Posted by Steve Lettau on Oct 31, 2019

Editor's Note: Jeff Wenzler has spoken to our club on several occasions.

By Madison Goldbeck - News Graphic

MEQUON — Just two weeks ago, Jeff Wenzler of Mequon was on a mission trip in Kingston, Jamaica, when he was stabbed in the kidney with a knife during a robbery. But Wednesday, he was sitting in a Mequon dog park relishing forgiveness, his faith in humanity unshaken.

“If people can survive in a landfill area with smiles on their face, joy in their heart with faith and hard work, then I can handle a scar,” Wenzler said.

Wenzler runs the local nonprofit Pivotal Directions, which focuses on humanitarian projects, specifically in Kingston. Wenzler has connected hundreds of volunteers over the years to a landfill area in Riverton to perform construction of homes, educational projects and mentoring, among other things.

On Oct. 7, Wenzler was nearly killed trying to stop one of his volunteers from being robbed. The woman was carrying a clutch that contained her passport, money and phone. Two young Jamaican men approached them.

“I heard the struggle in her voice, I jumped in – and I think anyone would,” Wenzler said. “I didn’t know they had knives. I had tunnel vision, but I was focused on retrieving her purse.”

Wenzler chased the men as they ran away with the purse. After cornering one of the men, the other man stabbed him twice, once in the kidney. Wenzler said he wasn’t even aware he was stabbed due to adrenaline. He continued to chase the men, until he felt his side and found his hands covered in blood. He collapsed and the men got away.

A good Samaritan rushed to Wenzler’s side and ripped off his own shirt and belt to help stop the bleeding. Another Samaritan pulled up in his car and rushed Wenzler to the hospital.

“99 percent of humans are very good people and 1 percent make a very bad decision in life,” Wenzler said. “That is why I do what I do, so people don’t find themselves in the same circumstances where they think they have to steal a purse for survival purposes.”

Wenzler surprisingly did not need emergency surgery and against the doctor’s wishes, he was stitched up and sent home to the United States to a second hospital.

“Now, here I am at a dog park, playing with my wonderful dog that I just rescued from a garbage dump in Kingston. His name is Kingston. I wanted to get home to my family and him,” said Wenzler.

While Wenzler enjoys his autumn day in Mequon, he recalls an emotional memory from the hospital that made him even more grateful for how things worked out.

While in the hospital, Wenzler shared a room with another stab victim who was in a worse condition. The man could not afford the treatments and wanted to drive across town to a different hospital, but the doctor was arguing with him to stay. Wenzler, hooked into IVs and all, joined the conversation and offered to help the man.

“I got angry and emotional at the same time and sad about the situation. We don’t even understand where we come from,” said Wenzler. “The amazing network and health care we have. The ability to go to the hospital in an emergency and we can take care of ourselves. I have a credit card, people I can call. He had a newborn baby and a wife, and the doctor didn’t want him to leave. People in Kingston have a hard time paying for that type of thing. It could have been way worse for me.”

Wenzler said he has received an overwhelming amount of support from people he has never met in Jamaica. Despite all he has endured the last two weeks, he plans to return to Kingston next month.

“We are just really cloaked with a lot of joy and hospitality because we are helping in those areas. There is always an opportunist that is waiting for you to let your guard down. It’s about how we approach it.”

Though the two men were not found or arrested, Wenzler believes justice happens in different ways in this world.

“It’s not up to me to judge and say what I want to happen. Those boys represent all the kids I have worked with. I would really hope to love and have a conversation with them. I wouldn’t yell at them or want to hurt them. I really wish I could learn from them. I believe everything happens for a reason and I can’t wait to get back down there.”