Silke Schwarz, winner of the Golden Medal in Épée Fencing at the Paralympics in Atlanta/USA and afterwards twice European Champion, represents her history, but one that really encourages. 

Helicopter, snowboarding, extreme sports in a mountain range. Insane! And then it happened. I crashed into a snowed up crevasse. Helplessly locked up. Pain like hell. Awake and fainted by turns I just thought: "This is the end!" Then finally the helpers arrived but it took hours until they had me up there. And then they rushed me with the helicopter to the next hospital. The bad news: Paraplegia! With careful regards the medicals gave me this shocking message about my diagnosis and I was stunned. Desperation, grief, anger and a huge emptiness were the feelings I delved into in turns. Motionlessly I laid in my sick-bed. Thinking and breeding grieved me with mental anguish. Sitting in a wheelchair for a lifetime! Does whatever is worth living come to an end now? Are only invalidhood and personal humiliation to come? What about my plans for the future? What about my partnership, family, profession, hobbies,...? There was no answer!

New hope! Some kind of longing rose up inside me, a longing for something I could hold on to. A something to rescue me from depressions I surely was going to face. A something to confirm all the absurdities of my life and unprime all my drawbacks. Something to give me strenght and peace, hope and patience. In spring 1993 I received a Bible as gift from my mother. I eagerly started reading it and studied it regularly. Somehow I began to know that God had the answers to my questions. There was a male nurse looking after me in a patient and frienly way. He was different from the others. He was a Christian. I remember how often we had dicussions about God and the faith in Jesus Christ. More and More I started realizing this is not about any kind of Church rituals. Genuine faith means getting into a living and true relationship with God and His Son Jesus Christ. He loves us people and is not distant even in the most enormous trouble. Yes, I wanted to know him. And set my hope in HIM!

The crucial point! Another time I got visited by the religious male nurse who was willing to listen to my questions kindly and patiently. He explained the Bible to me. And then he invited me to surrender deliberately to Jesus Christ. Yes! And then I took the chance of this final step. How? We prayed to Jesus Christ together. I put my old life and the life I was living until that moment into God's Hand and put my new life in faith under the authority of the Heavenly Father. I felt sorry for whatever I had done wrong before and accepted God's forgiveness. I asked Jesus to stand by me on my new path. After I said "Amen" I suddely sensed a peace in my mind I could not explain. I was very calm. And then a feeling of wonderful happiness rose up in me! Now I really achieved the Golden Medal!

Meanwhile I practise competitive sports as I sit in the wheelchair: Wheelchair Fencing! Jesus Christ led me to the "paralympics" (Olympiad for disabled athletes) in Atlanta/USA. That is where I won the Golden Medal in Épée Fencing. Afterwards I also became twice a European Champion. To me it is almost unbelievable. The Bible verse of 1st Peter 2, 9: "....that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.", is indicated on my face-guard. This verse became a maxim in my life.

Five years now I have been spending in the wheelchair realizing Jesus is always with me in joy and sorrow, pain and helplessness, business and everyday's life and just as well in my competitive sports. This is what I am so grateful about. God speaks to everyone who believes and trusts in him: "Fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strenghten you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand." Isaiah 41, 10
Silke Schwarz

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