I sat in awe as I watched Kechi Okwuchi, 27, sing “Don’t Worry About Me” on America’s Got Talent. She sang in tribute to her mother who has been there for her through all the difficulties she has suffered.
Kechi Okwuchi knows more than most of us about survival. In 2005 when she was 16, she was on a plane that crash-landed in her native Nigeria. Out of more than 100 people on the plane, she was one of two who survived. Her mother thought she was dead but discovered that her daughter survived! However, Kechi suffered burns on over 65 percent of her body.
After many treatments, her family decided to move to Texas in 2007 for more treatments at Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Galveston. She has undergone more than 100 surgeries. Kechi told the TV crowd she has been singing since she was a child in Nigeria and credits music as one of the things helping her pull through the tragedy.
“Lying in the hospital bed, bandaged head to foot, not being able to move or do anything else, music was my escape. That’s why it means so much to me,” she said.
“What happened to me was horrible. However, I refuse to let it define me. Instead, I draw strength from it.”
In 2015, Okwuchi graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in economics. She was also inducted into six academic honor societies and was voted the most outstanding student for her major in economics. She was also chosen to give the commencement address to the class of 2015 at her school. Now she is inspiring millions watching America’s Got Talent, including me!
Before Kechi took to the stage to sing her final song, “Conqueror” by Estell, a video was played from a mother of two victims on that plane. The mother said: “I’m a mother of two victims of the plane crash on the 10th of December in 2005. There’s just no way anyone could’ve come out of that, but out of the fire emerged the beautiful Kechi.” She added, “I call you my living angel, a walking miracle.”
In an article published in 2012, Kechi gives credit to three things for her ongoing success, which she calls her support system.
“There’s truly nothing like prayer. It reinforces faith, which gives you courage. It calms me when things get really hard to deal with. If there is one thing I learned through this experience, it is the value of faith.”
“Then of course, there’s my dear family, who have been nothing but solid rocks on which I lean on.”
“I know it sounds cliché, but it’s the absolute truth.”
“Without these three elements, I may have made it this far regardless, but I would not be the same person I am right now, mentally.”
Keshi said: “My friends and family keep me going. Their love, their presence, physical and emotional, their prayers and the prayers of all who support me. I am fully aware that the recovery period after any surgery is never easy or short, but I also know from experience that not only will God see me through the procedure; He’ll also see me through the recuperation.”
Since then she has gone through 25 more surgeries before landing on America’s Got Talent in 2017, proceeding to the finals.
How many of us can be blown away with even the smallest trials that come our way? I ask myself that question. However, this young woman is an example for all of us because she is a fighter—but she is not without the help from her three life supports: God, her family and friends.
Although we can see the visible scars on her body that occurred from the major burns in 2005, she has proven that beauty is only skin-deep! She is an example of courage and fortitude while overcoming the greatest obstacles in life! She has turned her suffering around to inspire others. In addition, she is not shy to give God credit, which she did with her last performance.
There are so many stories of people with courage. Have you heard the expression “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”? How tough are we when the going gets tough?
Just like Keshi, who called on God for help, we have access to our great God to call on. God is there to reach down and hold our hands, and to help us get through the toughest times. He says, “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13 Isaiah 41:13For I the LORD your God will hold your right hand, saying to you, Fear not; I will help you.
American King James Version×). And “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 Isaiah 41:10Fear you not; for I am with you: be not dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.
American King James Version×).
God is our life support in this difficult life. He loved us so much that He gave His only Son for us so we could live! He is there for us when we fall, He is there to share our joys, He is there to help us through our fears! Just as Kechi’s mom was there for her through the pain and now witnessing her daughter’s highest accomplishment with joy on America’s Got Talent. God will always be with us. Even when no one else is, God is always with us.
Kechi truly is a survivor, and she did it with the right help, with God being the most important helper of all!