The snow was falling softly in great big flakes as I drove my four year old son to nursery school, it was January of 1975. My two year old was in a car seat.
The corner that I was approaching was familiar to me. It was normally a busy intersection at that time of the morning, but this day there were very few vehicles there. As it turned out, that was a very good thing.
On my right and just ahead of me was a small apartment building. To the left was a strip mall and there was a gas station on the corner there.
Suddenly, I heard what I knew was an airplane motor. It was close. I couldn’t see it, but I knew it was in trouble and that it was going to crash.
“I am going to pull into the parking lot.” I said.
I stopped the car, got out and ran toward the airplane that was now on the ground.
“Stay in the car”, I said to my boys.
As I approached the plane I could see a man in the passenger seat. Fear was on him, he was pleading, “My arm is stuck, get it loose!” I reached through the broken window and lifted his arm. It came loose easily.
At that point I heard something. Looking over I saw what appeared to be a salmon colored pillow, I didn’t realize it was the pilot until I came around to the left side of the plane. His head was under the dashboard. I placed my left hand under it and brought his head out.
I was holding his head in my hand when I heard: “Leave the area!”
At that point, I noticed that there were many police and rescue people on the scene. The area had been cordoned off with yellow and black plastic tape. I had been totally unaware of anything around me up to that time. I did not even notice that the snow around the plane was covered with fuel and could have ignited at anytime.
As I moved around the front of the plane to leave, a policeman was helping a woman out of the back of the plane. He seemed bewildered. He said, “I don’t know where to take her.” I said, “My car is just over there if you want to put her in there.”
We both heard the order, “Take her into the gas station.” He took one of her arms and I took the other and we walked her into the station. Bringing her to the back wall of the entrance, she slid down to the floor where she sat in disbelief of what had just happened.
I had the thought that I should sit in front of her to shield her from the drafts caused by the door opening and closing all the time. People were coming and going constantly.
I don’t know how long I sat there before a woman came over to the woman on the floor and began to ask questions. Not knowing who this woman was, or why she was asking her so many questions, I felt irritated with her. My thought was, “She just came out of a crash, leave her alone.” Nevertheless, it was part of God’s overall plan, as you will see when my story is over.
I learned that the woman involved in the crash was Mrs. McCullough. She, her husband and their daughter were with their pilot on their way to Canada for business when the plane began to have trouble. The pilot Don, had followed the river, trying to find the airport when the crash occurred.
Many people in the area heard the plane and it was later revealed that much prayer had gone up to God for the people in that plane. God heard!
The “nosy” lady turned to me and played her twenty questions game. I didn’t see what the point of this was, but I answered, giving her my name and telephone number. My four year old came into the station, questioning, I told him, “Get back into the car.”
Shortly after that, the McCullough’s daughter was brought into the station and laid along the wall by her mother. She had a broken right arm, the bone stuck out of the flesh about three inches. As one can imagine, she was crying in pain.
The week before this crash occurred, I had read a book about several different kind of prayers. In that book there was a prayer the author called, a “channel” prayer. When you did not know what to pray, you simply prayed, “Dear Lord, let me be a channel for your will to be done.” I reached my hand out to touch the girl and silently prayed that prayer. The girl instantly stopped crying.
A tall man in a big, black overcoat came into the station. He asked Mrs. McCullough and the girl some questions and then ordered paramedics to take the girl to the hospital. At that point, I came to myself. There is no other way to describe it. I became aware of everything, not the least of which was my two boys. I got up and went to my car.
I sat there trembling, thinking, “What am I to do now?” I couldn’t take my son to school. I wanted to be with someone, but who, as I was not an outgoing person who had friends to go to. I needed prayer. I recalled that the church ladies were meeting to do a project, I would go there. Sadly, all that happened there was a cup of tea and sympathy and then they went back to their project. I went home.
During the night, about two in the morning, something I had not experienced up to that point happened, I was hit with travail. Falling upon my knees, I began to weep, moan and groan for someone. I pleaded, “Please God, let him live.”
The next morning, about nine, my phone rang. It was the “nosy” lady. She began to regale me with her exploits of the morning. She had been to the hospital to see the McCulloughs and told me that Mrs. McCullough wanted to see me. I politely refused. She would not take no for an answer, so I promised I would go see her.
In that time period, you did not go to visit someone in the hospital without taking flowers or a gift, it just was not done. My problem was that I had only $1.98 and what could you buy with that? There were no credit cards in our lives at that point. So, off to the hospital I went.
When I arrived in the gift shop of the hospital, I looked for some flowers, but they were much more money than I had. God knew my heart, for way in the back was a small rose bowl with a single carnation floating in water for the exact amount of money that I had. He is so good!
I walked into Mrs. McCullough’s room and gave her the flower. She was the chatty type of a person, outgoing and friendly. She talked about the people that had come to see her and then said, “Who are you?” I was shocked by the question as I assumed she would know me. After all, I had sat in front of her for what seemed like an hour at the gas station.
“I am Joy.”, I said. She replied, “No, you are not!” “Joy has long blonde hair that turns up at the ends and the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen, and you are not her.”
I tried to explain that I was there and that perhaps she didn’t recognize me because I had on a different jacket and mittens, since the others had blood on them. She would not accept that. She knew what she saw. I told her that perhaps she saw angel, but I was indeed there. She would not be convinced.
Over the next few weeks, I visited them. Each time I would hear more of what God had done for them and in them. He did much healing in them and the pilot as well. Their daughter was sent home within the week of the accident, as she had only the broken arm and some bruises. As I recall the prognosis for their recovery was in terms of a year or years, but God shortened the time at least by half.
A few years ago now, I received a phone call from the pilot, Don. He caught me up to date on his life. He ended up marrying his nurse and they live in Iowa. He became a Christian. It was he that I travailed for that night. Thank God he is living for the Lord. He told me that the McCullough’s never did believe that I was there.
Sadly, as far as I know today, the McCullough’s did not remain with the Lord. They were back-slidden Christians at the time of the accident. After the accident, they went back to the place they lived and were on several TV. and radio programs, sharing their testimony. I later heard that they had walked away again.
Bethany Publishing was going to do a book about this story, but because of the lifestyle of the McCullough’s, they never did.
I trust that this incident in my life has caused you to see how much God loves His own, the back-slider and the lost.
God bless you today, friends!