’t look good. If he makes it through the night, surely he will be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life.’ And that was my turning point where the Lord intervened. I needed to learn to walk, talk, eat right. I couldn’t even breathe on my own at the time.”
I asked him to walk me through his eventual healing. “The recovery took a long time. I went through a deep period of several years of dark depression. I had major swings in my emotions. The Lord took me through that. It was a real breaking time—breaking emotionally, psychologically.
“But Biola University in Southern California played a very big role in my healing process, and at the same time grounding me in the Word. I was a biblical studies theology major.”
However, there were certainly times of doubt. Danny told me, “During my college years, there were times when I would actually ask the Lord, ‘Why did you save me? Why did you not just take me?’ It was so painful. And I was so confused. And I remember the Lord whispering to me, ‘Danny, one day I’m going to release you.’ And what I got by that was a sense of hope.”
Danny remembered the Scripture verse that says, “He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” And that and other Scriptures (such as Isaiah 43:18-19) greatly encouraged him.
He says, “We talk about going to school and getting educated. But the brokenness was a different kind of education that has allowed me in a very unusual way to connect with people. I don’t even have to say things, and people get a sense where I know what they’re going through. It’s like my brokenness, my suffering allows me to relate with others where they are in their deepest, darkest times.”
He adds, “I think about our Lord Jesus Christ, ‘the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief,’ and I think, ‘Wow, there’s some profound thoughts that go along and the relatability when we go through that kind of suffering.’”
Since his complete recovery, Danny has been involved in preaching the Gospel in Hawaii, in Africa, in Asia, the Middle East, and in Latin America. He has earned a Ph.D. at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois. About 10 years ago, he went on to advanced studies at Harvard, where he received a standing ovation when he spoke upon graduation.
Today, he serves as an evangelical chaplain at M.I.T., where he is the co-chairperson of the Cambridge Roundtable on Science and Religion. They engage in dialogue with the faculty on science and religion. This includes participants from M.I.T. and Harvard.
He views these dialogues as “gateways to share the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Danny also hosts a regular Christian radio program based in the Boston area.
Any student of early American history knows that there were many examples of God’s Providence shining on this nation. George Washington said that Americans in particular should be grateful for the way God miraculously helped become a nation.
Dr. Danny Yamashiro, a walking miracle, experienced new life out of near death. I happened to meet him during Lent, which may be viewed as a season of miracles. After all, at this time, we celebrate the crowning event of all time, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave.
Dr. Jerry Newcombe is the executive director of Providence Forum, a division of D. James Kennedy Ministries, where Jerry also serves as senior producer and an on-air contributor. He has written/co-written 33 books, including (with D. James Kennedy), What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? and (with Dr. Peter Lillback), George Washington’s Sacred Fire.