Community Portrait: Girls rally community of prayer to help accident victim

Community Portrait
By: Story and photos Michael Kirby
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Webster’s Dictionary defines a miracle as an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs. Some believe that for a miracle to happen three things must be evident: faith (believing in the unbelievable), purity and prayer. Wikipedia cites that a miracle is seen as an event that is statistically unlikely but is a beneficial or wonderful occurrence. The Christmas season is a great time to believe in miracles, and even more exciting if you witness one. It would be a hard argument to convince the English sisters, 17-year-old Emily and 15-year-old Alyson, that miracles do not exist. The sisters attend Forest Lake Christian School, are great athletes, honor students and fantastic young ladies. They attend Auburn Grace Community Church. On the evening of Sept. 19 Emily and Alyson received a call from their grandmother, Auburn’s Rachel Switko, informing them that a neighbor’s grandson, 19-year-old Zachary Orris, had been in a terrible single-car accident and was in grave condition. He was life-flighted to Sutter Roseville Hospital. Orris, a Garden Valley resident and Golden Sierra High School graduate, had slid off a slick road in a freak accident and rolled his vehicle. He broke several bones in both legs and had a brain injury. He went in and out of consciousness on the way to the hospital. The sisters’ grandmother had been asked to speak to the “man upstairs” by her neighbor and she asked the girls to pray for a young man they had never met. “As soon as my grandmother called, I posted on Facebook and asked people to pray for him and his family,” said Emily English. “I also sent a text out to everyone on my contact list asking for prayers.” Later, the situation worsened as Orris needed surgery to correct an embolism in his brain. He suffered surgical complications, and did not awake until six days later. Orris spent a month in the hospital recovering and is still currently in physical therapy. That first night, Emily English estimates that 250 people got the word and were praying for Orris. Updates were posted on his condition and from there it just grew and it’s almost impossible to estimate how many people were praying as the prayer chain grew from person to person in the following days and weeks. “There is a Bible verse that says something like the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective, and it talks about curing illnesses and sickness if we have faith in God,” said Emily English. “That’s what these kids and their families had, incredible faith and confidence in God and God totally came through.” English believes a miracle took place. “I believe that it was a miracle without a doubt, and it shouldn’t have surprised us,” she said. Last week Emily and Alyson and their grandmother, Rachel Switko, met Orris for the first time. Orris stopped by Switko’s Auburn apartment with his parents, Kevin and Bonnie, and a very uplifting visit ensued, a visit no one imagined a couple of months ago. Gone were the concerns of death. Hope for a speedy full recovery is the new prayer and laughter replaced discomfort and fear. Orris and his parents expressed their appreciation for the prayers of the English sisters and their friends. Miracle or not, two local girls rallied a community behind a person they had never met and today he is on the mend. “You kind of take for granted that you live in a wonderful community, then something like this happens and you get overwhelmed by how much people care,” said Bonnie Orris, Zac’s mother.