Suffering injuries from a roadside bomb in Afghanistan would likely be enough to shake or even the shatter the faith of most; but for one South Texas man, the exact opposite happened.
For Army Sergeant Mario Lopez, Jr., who was born in Corpus Christi and raised in Alice, that near-death experience actually solidified his faith and inspired him to share his story. Thursday night, he will be doing that for the first time before a large audience.
Lopez believes there is a purpose, plan and design behind everything, and that things happen for a reason.
"When I was in Afghanistan, I would work out constantly," Lopez said. "I put on 20 extra pounds that was my normal weight. 20 pounds on my frame. That's a lot of weight, and when I came out of the hospital, I went in weighing 180. When I came out I weighed 106. So if I had not had that extra 20 pounds, I wouldn't have survived."
Lopez said he has seen and lived so many miracles in his own life, that he believes and knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there is a God.
Lopez himself is a living, breathing, walking and talking miracle. He was the First Baptist Church in Alice Thursday, and will be sharing his story with others Thursday evening, telling them that miracles are possible.
It was Aug. 13, 2008, when Lopez was on a routine mission in Afghanistan. An IED hit his truck, causing it to catch on fire. Lopez was wearing a seat belt, and was pinned underneath, trapped in the flames.
"I got burned on 54-percent of my body. I got crushed, you know. The IED alone could have killed me, you know. Just the blast," Lopez said. "But you know, here I am, and with a sound mind, you know. I'm not on any meds whatsoever. How could I not be on meds?"
During his recovery process, Lopez underwent a procedure to expand his body tissue that ended up having complications and led to internal bleeding. He said he got a bad batch of blood and ended up getting a fever of 108, but also somehow miraculously survived that, and did not suffer brain damage.
Lopez was in Afghanistan for four months before that bomb went off, and before that he served a year in Iraq. He believes he survived and is here for a reason, and that reason is to tell others miracles are possible, and God is real.
If you're in the Alice area, Lopez will be sharing his story at 6:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church on East Second Street. He hopes it will be the first of many such events at lots of different venues.
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