May 25th, 2011
12:05 PM ET

From tornado to hospital, prayer sustains Missouri family

By Eric Marrapodi and Brian Todd, CNN

Joplin, Missouri (CNN) - It’s quiet here. The only sound in the hospital room is the steady hum of a ventilator pushing air into Lage Grigsby’s lungs. It’s a stark contrast to the haunting noise of Sunday's Joplin tornado, which put him here.

Lage’s father, James Grigsby, sits by his 14-year-old son’s bedside anxiously keeping vigil, praying and hoping his boy will pull through OK. Lage is in a medically induced coma.

He has an open skull fracture and a broken vertebra in his neck. His doctors suspect he may have a brain injury and be partially paralyzed but they don’t yet know for sure. There’s a chance he won’t be able to kick a soccer ball again - or even be able to remember a time when he did.

Lage his family live one town over from Joplin, in Neosho, Missouri. On Sunday, Lage was with his grandparents and cousin, Mason, at the Home Depot in Joplin. His grandfather parked his red dual-wheeled pickup truck at the front entrance and quickly ran in to deal with a refund on some wires he picked up earlier.

“My daughter told me they spotted one on the ground,” said Sharon Lillard, Lage’s grandmother, recalling how word of the tornado quickly spread via cell phone. She was still in the truck with Lage and Mason.

“We was getting ready to get out and go into the store but the wind was blowing so hard we couldn’t even get out of the vehicle,” she said.

They watched as orange shopping carts took flight.

“I turned around and pushed my grandkids down to the floorboard,” she said. “I kept telling them, ‘We need to pray. God’s going to take care of us.’ ”

The windows in the truck shattered, sending glass flying into Lillard’s back. She bit her tongue; she didn’t want to scare her grandchildren.

“Then all of a sudden we felt the truck go in the air.”

“All I kept saying was ‘God protect us,’” Lillard said. “Because that’s all we had was God to protect us. We didn’t know what was going to happen.”

The one-ton truck was picked up like a ball and thrown into the Home Dept’s outdoor garden section, a football field and a half away from where they had parked. It landed by the lawnmowers.

“All I could do is pray someone would find us quick because I couldn’t do any screaming or anything because my head was pushed into the seat.”

Besides the glass in her back, Lillard had a broken arm. Mason was injured, too. A piece of rebar had gone through her shoulder and out her back.

Lage had been thrown from the truck and landed outside, nearby.

The Home Depot was completely destroyed, an unrecognizable mass of tangled rebar and concrete. A number of bodies have since been pulled from the store's wreckage.

Rescuers quickly found Lage, his grandmother and his cousin. They cut Mason out of the truck and rushed Lage to nearby Freeman Health System, the Joplin hospital spared by the half-mile wide tornado (the city’s other hospital, St. John's Regional Medical Center, was badly damaged.)

“When he presented he had a dilated pupil, which is a serious neuralgic problem, indicating that the person is about to neurologically die," said Lage’s nuerosurgeon, Dr. Arthur Daus.

The news provoked Lage’s dad to pray hard: “Don’t take my son, Lord,” James Grigsby prayed, “please don’t take my son.”

Dr. Daus preformed six hours of surgery to save Lage’s life, removing parts of dead brain tissue and the skull to allow the brain to swell.

There’s a chance Lage will regain his cognitive function, Daus said, but it will require a near miracle.

Hospital staff quietly come in and out of Lage’s room at the intensive care unit, where the boy lies still except for the occasional twitch of his leg or squeeze of his dad’s hand. A bandage covers his head.

They had to shave his long brown hair, styled like Justin Bieber - though his dad said Lage would hate it if you described it that way.

"It really disheartens me, because I'm used to seeing him happy and so vibrant,” Grigsby said. “He's a very energetic boy,” Grigsby said, holding his son’s hand.

"This isn't the boy who walks up behind me and goes 'Dad, can I get on the computer? Dad, can I play the X-box? Dad, can I go and ride my bike?"

Through the pain and anxiety, Grigsby said his faith remains firm. The family regularly attends the Church of Christ in Neosho.

“We’re a very Christian-bound family,” Grigsby said. Lage, who has four siblings, is active in the Royal Rangers, a Christian version of the Boy Scouts.

“The hard part about this is I know God’s hand has been in this and works through this,” Grigsby said. “He is here and is at least with us at this point.”

Grigsby says he praying for his neighbors, too.

"I know there's probably people out there who are going to be disheartened by this—I got to keep my son and they may not have,” he said. “I’m one of the lucky ones.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Missouri

soundoff (631 Responses)
  1. Amy

    So what happened to the grandfather?

