This is My Story
Written by: Matt Manzari
I fell in love with water sports at an early age. I started wakeskating and before I knew it, I was sponsored by Nike and traveling the world doing what I loved at the age of 15! It seemed my career was established, and I knew what I would do for the rest of my life! However, God had other plans and began to work on my heart. Out of nowhere, I started sensing He was calling me into ministry. Feeling unqualified, I fought this calling for about two months. I told God if this was truly His leading, then He had to give me confirmation by sundown that night. If I had confirmation, I would drop everything and pursue ministry. I honestly didn’t expect anything to happen, but I could finally go to sleep with a clear conscience. One hour after praying this prayer, while on the phone with a friend, he randomly told me that he knew I would be in ministry from the day he met me. I had never told anyone about what had been going on, and now a friend calls me out of the blue saying I need to be in ministry. Needless to say, I hung up the phone, broke into tears, and found myself enrolling in school to study Theology.
Four years later, I was about to graduate and my wife and I were excited to move into full-time ministry! It was the weekend before my final exams, and even though I had pretty much removed myself from my sport, I entered into the pro tour contests to earn some extra money. I was the first rider off the dock and due to a drought, there was a narrow passage in the pass. I was pulled behind the boat into the shoreline at over 25 mph, which was lined with cinderblock and rebar. I cracked my skull in 16 places, had 13 screws and 3 plates put in face, my jaw was broken, I had rebar go to my leg, crushed my hand, and broke my tailbone. Doctors were amazed that I survived the head trauma and, over the next eight months, I had a slow but full recovery! God was so incredible! As I laid there with absolutely no power and my weakest point, I saw God begin to take care of every little worry in my life! When people ask me what I would do if I could go back, I say, “Nothing different.” because in that accident, I learned the power of the God we serve and how much he cares. This prepared me for the storm that was coming…
After about a year, I was trying to start working in ministry. A door opened, and I was asked to come alongside a ministry that teaches inner city kids, as well as kids at summer camps around the U. S. how to water ski, wakeboard, and wakeskate. These teaching opportunities were paired with opportunities to speak to the kids and tell them my testimony. I was excited and this seemed like the perfect ministry to pour myself into.
One week after making this decision, I was trimming trees at a local church and a power line arched over to the metal bucket I was standing in. 14,000 Volts shot through my body. The electricity caused 4th and 5th degree burns, which melted most of the skin off of my chest and arms, going deep enough to kill muscle and bone. My wife was working inside the church and, after holding her back until the ambulance got there, they finally told her she should say goodbye because they didn’t think I was going to make it. They rushed me into emergency surgery and I was in a coma, but alive. My family was told that if I ever woke up, I would not be the Matt they knew. They said that amount of voltage definitely gave me brain damage, they just didn’t know how severe. My family was also told they would be taking my arms off the following day, my kidneys would soon fail, and finally they didn’t know how severe my heart was damaged, but there are never electrocution injuries without heart damage.
Miraculously, a few days later I woke up from the coma and began to speak. Doctors were amazed as, over the next month, my kidneys never failed, my heart was fine, I was able to keep my arms, and there was no brain damage. I still had a long road ahead. I was told that my infection risk was high and if the infection set in, it would go to my heart and there was nothing they could really do. Even though I did not have the promise of tomorrow, I was completely at peace. After multiple surgeries of tissue removal, artificial skin placement, and skin grafts, I was released just over three months later. This was a miracle considering I was told I would be there a minimum of one year. Over the past few years, I have gone under anesthesia 26 times and had over 70 operations . Healing is a full-time job. My wife was pregnant at the time of my accident, and I was able to make it out of the hospital to watch his birth. God blessed us with the birth of our second son a year and a half later. We are beyond grateful for our children!
My wife and I plan on spending the rest of our lives sharing our story with the world. Everybody struggles at some point, and though we cannot always control our circumstances, we can control our attitude and our faith! God has been faithful and caring through the good times, and even more so in our suffering. We want to encourage all to stay positive and persevere, because this life is only temporary. No matter how big our problems are, God can carry us through!