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Adult Contemporary

Deborah Klassen

Bio by The 700 Club Award winning music artist, Deborah Klassen, has been blessed with a beautiful singing voice. But she is no stranger to heartache. Deborah has survived abuse, rejection, tremendous fear, clinical depression (resulting in a six-week psychiatric hospitalization), financial loss and the disappointment of torn relationships and faded dreams. Compounding her struggles, she has had to endure the pain of seeing her only son Ryan endure life threatening illnesses and a near fatal car accident.

At age seven Ryan survived spinal meningitis. Only three years later, he was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of facial cancer that not only left his face disfigured, but his emotions and spirit as well. Not long after, her husband Earl was diagnosed with kidney cancer.

When Ryan turned 16 years old, he underwent a 12 and a half hour surgery to reshape his face. They literally took his skull apart.

“If you would have asked me at the start of each phase of my journey if I was going to make it through, I would have said no,” Deborah says. But by the grace of God, she did and each challenge taught her more and more how to turn to Christ for her strength and trust Him for the future.

In March of 2003, the Klassens felt led to leave their homeland of Canada and move to Chattanooga, TN. Three months later, Deborah was dealt yet another devastating blow. Ryan was involved in a near-fatal, catastrophic collision with an SUV while driving his small Toyota Echo. He was lifted by helicopter to the local emergency unit where he immediately went into surgery under the care of the top Level-One trauma surgeons in the region.

There was little hope for his survival. Ryan had a severe closed-head injury, severe caratoid artery damage, a severely broken mandible, broken left jawbone, all the bones in his face were fractured, and he broke both arms and legs. During surgery the doctors removed his spleen, his lungs collapsed and filled with blood, his gall bladder was damaged, and his liver torn.

“Ryan experienced the worst lateral rupture of a diaphragm that the doctors had seen in nine years.” Deborah recalls. “It was so bad that it took three lines of sutures to close it, but in the mean-time it had displaced Ryan’s heart by ripping it from its protective sac and flipping with his stomach so that his heart was where his stomach should be and his stomach was where his heart should be.”

Ryan was in a coma, had chest tubes and was on a breathing machine. He was then admitted to the trauma ICU where he was hooked up to at least 20 machines. Over the next 13 days, Ryan underwent eight more major surgeries where they implanted titanium rods and screws, corrected breaks, removed shrapnel, sutured tears… the list goes on.

The impact of Ryan’s condition was nearly unbearable for the family. “When one member of the family hurts, it affects all,” Deborah says. “We were in a brand new country to us, having to navigate through unknown legal and medical procedures. This took its toll and only added to the stress.”

In the end, with no medical insurance, the Klassens’ medical bills totaled over one million dollars and without a green card, they couldn’t work. They were in a desperate situation that God, and only God, could redeem. And redeem it He did!

With “no human reason” that Ryan should be alive, he did indeed live. The doctors said he would never walk again and he walks! He has steadily improved and continues to heal from his injuries. Ryan does have some brain damage which impairs his processing skills. Ryan is a living testimony of God’s faithfulness and healing power. The Klassens remained steadfast in their faith in God through all of the circumstances and through a vast range of emotions.

Today, their extensive medical bills are completely paid off thanks to benefit concerts, gifts from friends, hard work and the mercy of God. Deborah continues to sing and minister throughout the country and often travels with Kay Arthur as her worship leader. She lives in Chattanooga, TN with her husband Earl, son Ryan and daughter Andrea.

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