Bears typically don't attack people... at least, that's what Casadi Schroeder thought. When a black bear stalked her campsite, she tried to scare him away. But this bear didn't run off into the woods. He charged right towards Casadi.
It happened in the summer of 2018 when her family went to a Bible camp in northern Canada to share about their upcoming move to the mission field of Thailand. They had heard there was a bear nearby.
"They let people know that he was around, but they weren't particularly afraid of it or uh everybody wasn't hiding out. And they just kind of went about their business, knowing that there was a bear there," says Casadi.
"Our kids were super excited about the weekend, to get to go camping, and get to spend the weekend on the lake. We had three sessions that we were invited to share. We were the guest speakers for the weekend," she says.
When they arrived on Friday, their kids quickly discovered the uninvited guest right outside their cabin.
"I think it was my older son who was like, 'Mom, Mom, there's a bear out here.' And so we ran out there and, yeah, there was a bear, and it was kind of going in and out of – from like under our cabin."
They took the kids safely into the cabin and eventually the bear wandered back into the wilderness. Casadi remembers, "They were alarmed that he wasn't scared off easily. They really had to chase him down and throw rocks at him, be very aggressive towards him."
The next night, the camp pastor felt an urgency to pray for Casadi and her family. "'I sense that we need to pray for you. And you're going into enemy territory, and we need to pray for protection for you.' In that moment we just received prayer, and everybody got into small groups and just prayed for our safety."
They would need that protection sooner than they expected. The next morning Casadi's son woke to the bear trying to get into the cabin. "And he's like, 'Mom, the bear is outside.' And so I opened up the curtain, and, sure enough, the bear was – had been pushing on the front door. Then he went to the other side of the cabin and crawled up the side of the cabin. And proceeded to swipe away the screen," she says.
Fearing for the safety of tent campers, Casadi went out to warn others the bear was back on camp property. She found him trying to enter the mess hall window. She remembers, "He just right away backed up from the window and started slowly sauntering towards me. I slowly back away, I start making noise. I never thought that he would ever attack me. I just – bears just typically don't attack people. They're scared of people."
But this bear wasn't afraid. He charged Casadi suddenly and attacked. Casadi says, "I just remember all of a sudden he was in front of me. I remember he had knocked me down and he was just tearing into my legs. And then just biting in and then just ripping. And then biting in and just ripping. He was just way stronger than I ever thought. And the way he was tearing into my legs, I just thought if he went for my neck, it – this could be it."
Desperate for help and knowing she might die, Casadi prayed, "It was a moment of surprising clarity. And I think it wasn't till that point in my life where I actually felt like, I am ready. And I really didn't have a lot of thoughts about my family, I just thought, okay, like just, God'll take care of them, and I'm going home. And I'm ready."
At that moment, her husband Brad ran to the scene of the attack and fought the bear until it released Casadi. Brad says, "I just started engaging the bear and kicking and hitting. I have one stark memory of connecting with the bear with my fist and just thinking this thing is really solid. Eventually, she was able to get free and I yelled at her to run and so she took off running to the closest cabin which wasn't our cabin but another cabin."
Casadi says, "And I just started pounding on the door and saying, 'Let me in, let me in, a bear is eating me.' At that point the bear had caught up to me again and took me down and started tearing into my legs again."
Brad engaged the bear again. As he fought the bear Casadi says she was somehow lifted by her legs into the cabin as if by an angel. She says, "I do honestly feel like God was protecting me. And so I wouldn't be surprised if that was just another miracle that I was just being released by the bear and lifted into the cabin."
Brad made it into the cabin and the bear eventually left. Casadi was taken to a hospital and treated for her wounds. She says, "It was quite painful. Like I was just black and blue, because this bear had – was just so strong. He just tore me to shreds."
Amazingly, Casadi suffered no life-threatening injuries. "First thing the doctor said to me was like, 'This is – this is actually like, I know this feels bad, but this is the best-case scenario.' Because he said, 'If that bear would have got you anywhere from the waist up' – And I honestly, I hardly had a scratch above the waist. He said, "Anywhere from the waist up, you're looking at, you know, possibly fatal injuries'."
"And they just stapled like all the holes together and I walked out of the – the room by myself. Just like a couple hours later. Nobody helped me. I just got up and left."
Her physical wounds healed, but for a time, Casadi says she was wounded emotionally and questioned God's plan for her. "Why, if He's so powerful, why would this happen to me? He gave me a picture of Him holding my upper body up and away from the bear. And for me that was a powerful picture because I really believe he was protecting me from worse injury and possibly something fatal. And I just felt like Him ask me, 'Will you trust me? Will you trust me even though you don't understand it all? Will you trust me even though you're in pain? And will you trust me when you don't have answers?' I felt like, yeah, I – I have no place else to go. You are it. And so, of course, I trust you."
She says the following months brought her overflowing thankfulness for her life, health and the prayers of people who stand with them now, and in their coming mission.
"I actually had a lot of joy, which is surprising. Just so thankful that I could hug my kids and do the simple things, and enjoy people. We just – we had so many people praying for us, and there's no doubt in my mind that it was a miracle that the bear didn't get my upper body. There's no doubt in my mind that it was a miracle that I could walk out of the hospital room a few hours after a bear attack. Like what? God showed up, and He worked miracles. And He is working miracles all around us. And we just, yeah... to remember and to open up our eyes and to have faith."