Highway 35 – Chris and Denise Arthey

With a move to Texas, Chris and Denise had the chance to fulfil a lifelong dream – a motorcycle road trip across the USA. But only a short time into the trip, on a stretch of Highway 35, a drunk driver collided with them head-on. One first responder said “the motorcyclists may not make it”. But they both made it through, each losing their left legs above the knee, as well as other injuries.

This is the story of their determination to recover and not allow this set-back to define the rest of their lives. It is an inspiring story, full of bravery, faith and doubt. A real and honest account of how they coped with the catastrophic accident, life-changing injuries that suddenly propelled their lives in a different direction.

The support network from friends, and especially the local church, is so heart-warming to read about. A group of people who genuinely care for each other, spiritually yes, but also emotionally and practically. Such generosity of spirit that I know can be reflected in church communities worldwide. I couldn’t help wondering how people would cope in this sort of situation without a supporting community. The church wrapped itself around this couple like a protective blanket.

I found it interesting to read that Chris was disappointed in himself, having made such careful preparations for the trip. But while reading, it struck me that his lifetime of faith was a key part of the preparations. Without it, his survival and recovery would likely have been significantly hampered. There is a life lesson in there for the reader. “Bad” things still happen to Christians, but our faith can help to swing the outcomes in our favour.

Romans 8:28 came to mind a few times whilst reading – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” It can often be difficult to see God working for our good if we are walking through a truly horrific situation like this, but in the end it is true – God can work for good in all situations.

The way they handled the legal proceedings is a wonderful testimony to the healing power of forgiveness. Where it may have been tempting to go all out, driven by a sense of justice and revenge, an injection of grace and mercy brought an emotional healing to the situation for all parties. Very much an example of faith in action.

It is not a preachy book. It is a story that simply has faith at its core. If faith had been absent this could easily have been a story about pain and revenge, with no conclusions. Instead it is a story of determination, perseverance, compassion and never losing hope.

Highway 35, by Chris and Denise Arthey, is available here.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Muddy Pearl, but was under no pressure to provide a favourable review.