On three-year anniversary of crash, pastor has new lease on life, new perspective for ministry

Mark and Elaine Moore are seen with their grandchildren.

Repaired & Renewed

Curiosity brought the man to Main Street Baptist Church in Grand Saline one Sunday back in 2022. Though he didn’t attend the church, the man was intrigued by its interim pastor, Mark Moore.

“Are you the Mark Moore who was in the wreck?” the man asked. 

When Moore replied in the affirmative, the man shrugged. “I own the wrecking yard where your car was towed,” he said. “I can’t believe anyone lived through that. I heard you were over here and I had to come see for myself.”

The fact Moore was not only alive but preaching following the devastating June 17, 2021, four-car accident near the tiny East Texas town of Ben Wheeler remains a testament to God’s grace and Moore’s determination three years later.

“I can’t believe anyone lived through that. I heard you were over here and I had to come see for myself.”

A life-changing trauma

Moore’s was the third vehicle in a pileup that left him trapped, the driver’s side of his crew cab pickup crushed and crumpled like aluminum foil. 

Moore said he remembers nothing about the accident and its immediate aftermath. He discovered that the first people on the scene were a couple coming from Canton, an emergency medical technician named Patrick Baldauf and his wife, Mindy, a nurse. It was Mindy who first noticed Moore hidden by his truck’s deployed airbag.

When volunteer firefighters arrived on the scene, Patrick guided them in cutting Moore out of the wreck safely before he was life-flighted to an area hospital.

“If it wasn’t for Patrick, I would have lost my right foot,” Moore said. “He held my head for 45 minutes till the helicopter arrived.”

Meanwhile, Mindy called Moore’s wife, Elaine, to tell her of the accident. Later, Moore puzzled over how Mindy knew his wife’s contact information. “You told it to me,” Mindy explained.

“I don’t remember anything,” he said. About the first thing he does recall is being in the hospital and awakening after being in a coma for seven days to see Elaine standing over him.

“Mark, you’re going to be OK … and we are going to be found faithful to God throughout this new journey we are on,”  Elaine said, alluding to the surgeries, rehab, and recovery to follow.

Moore publicly thanked Patrick and Mindy Baldauf at a volunteer fire department banquet. The Baldaufs were first on the scene following his accident.

A long journey back

Moore has since endured seven surgeries related to the wreck. After two of his surgeries—one in Tyler and the other in Dallas in July 2022—his rehab seemed smooth until he began experiencing severe pain in his right ankle.

Doctors discovered his right talus, the small bone in his ankle supporting the entire joint, had died due to lack of blood flow. In December 2023, Moore underwent a complete ankle and talus replacement procedure and spent the next three months getting around with the help of a knee scooter. He began rehab on the ankle this past March and is seeing encouraging improvement.

 “I never thought I would walk like this again,” he said.

It’s been one of many blessings the Moores have experienced.

A few months before the wreck, Moore had moved from a longtime pastorate at Lakeside Baptist Church in Canton to a part-time position at The Bridge Fellowship in nearby Martin’s Mill. The Bridge continued to pay his salary even though he was out of commission for several months, Moore said. 

By 2022, Moore was serving in the interim position at Main Street in Grand Saline. From there, Cross City Church in Euless invited him to join its staff as minister to senior adults. When he learned a seventh surgery loomed, Moore offered to withdraw his name from consideration for the position. His request was denied. 

“We hired you,” he was told. “You’re family.”

The move from East Texas to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex was natural for Mark, a self-proclaimed “city boy” who nonetheless joyfully pastored Lakeside for 31 years. The Moores found a home in Arlington, only 10 minutes from Cross City and just 18 miles from their son and his family in Irving. They don’t have to travel on any major highways to access church or family. Driving on busy thoroughfares, Moore admits, still leaves him a little jumpy.

Another blessing? The November after the wreck, the Moores attended the volunteer fire department banquet in Noonday to express their thanks. The Baldaufs were also invited, and Moore was able to publicly convey his gratitude. The two couples remain in contact today.

Mark and Elaine also keep up with Jennifer Lanfrey, the woman in one of the other vehicles involved in the wreck.

“These are lifelong friendships,” Moore said, noting that he and Jennifer had prayed for each other over the course of their recoveries.

Moore, who thought he might never walk normally and without pain again, enjoys a Rangers baseball game with his son and family. SUBMITTED PHOTO

“I tell people I’ve had seven surgeries. In the Bible, seven means complete. I am taking God at His word that I am through with surgeries.”

A newfound perspective

Moore said the accident has changed him for the better in many ways—especially in how he ministers to people.

“Today, when I make hospital visits, I remember what it’s like to be in the bed,” Moore said. 

The wreck has improved his bedside manner, he explained. “I’ve always been a tenderhearted guy. It didn’t take much for me to feel mercy. But that wreck has helped me every time I am with people. Everybody has been through something.”

He still expresses amazement that now, with his artificial ankle constructed of cobalt on a 3D printer, he is able to walk without pain.

“I am so grateful,” he said. 

His job duties at Cross City vary widely, including a bit of preaching to ministering to senior adults to taking his turn manning the church playscape on days it is open as an afternoon outreach to the public.

“I tell people I’ve had seven surgeries. In the Bible, seven means complete,” Moore said with a chuckle. “I am taking God at His word that I am through with surgeries.”

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