    May 25, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
  2. BKing

    People die and suffering is unfortunately a part of our earthly life. God never told us that we would not go through things. Everyone does, but having a relationship with God ensures that he will help you through it and assures an eternity free of all pain and suffering once we do leave this earth. And how can her prayer be considered selfish? She wanted her family to survive. Who wouldn't? Praying for the best in your situation at a particular moment doesn't mean you're hoping for the worst in someone else's.

    May 25, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
  3. whackjob

    normally i'd blame the jews, but i doubt there are any in joplin, so who do i blame? :0

    May 25, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • joe


      June 26, 2011 at 8:23 am |
  4. Rob

    I'm not taking anything away from the seriousness of the situation in the midwest, but I really really don't understand how people can say that they were spared because god was watching over them. By saying that, you are ALSO saying that god was not watching over the people that died. Isn't that a little (lot) hypocritical? Then, by saying that your prayers are with the families of the deceased, isn't the contradictory, because god wasn't watching over the deceased anyway, so why pray?

    May 25, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  5. Keith

    Sure would be nice if that moron we call a president would stop toasting the queen during their national anthem but more importantly stop trying to divide up Israel's covenant land.

    May 25, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  6. Veritas

    Clearly CNN is intentionally flashing these kind of headlines like '...praying..." only to ignite Theist-Atheist tensions and get traffic. "Praying" of course has no other effect than maybe personal therapy, in my strongly held conviction, and the discussion is completely fruitless as no side understands the other's point of view.

    May 25, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • John Richardson

      If the object of debate was to convince your debating foe, it would indeed be a pointless exercise. The point is to convince third parties.

      May 25, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
  7. StevenC


    The boy is lily white, why would you think no one cares about the others? People are people, and right now people are suffering, stop the HATE, Please

    May 25, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  8. RightturnClyde

    Everyone I know is praying for the people of Joplin and the Midwest (and Mobile) .. quite a disaster. Lots of heartbreak and anguish. Praying to Lord Jesus to mitigate their losses and comfort them in their plight. My prayer partners all praying and some of us are singing songs of praise as well. Tonight we'll sing and pray here (about 10 of us... and read too. Never hurts. Dr. Vernon McGee is a good reader and teacher. .

    May 25, 2011 at 7:41 pm |


    May 25, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • heidi

      and you are doing the typical "non white" baby syndrome. get over yourself

      May 25, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
  10. StevenC

    I find it amazing that when people are suffering that the haters are out in force. Why condemn others bielieves, the source of their strengths? The people of Joplin and other cities throughout the midwest including my city of Minneapolis, Minnesota where such desperate situations exist deserve nothing but prayers, if not prayers kind thoughts why do you feel such joy in the pain of others? Please lend a hand, a voice, anything that will bring encouragement, these folks are in desperate situations, family members in pain, missing children, homes devastated.

    Who will the haters put their trust in to help them if they find themselves in the same situation, you may accept Karma, I accept any and all positive thoughts.

    Please pray for these souls in need of protection from the haters and let them strive to rebuild their lives.

    God Bless

    May 25, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  11. Muneef

    My Prayers to all those suffer the natural disasters in America and the world.... whether heavenly or manmade ones....

    After all agree that such natural disaster is not a divine punishment to those effected humans but might think that what is happening is a return result of our countries policies towards other nations?! Say bombing one country returns back to it in a form a natural disasters,to do them as did others?
    Who know's... 

    May 25, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • John Richardson

      So THAT'S why these tornados seem to be clustering in "red" states?

      Nope, if God were just, he'd have made sure that that baseball beaned old W but good the other day. Killing kids in Missouri and Alabama is a downright repulsive proxy. So either god is repulsive or this has nothing to do with divine retribution.

      May 25, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • Muneef

      Well here just found a similar thing;

      New American Standard Bible (©1995)
      "Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure– pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."
      Reference of yours;

      Matthew 7:2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
      Mark 4:24 "Consider carefully what you hear," he continued. "With the measure you use, it will be measured to you–and even more.

      May 25, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Yo, Muneef! It ain't exactly news that religious idiots believe in divine retribution. They wish for it and when things happen to the "other" people (whoever those may be in the eyes of a given sect), they think it's happening. The greatest of all Christian crackpots, Pat Robertson, is always analyzing things this way. In this case, however, he wouldn't say that these people were killed and injured because the US is bombing civilians in far away lands. Rather, it would be divine retribution for allowing gays to marry or something like that. