Wayland Rec Team credits God's intervention with safety during wreck

BRADY - The van's roof was transformed from its traditional flat surface to a pointed top; the remainder of the body is battered and bruised.

But the vehicle's five inhabitants - members of one of Wayland Baptist University's two summer Rec Teams - have only a few bruises and scrapes to show for the harrowing rollover that occurred Friday (7-13) morning just 10 miles from Brady. They have only one explanation.

"I cried all day because I felt responsible, but it was really a reminder that each day is precious to us and sometimes we take advantage of that," said Micah Harrison, a 2000 graduate who had returned for the summer to lead the team. "When Staci prayed, she said God was completely in control of the situation and no matter what we do he has control. There's no other way to explain it. The EMTs said they expected three of us to be dead. I know God was completely in control of that."

Harrison said at the time of the rollover, she and Wayland junior Staci Copeland of Perryton, who was in the passenger's seat, had been talking while the other three team members - Jeremy Douglas of Littlefield, Pam McClement of Lubbock and James Garrett of Arlington - were sleeping. The group was en route to San Antonio for the Youth Evangelism Conference.

"I rolled down my window to throw out an apple core and I heard Staci say, 'Micah.' When I looked up, one wheel was on the side of the road, so I tried to correct it and went onto the other side of the road and then into a ravine. We kind of leaned for a minute and then rolled once," Harrison said.

The van came to a stop on the passenger side, and Copeland said she had to help Harrison unbuckle her seatbelt in order for the two to get out. They then quickly called out to the three other passengers to make sure they were not hurt.

Before the pair could get completely out of the van by crawling through the driver's window, Ronnie Moore, a member of First Baptist Church of Brady who saw the wreck from his roadside home, was there to help the students. He also called the police and ambulance, sure there would be serious injuries.

After everyone was on their feet, Harrison said Copeland suggested the group pray. It was then they first all acknowledged that what they had lived through was nothing short of miraculous.

"It was a scary deal but I know that God's hand was on us and he was protecting us," Copeland said. "It was scary while it was happening, but I wasn't scared for anyone's life. I just had a peace about it."

The team contacted Shawn Thomas, director of admissions at Wayland, who then headed for Brady with Danny Murphree, director of property management, with another van for the group. Dr. Bill Hardage, vice chancellor, and Dr. Russ Gibbs, vice president for institutional advancement, flew down to check on the group and pick up Thomas and Murphree.

"It was comforting for me to know that we have brothers and sisters in Christ reaching out in times of crisis," said Thomas. "For that moment in their lives, those folks in Brady were their family. They reached out to them and comforted them and ministered to them."

Meanwhile, Moore had called the church and youth minister Mike Telford and his wife Sandra came to pick up the students. Other church members, Mike Slone and Dave West, helped the group gather their things out of the wrecked van. The Telfords took the group to their home to rest and Moore's wife Lorna brought them pizza for lunch.

"The Lord was definitely watching over them," said Sandra Telford. "One of my good friends was one of the EMTs and she said, 'I knew there was a fatality when we drove up.' God's hand was all over them."

Former Plainview banker Kim King, who now lives in Brady, looked over the group's trailer and took it to a local shop for new tires. While unloading the trailer, team members had another moment of reflection.

"Later that day as we were unloading, I noticed a refrigerator magnet had fallen off and stuck on the top of the trailer. It said, 'Good morning, this is God. I'll be taking care of all your problems today.' We all kind of paused then," said Douglas. "As we were going down, I was telling myself, 'You're not going to die; you have work to do.' God just wrapped his arms around us and held us in."

The group spent the weekend in Austin to rest before heading to Highland Lakes Encampment in Spicewood for their next camp.