Soldier finds life as he faces death

Keir Tayler and others
Keir Tayler (front row, second from right) with fellow Selous Scouts in the Rhodesian army.
Keir Tayler and others
Keir Tayler (front row, second from right) with fellow Selous Scouts in the Rhodesian army.

Keir Tayler was a Sergeant Major in the Rhodesian army, a member of the Selous Scouts, an elite Tracker Combat Unit tasked with hunting down terrorists, when he was shot through both legs in the midst of a covert operation.

"I suddenly felt a searing pain rip through my legs and felt a burning deep in my bones: I had been shot. I looked down and saw a fountain of blood spurting out of my right thigh. My left knee was completely torn open. I put my gloved hand into my torn camo denims to feel for my kneecap; it was still there. If I had been shot in a femoral artery, I knew I was going to bleed to death within two minutes.

"I was dying and in a moment I felt time slow down and an incredible light surrounded me," he remembers.

Keir wasn't a believer in God. He had heard Bible stories as a child and been to chapel at school but all of a sudden, he says that in that moment he knew he was encountering God.

As Keir describes it in his book A weapon in His hands:
"Instantly, my heart was filled with doubt and fear. Where would I go once I died? I knew I hadn't lived the life of a Christian; I wasn't a good person at all. In that moment, I remembered my Dad reading the Bible to me when I was six or seven years old; I knew the most important thing was what Jesus had said on the cross: 'Into your hands I commit my Spirit.' I thought: As I die, I'll say the same thing. Religion or Christianity didn't factor in. I was a dying man - it was all useless now.

"In the midst of all the chaos around me, with blood gushing from my thigh, I shouted, 'Lord, if You want my life, You can have it!' Instantly, a brilliant light surrounded me. The pain, the fear, the terror of death and the carnage around me left. I was so captivated by that light that I could see or feel nothing else. There was a Presence, an extreme peace and an incredible feeling of awe. It was almost tangible. Time stood still.

"I was in a situation that required the greatest amount of concern but I was suddenly not worried. It was the first time that I realized there really was a God. I had prayed the prayer of surrender and I meant it. I wasn't expecting to live; but I now knew there was a God and He was surrounding me."

Keir, now 70 years old, recalls, "Jesus literally saved my life that day as I was bleeding out. He became not just my Saviour but my Lord, and from that day to now I have dedicated my life to Him."

His book goes on: "I managed to move to the back of the vehicle. At that point, the brilliant light of God seemed to dim, and regular daylight was again around me. The machine gunner was working the gun, and the activity of war continued.

"We were soon moving. The vehicle jolted and bounced beneath me and I felt terrible pain. Finally, the vehicle stopped and a team of medics appeared, pulling me out to see if they needed to amputate my leg in the field. Somehow, they managed to stabilize me and stop the bleeding in my leg. They attached a saline drip and shot a dose of morphine in my arm before they loaded me up again to move on.

"Behind me, the carnage was real and awful. I could hear the sounds of death, the sounds of shots still being fired.

"I felt physical pain and despair acutely. I wasn't prepared (nor do I believe anyone could have prepared me) to see human beings ripped apart the way I did that day. The scenes of brutal carnage kept playing over again and again in my head."

As his unit bounced along in the bush that day Keir, wounded, bandaged and without a weapon lay in the back of the vehicle, helpless. But he remembers a remarkable provision of God. "Throughout that day, I drank quite a lot of water and whenever I reached for the bottle it was filled and cool. It was a gift of mercy from a God I had only just met."

Thirty-four hours later, they arrived at a remote hospital, where the doctors operated on Keir and managed to save his leg from amputation. By this time he had developed pneumonia in both lungs as a result of the morphine.

Eventually he recovered and, due to his rugged determination was, against all predictions, able to stand and walk without any assistance by the time he went home.

With his new-found empathy for hospital patients, Keir decided to become a doctor and "make something of himself", and his wife Callie went to work to support him through university.

Then one day, after Keir had told his God-encounter story to a fellow Christian, his friend challenged him: "Well? You told God He could have your life. What does that mean to you? Where will you go from here?"

Keir went straight up to his room, knelt next to the bed (the only way he knew how to pray) and just said simply, "Thank you, God. My life is yours." His friend prayed with him that God would use Keir.

Now, years later, Keir can say victoriously, "God has made ALL the difference in my life. He saved my spirit, restored my soul and healed me not only physically but also from all the racial hatred and anger that I carried. He gave me a hope and a future beyond the trauma of war and destruction. He delivered me from the devastating effects of trauma, fear and death."

Keir and his wife have since served as leaders in various churches in Africa and seen God do many miraculous healings. They now travel internationally to encourage and teach believers.

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