The Truth... What is it?

Another Special Life in Christ

These testimony lives are not stories of "role models". Jesus is the role model!
These are lives wonderfully touched & changed by Jesus!


Nancy Lane, PhD.:


Lane was born into a dour Presbyterian family in Ohio and schooled in the Protestant work ethic. She admired Jesus and loved the ancient Bible stories but found little connection to her own family life, which was, to her, without happiness.

“We moved a lot. I was always the outsider,” says Lane, 58.

Frumpy and overweight, she retreated to her books and thrived on the support of teachers, who praised her for her intellect and encouraged her to apply to college. Her father objected, so it was her high school French teacher who paid her application fee to Whittenberg College.

As an adolescent, Lane was affected profoundly by the political upheavals of the 1960s, including the civil rights movement.

But while she was being taught to love “the least of these” at church, Lane says, “I started to notice some little cracks in the picture.”

She would hear her father and others dismiss black people as inferior, she says, and in that hypocrisy she found seeds of a growing alienation from God.

In college, she declared herself an atheist, finding in philosophy and science nothing to confirm the existence of God.

Lane became a hippie and a social and political radical and suffered sustained bouts of depression, attempting suicide on several occasions, even as she earned her doctorate in French literature.

She dismissed religion as so much “ridiculous mumbo jumbo” and constructed her life around a belief system of “logical positivism.” Those beliefs did not begin to change until after she came to South Carolina in 1977, married and had her only, beloved child, Laura, now 17.


“Nancy was the most intellectual person that I knew,” says her longtime friend and University of South Carolina language colleague David Hill, who teaches Spanish. “She lived almost entirely in her head.”

Lane says how she caught a hint of God’s grace after the breakup of her marriage, when her many friends rallied to her side to help her through the upheaval.

“There again, for no reason, people were wonderful,” Lane says. “I realized as I was healing from the end of my marriage, there were people whose intelligence and integrity I really admired who were religious.”

Hill and his wife, Peggy, were among those who had returned to an active Christian life.

“It really kind of surprised her when we started going back into the church,” Hill says. “It just didn’t compute that you could be intelligent and religious at the same time.”

Lane would accompany the Hills to church, usually on Christmas Eve, to watch the couple’s three children participate in pageants and appreciate the majesty of the ancient stories.

Lane experienced an epiphany on the beach at Edisto Island, S. C. in 1999, she says, sensing some spiritual force was at work within her. “I give up,” she said then.

At services at St. Simon & St. Jude Episcopal Church in Irmo, the church that would become her own, Lane refrained from taking communion until one day she leaned over and told David Hill, “I just wish it were all true.”

Hill remembers Lane telling him, “I really desperately want to believe.”

“And I kind of quoted a Spanish philosopher, a Christian existentialist, Miguel de Unamuno, who said, ‘To believe is to want to believe,’ ” Hill recalls. “And she said, ‘That’s enough.’ ”

Maybe, Hill says, it helped that he appealed to Lane’s intellect by quoting a philosopher, but, after that, there was an acceptance of faith.

“She’s clearly still on the journey, but the pain is gone,” he says. “It has given her a very peaceful outlook on life.”

Nancy Lane will greet this Easter morning with joy, suffused with a rich appreciation for the power of medicine, the compassion of loving family and friends and, above all, the grace of God.

In a freak accident that she has yet to fully piece together, the USC French professor suffered a near-fatal skull fracture last October when she fell down her brother’s basement stairs in Ohio onto a concrete floor. The basal fracture caused her brain to swell; her medical team put her chance of survival at 30 percent.

As Lane lay in a medically induced coma, as she underwent three delicate and dangerous surgeries, her family and friends began to pray for this woman they loved, a petite intellectual powerhouse who only in recent years shed her obstinate skepticism and drew close to God.

Lane, who for 35 years was a rock-hard atheist, now says, “I can say, ‘Christ has risen,’ with new reverence.”

Her spiritual awakening has been gradual and not without internal resistance. But the accident, recovery and rehabilitation have confirmed for her one incontrovertible fact: Revelation comes from the heart, not from the head.

