Sisters Cindy and Lisa Klassen are working to turn one of the worst times of their lives into something positive for others.
Lisa, 28, was in a horrific car accident in February 2008 when her car jumped a guardrail on the north Perimeter Highway and landed in the Red River. Passersby resuscitated Lisa, who has since recovered and is now back to work as a flight instructor.
Upon hearing about the accident her sister Cindy, an Olympic speedskating star, left her preparations for the World Championships to return to Winnipeg.
Now the two sisters, who were raised as Mennonites in North Kildonan, are sharing the story of how the accident shaped their individual journeys of faith.
The Klassens spoke at Grant Memorial Church on April 12, and then at Fort Gibraltar in support of the Aulneau Renewal Centre and at Fort Garry Place in support of Calvin Christian School on April 13.
Though they have shared their story in other cities, the miniseries marks the first time the Klassens have spoken in their hometown.
"It’s an honour, and anytime we get to share our story of faith," said Cindy. "It’s a great privilege for us, and to be able to do it together, it’s really special."
"There’s something really special about being able to speak at home," said Lisa. "We’re so grateful that we’ve had this opportunity."
Lisa explained she’s worked hard to have an effect on the lives of others since the accident, as she’s gained insight into what she can and can’t control in her life.
"I didn’t really grasp the situation – what had happened. But in reflecting on it, I realized God has been taking care of me throughout my entire life," she said. "I’ve learned to be grateful for the blessings He’s given me.
"I couldn’t control the car accident, but I do have the ability to impact others with my life."
Cindy said she took "perspective" from the accident, as the focus of her life changed in a split-second after hearing about her sister’s condition.
"I was out competing, getting ready for the World Championships and then all of a sudden, it’s a life-changing experience having Lisa in an accident, not knowing if she’s going to survive," she said. "It really helps you to think about what’s important in life.
"It’s an honour to be able to race for Canada and represent our country, but it helps you to put in perspective how short that time is, and it’s a small part of my life."
Cindy explained that since she and Lisa have had very different lives, they’ve had significantly different journeys in their faith. However, the two agreed since they have the same background, it’s easy to learn from the new experiences they each have.
"We were raised being involved in the same things, so that had a big influence on our lives, and I think it influenced the direction our lives would take spiritually," said Lisa. "But certainly, we’ve had our different ups and downs within our faith."
The sisters both said public speaking doesn’t come naturally to them, but felt the challenge was worth overcoming when seeing the good that could come from it.
"It is tough to do public speaking, but I try to recognize all the things I have to be grateful for after the car accident," said Lisa. "I shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to share that with people – how faithful God has been in my life."