Senni, the faithful 10-year mixed breed dog that stayed by his fallen master. Forsman says prayer and Senni are some of the reasons he is still alive. [Photo: Courtesy of Fia Forsman]

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Marcos Paseggi

Senior Correspondent, Adventist Review

Prayer, Dog Saved Me from Freezing to Death, Says Adventist Pastor

In Finland, retired minister shows gratitude in the wake of harrowing ordeal.

A retired Seventh-day Adventist pastor in Finland credits the power of prayer, his faithful dog, and a Good Samaritan couple as the main reasons he is still able to tell the tale. Mika Forsman was rescued by a couple and emergency services after he fell and broke his hip in sub-zero temperatures just outside his isolated cottage by a lake in Nummela on February 25, 2018.

“We have a living God who hears prayer,” Forsman told Finnish TV station MTV and The Evening Paper, the main newspaper in Finland that reported the incident, when sharing his ordeal. “This certainly strengthens my faith.”

A Bad Fall, No One to Call

It all happened a few weeks ago. It was Sunday morning, the last day of the Winter Olympics, and Forsman, 70, was watching a Finnish ski racer perform on TV. His wife and daughter had traveled to London for a few days, but he had decided to stay at his small cottage by Myllylampi Pond. It is an area that comes alive in summer. In winter, however, seeing people around is uncommon.

  • Retired Seventh-day Adventist pastor Mika Forsman recovers in hospital after falling and breaking his hip in sub-zero temperatures outside his cottage on February 24, 2018.[Photo: Courtesy of Fia Forsman]

  • The Forsmans' small summer cottage by Myllylampi Pond, in Nummela, Finland. Pastor Mika Forman was about to freeze to death after falling outside his cottage when he was rescued on February 24, 2018. [Photo: Courtesy of Fia Forsman]

After Finland secured a medal in the race, Forsman took a break and went outside for a minute. He was wearing slippers, lounge pants, and a T-shirt. But as soon as he walked outside, he slipped down the stairs, fell face-down to the ground, and—he would find out later—broke his hip.

“It knocked all the wind out of me,” he told the newspaper. “I let out a long scream after getting through the worst of the paralysis. My legs did not move, and only one of my hands could move a little.”

As Forsman felt the sub-zero temperatures hit him, he remembered thinking, “This is not looking good.”

At first, he did not cry for help, since he felt it was highly unlikely anyone would be close enough to his cottage to hear him.

“I did not call for help immediately because of a sense of hopelessness,” he said. “I had to keep my energy and see if there was any way to stay warm.”

The pastor prayed silently, as his body cooled quickly, and soon his clothes froze to the ground and his body. Then he started to shout for help.

“I yelled, ‘Help!’ ‘Please help!’”, he shared.

He got no answer.

Faithful Friend

When Forsman went outside, his dog Senni followed him. According to the newspaper, she was bewildered by her master’s strange behavior, bustled around him and licked him, puzzled. The 10-year-old mixed-breed dog remained near her master in silence.

“I was trying to get up with my fingernail and fingertips, but I could not get moving. The dog sensed that something unusual had happened. She was just next to me and tried to keep me company,” Forsman told the newspaper.

When her master started to shout, however, Senni began barking loudly.

“She started to bark furiously and kept doing it,” said Forsman. “She obviously knew what her job was.” He told the newspaper that from the time Senni joined the family as a puppy she had never acted that way.

Answered Prayer

Forsman kept on praying and shouting, and Senni kept on barking. After many minutes, and when Forsman felt he was about to pass out because of the cold, he noticed the dog fix her gaze on something while continuing to bark. A couple approached the cottage by crossing the ice from the opposite shore.

“The dog saw them. I was behind an embankment, but I mustered enough strength that I was able to raise a hand and call out,” Forsman told the newspaper.

The man covered the pastor with some clothes, alerted the ambulance, and left to guide the rescue personnel to the right road.

First responders cut off Forsman’s frozen clothes and covered him with a thermal blanket. By this time his body temperature was only about 86 °F (30 °C), as it is estimated he had been on the ground for about 40 minutes. He was then rushed to nearby Lohja Hospital.

“The professional skills with which [first responders] bustled and did their work is a source of great gratitude,” said Forsman, whose badly injured hip was operated on the same evening and now has two metal bolts and a long rehabilitation process ahead.

Stronger Faith

Although the accident almost took his life, Forsman is still able to joke about the whole situation. “When the head is a fool, the whole body suffers,” he quips with a smile.
Speaking more seriously, the pastor says he wants to get better so he can go and thank the couple who came to his rescue. “It is clear that without that couple I would not be alive,” he told the newspaper.

Forsman shows surprise that despite the sub-zero weather that Sunday, someone came to the cottage and at the last moment saved him from freezing to death. “For some reason, they were there that very weekend,” he says.

And to anyone who would listen, he adds, “No doubt, we have a living God who hears prayers!”

Lisa Beardsley-Hardy contributed to this story.


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