“Grace is what I call it, in retrospect,” she says.


It is an odd thing to call a near-death experience (a converting NDE without the out of body part) a “glorious journey,” but that is how Lane sometimes explains the accident that has framed her life since October.

She now knows her near-fatal tumble triggered an enormous outpouring of love and intercessory prayers.

Her family, her daughter’s friends and basketball team, her extensive network of women friends, the university community and her church all seemed to turn their hearts to her recovery.

“It is overwhelming and overpowering, the huge amount of support and help I got,” Lane says.

After learning of the accident, her daughter Laura, a senior in the International Baccalaureate program at A.C. Flora High School; a friend of Laura; and Lane’s boyfriend, Vincent Van Brunt flew to Ohio, to be at her side. They arrived the day after the accident.

Lane had survived the first surgery performed at Aultman Hospital, a teaching hospital in Canton, Ohio. Immediately, Van Brunt, a USC chemical engineering professor, applied his passion for detail and intense personality to Lane’s medical recovery.

He began a detailed medical archive, recording every morsel of information about Lane’s daily progress.

“I got I don’t know how many phone numbers so I could communicate with every nursing shift in the ICU (intensive care unit),” says Van Brunt. “That first weekend, I might have cried a little, but I never lost faith.”

On Oct. 18, 2005, four days after the accident, Lane’s family and designated medical representatives had to decide whether Lane should undergo another surgery to relieve swelling on her brain.

“The pressure was going up,” Van Brunt says. “From the CAT scan they knew she had suffered a traumatic brain injury.”

Surgeons induced a coma and operated, reducing the swelling and clearing the area of debris.

It was touch-and-go, but her family and friends lifted her up always in thought and prayer. Her daughter, Laura, “was a rock,” says Hill, never flinching when she hardly could recognize her mother for the swelling.

St. Simon & St. Jude Episcopal held a healing service, laying hands on a surrogate in South Carolina as Lane lay in the Ohio hospital. The women of the congregation made a prayer blanket and gave it to Van Brunt to lay on her hospital bed.

Her University of South Carolina colleagues, in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures and elsewhere, gathered for a campus prayer service and wrote of their hopes for her recovery in a prayer journal that Lane now keeps on her living room coffee table.

Her ex-husband’s young daughter and her friends at the Harmony School made a get-well banner that still hangs in the living room.

Lane’s sojourn in the ICU and neurological ICU took weeks. Van Brunt saysthe turning point was just after the second week when, brought out of the coma, Lane heard her surgeon, who was half-French, speak in the language she loves.

“Her first thought was, ‘Why am I in France?’ ” Van Brunt recalls. “She cannot speak because of the tube down her throat, so she writes, ‘Where is my purse?’ The second thing she writes is “Where is my suitcase?’ The third thing she writes is, ‘I need my glasses.’ ”

Then she asks on paper, “Is it Sunday?”

Daughter Laura answered, “No Mama, it’s Saturday.”

Then Lane wrote, “What happened on ‘Desperate Housewives’?” and “Who won the World Series?”

“We knew then that she understood time and place,” Van Brunt says.

Even now, others must tell her of the events of those terrible days because she has no memory of the accident, of crawling up the basement stairs and of waking, momentarily, to tell her brother to take her to the hospital.

It is life, now, in this moment that she savors as she regains the normalcy of family and work routines, enjoying time with her daughter, who will leave for college this fall.

Sometimes, she says, “You have to die to the old false self to realize how vulnerable you are.”

To be born again is to walk among the azaleas, as she did a few days ago and drink in the beauty of spring.

Today, she’ll celebrate Easter with her parish family “being part of the body of Christ,” she says. “And I’ll see all around me the glory of God.”

This article was scrap-booked as a collected testimony, "Rebirth on this Easter morning: A former atheist reflects on glory of God",  By Carolyn Click, The State newspaper, Columbia, S. C.

ATHEISTS: As a former atheist, she is in a group of intellectual heavyweights who saw the light, HERE!

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(posted 16 April 2006; update adjustment 28 September 2015)


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