February 25, 2003
BLUE SPRINGS – The story of Joe Ray Thompson’s survival is miraculous.
But it is also just the beginning. In telling his amazing story, Thompson has been able to share with the world the message of God’s grace.
On Jan. 27, Thompson , 18, was driving home on Highway 40 in Blue Springs, Mo., when his Jeep was struck by another car. The Jeep started rolling and a stump ripped off the top. Thompson was thrown from the vehicle, sailing 30 feet into the air. His body bounced off a utility wire, but he grabbed onto another wire and held on tight. He described the scene during at service at First Baptist Church Blue Springs recently.
"I made it through five rolls with no head injuries, not wearing a seat belt and ‘just happened’ to land on the neutral power line that had no power," Thompson said. "God was in control."
As the teen hung 25 feet above the roadway, bystanders started scurrying for help.
As Thompson dangled from the wire, he spoke calmly to witnesses, even calling his family on his cellular phone.
"I said ‘I’m fine, just get somebody here quick,’" he said in a local news interview the day of the accident.
His father, Joe Thompson, rushed to the scene and told a local paper he thought his son was dead. Thompson spent about 20 minutes with his arms and legs wrapped around the wire. He said the time seemed to go quickly as he prayed.
"When I was up there, my arms were getting tired. I started praying to God, ‘Lord give me strength. I just kept repeating the prayer, ‘Lord give me strength.’"
Firefighters brought Thompson down safely and he was air lifted to a hospital, where he was soon released, a few bruises and a small scratch the only evidence of his brush with death.
"I thank God He saved me, but I also give Him the credit," Thompson said.
The miraculous story was carried by media across the country. Thompson was interviewed by Connie Chung on CNN. Countless TV talk shows, including Montel Williams and Maury Povich, and even more radio stations called for interviews.
"In every case, he just gives the glory to His God," said Paul Bazalgette, pastor of First Baptist Church, Blue Springs. "He is a quiet, reserved kid who has a calm, unapologetic testimony."
Thompson said he knows of people as far away as India who have heard his story and believed in God’s sovereignty. Closer to home, Thompson’s friends in the youth group have been moved by his testimony. Bazalgette said many youth visited Thompson while he was still in the hospital.
"Everyone was so confused that he was unruffled," Bazalgette said. "The way God preserved him is so outrageous."
Thompson, a senior in high school, said while he hung on the utility wires, below him on the seat of his Jeep his Bible lay open to Psalm 22: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me?"
"Sometimes we may not see God in the picture, we think He’s so far away He can’t help us in any way," Thompson said. "But I realized that God wants to help us. He is in control of everything."
These days, Thompson said he can’t go anywhere without seeing power lines and remembering the accident and realizing again, "Wow, God works in wild ways."