SPRINGFIELD – Cold rain and dark skies loomed over the highway shortly before 7 p.m. on Nov. 15, 2012. James Wilson was driving home from a hunting trip with his son when, suddenly, a drunk driver hit him head on.
Wilson, a member of Ridgecrest Baptist Church here, remembers little else – only “glimpses,” snapshots of the traumatic evening: He remembers his son beating on his car door, calling to him, “Dad, do you recognize my voice?” He remembers his son leaning over him, placing his hands over his ears. Helicopter blades whirled above him. “Dad, you’re going to fly,” he said. Only after events had passed did Wilson ask his son why it took them so long to land a helicopter and take him into the hospital. His son replied, “They don’t fly dead people.”
Though he was certain he would die, Wilson survived that evening. But his injuries were severe.
“My leg hurt really bad. My foot hurt,” Wilson recalled. “But I didn’t realize that I crushed my right leg, and it was wrapped around the brake pedal. It was actually up into the dashboard. My toe was touching my kneecap. Then, both my arms were broke, and my left leg was trapped in the car. So I was actually just crushed by the engine.”
For the next eight months, Wilson recovered from his injuries – and struggled to cope with the reality that his right leg was gone. But in the years since that time, God has used Wilson to take the love and hope of the gospel to people in Missouri and across the globe. And none of it would have happened had Wilson been spared from his injuries or had he kept his leg.
Earlier this year, Wilson shared about God’s grace in his life in a testimony posted on the Ridgecrest Baptist Church Facebook page:
“Six years ago I was crushed in a car wreck,” he wrote. “I was hit by a drunk driver, was revived out of a medically induced coma a week later. I woke up to a very different body than I had only one week before. I eventually lost my right leg below the knee.
“Since then I have spoken in prisons, drug courts, drug treatment centers, or anywhere possible to whomever possible to spread the message about drunk driving. Four years ago I started going to Nicaragua on mission trips with my church in Springfield, Mo. We work to build houses and minister to people in the villages there. I have had the opportunity to speak in a jail and halfway house while in Nicaragua.”
During his mission trips, a noticeable prosthetic leg – covered with artwork and wording that testifies to the gospel – has given him the opportunity to share Christ’s love and engage with both adults and children. Wilson told The Pathway he is astounded by God’s love for him and God’s decision to use him in this way.
“I’m humbled,” he said, “because God has a plan. And when God lets you be a little part of his plan, it is very humbling.”
Last year, Wilson had stopped speaking in prisons and at other venues as much as he used to, and he wondered whether God was telling him to do something else. Then, a random encounter reminded him of all God had done and all God is continuing to do.
“I was in Walmart, and I had shorts on,” Wilson recalled. “This lady walked by, and she turned around in front of me and said, ‘Hey you!’”
Wilson had no idea who this woman was, but she remembered him. She told him that she had heard him speak at a drug treatment program she had been a part of once. She then added, “You keep doing what you’re doing, because what you said changed my life. Since that day, I have not had a drink, and I have never thought about drinking and driving again. You let God use you, and He did a great thing.”
“It was all God,” Wilson replied. “How did you recognize me?”
Smiling, she answered, “Your leg.”