Crown professor shares improbable story of survival

By Leann Bohn

By all accounts, Dr. Gary Newton, professor of Discipleship Ministries at Crown College and three time organ transplant survivor, should not be alive to tell his story. Yet, poised comfortably in a brown leather club chair, feet resting on the matching ottoman, and his wife, Joy, sitting in a chair by his side, he explained how God’s providence and the community that rallied around him helped him to survive.

Newton, a diabetic since he was 13, did not expect to live a long life.

"I’ve known all my life that my future is not a given, that living long and healthy is not a given, and that it would be abnormal if I lived past my 50s," he said.

It was a fact he was up front with when he first met Joy. "I am not going to necessarily live very long or have perfect health," he confessed to his then future wife. His compromised health didn’t scare Joy off, though. They married, had three children and Newton continued on his path of ministering and teaching.

The diabetes caught up with him in 2008, however, when he and his wife were living in Huntington, Ind.

Complications from the disease lead to kidney deterioration and a virus attacked his pancreas. He was placed on a five-year waiting list for both a kidney and pancreas transplant, but a car accident that could have easily taken his life was instead a catalyst for moving him up on the waiting list.

"I was driving, but lost consciousness for about half an hour," he recalled.

Trapped in his vehicle in an unconscious state, yet somehow navigating the vehicle, through four traffic lights, his …

For the rest of the story, see this week’s Waconia Patriot.