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Finding light out of the darkest despair

Kristen Jane Anderson was only 17 years old when she decided that she wanted to end her life.

Following the death of five people close to her and a traumatic sexual assault, her overwhelming depression was her reason for laying down on a set of train tracks not far from her home in Illinois.

She closed her eyes and waited to die.

Before the engineer of the oncoming train could bring the train to a stop, 33 freight cars passed over her at 55 miles per hour. It was only after the train stopped that Kristen realized she was still alive. As she looked around, trying to figure out if she was just caught up in a horrible dream, she saw her severed legs 10 feet away.

As the song ‘Amazing Grace’ played in a loop in her mind, she was certain that this was the end for her, but it wasn’t. Paramedics arrived within minutes and were able to bring her to the hospital.

She lost both her legs, but otherwise made a full recovery.

“I was angry with the paramedics for trying to save me,” said Anderson, who never lost consciousness. “With all of my being, I wanted to die.”

After losing her legs, Anderson’s battle with depression only got tougher, as on top of her suicidal thoughts came unrelenting pain. In the midst of her darkest days, Kristen met with a friend of her family’s who encouraged her to develop a relationship with God and she was able to find hope, faith and a purpose for living again.

Since that event, Anderson studied at the Moody Bible Institute and founded the organization ‘Reaching You Ministries,’ through which she seeks to help those who are hurting, hopeless, lost, depressed and suicidal. She has been featured on Oprah and is a popular speaker at colleges, women’s and youth events, churches, and suicide prevention outreaches.

Anderson will recount her tale while visiting Woodside Bible Fellowship in Elmira next weekend.

“As a teenager, she experienced the death of several of her friends which led to her depression. We feel that this talk will come at the right time in light of the recent tragic death of Miles Hamilton,” said Heidi Konig, director of connecting at Woodside, referencing the death last month of an Elmira teen in a traffic accident.

Konig heard about Anderson’s presentation through a colleague and thought that it would be a timely and appropriate message for both the youth group and the congregation.

“We hope people will realize that true hope is only found in Jesus Christ,” said Konig “And that he gives meaning to both life and death.”

Anderson will be speaking at the youth Christmas banquet Dec. 3 at 8 p.m., again Dec. 4 at 8 a.m. and at both services on Sunday morning, 9:15 and 11 a.m.

A little more local for your inbox.

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