In February 2018, BJU’s master electrician Andy Martin had just placed second in his age group in an 8K when he collapsed in a Furman University parking lot. Two students saw him and called for help. Public safety officer Bob Gibson and Bon Secours St. Francis athletic trainer Ryan Sanders both came running with automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and began CPR.
Sanders and Gibson were able to restart Martin’s heart by the time paramedics arrived to take Martin to the hospital. Doctors determined he’d had a heart attack and needed a stent.
Though Martin remembers little between the parking lot at Furman and the recovery room in the hospital, he said, “One of the first things I thought about … is God is in control.” God had placed him at the right place and time to get the help he needed when he needed it.
“I had no idea that I passed out,” he said. “Two Furman students (were) behind me. It (was) after a race when there’s a lot of medical help already in place. I had this heart attack (and) God had every single thing in place for me to get the attention I needed. So, it opened my eyes up to really realizing how much God is in control.”
Martin’s church had been studying a list of catechisms, and he focused on one during this time: “What is God’s providence? God’s providence is His most holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing of all His creatures and all their actions, to His own glory.”
Martin’s wife — who didn’t learn about his heart attack until he was out of surgery — meditated on a related catechism: “What is the benefit of our knowing about God’s providence? The benefit of our knowing about God’s providence is that it makes us patient in adversity and thankful in prosperity so that we place our firm trust in our Heavenly Father concerning everything that befalls us.”
Said Martin: “It’s like the Lord was allowing some events to happen in our life to … open our eyes to some of the teaching that we were having at church.”
Running toward Recovery
“My doctor said no more competitive racing, but he didn’t say no more running, and I love to run,” said Martin, 59. “In my mind, I never really quit.”
Martin, who has been running since high school, was placed in a cardiac rehabilitation program. “The first day,” he said, “they put you on a treadmill, so they want you exercising. They slowly built me back up to the point where they were comfortable to let me get out and get in (a) race again.”
By July 2018, he was running in another 5K. “It was the slowest 5K I had ever done, but at least I got in a race and took off.”
Martin is now the captain of BJU’s Greenville Track Club Corporate Shield team. The team competes against teams of other Greenville area companies and organizations.
Advice for Others
The lesson both Martin and Sanders want others to learn from Martin’s story is to be prepared.
First, be prepared to help others by earning CPR/AED certification. “I believe it is important for everyone to get CPR/AED certified,” said Sanders, who now serves as head athletic trainer to the BJU Bruins. “It’s a small expense and time to take the class when you can use those skills to save someone’s life that you can’t put a price tag on.”
More importantly, Martin urges others to be prepared for the end of life. “If I had died in my 50s, that’s kind of young for life expectancy now,” he said, “but it’s opened my eyes to being ready to meet the Savior. … I have all the confidence in the world that I know Jesus is my Savior. … I was ready if the Lord would have taken me that day. I was ready to go. … Are you ready?”