His voice, still being restored, sounded raspy and just above a strained whisper. So 17-year-old Cameron Fathauer wonders how he will sound when speaking Saturday before 240 or more people during his roadblocks-to-Christianity conference at YES Cinema in downtown Columbus.

Fathauer is recovering from a serious head injury sustained when he was struck by a vehicle Sept. 18 while longboarding in front of his Columbus home.

The Columbus North High School senior mentioned — along with parents, Brett and Lora Fathauer — that he is resting.

Resting in God’s goodness, as he put it, as he recuperates after being in a two-week coma at IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. That’s where he was admitted in critical condition after a LifeLine helicopter rushed him there.

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He calls his current condition a miracle.

“There’s really no other explanation,” Fathauer said from his family’s home on Marilyn Street off Rocky Ford Road.

Methodist doctors, well acquainted with serious head trauma from accidents at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, initially and repeatedly told Fathauer’s family that his progress toward everyday living and functioning probably would require an 18-month timeline. Yet he came home walking and talking five weeks after the accident.

Brett Fathauer said the family was praying and believing for healing and restoration.

Lora Fathauer, a nurse practitioner at Southeastern Indiana Gastroenterology in Columbus, understood her son’s challenges as well as anyone. She laughed when asked to explain his progress, which she acknowledged has amazed physicians and therapists first at Methodist and then at Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis.

“God … is always a factor that no one can ever fully measure or fully explain,” the former church worship leader said.

Cameron Fathauer loves measuring and explaining.

That’s one reason why he decided on the apologetics conference, “Why I’m Not a Christian,” for his high school senior project. The free event from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. will feature speakers including Tim Tallent, his pastor at First Baptist Church of Hartsville, and local youth minister George Cockrell, who has had a powerful effect on the recovering teen.

Cockrell will speak on why a loving God still allows suffering.

The minister mentioned that part of his focus will be that the Christian life can be filled with hardship, such as Fathauer’s accident and rehabilitation, or persecution that others experience.

“All we have to do is look back at biblical characters, not the least of which is Jesus,” Cockrell said.

Cameron Fathauer remained careful recently while speaking about Saturday’s conference: “This really isn’t about me. I don’t want this to be about me.”

Tallent can understand that.

“Even though wonderful things have happened in Cameron’s body, the much more dramatic thing has happened in his heart,” Tallent said of God infusing him with more passion for the Gospel.

Some of the student’s high school friends are now examining their own spiritual beliefs after seeing Fathauer’s recovery and an outlook devoid of complaints other than wanting to go home from the hospital, his parents said.

For now, specifics such as his return to school, his surgery to replace the bone removed from his skull to relieve pressure on the brain, and some other elements remain uncertain or inexact.

So be it, according to the student and his family. He begins outpatient therapy Friday in Carmel.

They know that what could have killed him has brought him a new life testifying to God’s goodness — so much so that the family involved in the accident is considering attending the weekend conference.

“Knowing that God loves us and is in control — in that we rest,” his mom said.

Even if Cameron Fathauer’s voice is no more than a whisper Saturday, he is determined to let his story of restoration speak loudly.

Questions and answers

What: Cameron Fathauer’s senior project is a conference, “Why I’m Not a Christian,” highlighting answers to various objections to the faith and obstacles to people becoming a follower of Christ.

Target audience: “Skeptics, saints and searchers,” Cameron Fathauer said. “Virtually, that means this project is directed toward anybody and everybody, Christian and non-Christian.”

When: 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Where: YES Cinema, Fourth and Jackson streets in Columbus.

Admission: Free. Canned goods for Columbus’ Love Chapel food pantry suggested.

Speakers: Local youth ministry leader George Cockrell; Tim Tallent, pastor of First Baptist Church of Hartsville; Dan DeWitt, dean of Boyce College in Louisville, Kentucky; Jim Pursley, pastor of Sovereign Christ Bible Fellowship in Columbus; and Kevin Ridder, pastor of Bible Baptist Church in North Vernon.

Themes: Can You Trust the Bible? How Can a Good God Send People to Hell? How Can a Good God Allow Suffering and Evil? Why is Jesus the Only Way?

Information: christianconference.net and the Facebook page at Why I’m Not a Christian — a Senior Project.

About Cameron Fathauer's injury

Diffuse axonal injury isn’t the result of a blow to the head. Instead, it results from the brain moving back and forth in the skull as a result of acceleration or deceleration. Automobile accidents, sports-related accidents, violence, falls and child abuse such as shaken baby syndrome are common causes of diffuse axonal injury. When acceleration or deceleration causes the brain to move within the skull, axons, the parts of the nerve cells that allow neurons to send messages between them, are disrupted. 

As tissue slides over tissue, a shearing injury occurs. This causes the lesions that are responsible for unconsciousness, as well as the vegetative state that occurs after a severe head injury.

SOURCE: brainandspinalcord.org

Cameron Fathauer's blog

The student’s blog on a range of topics and how they relate to the Christian faith is dearmrchristian.com.

Shortly after his accident, it averaged 800 hits per day, according to his family.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.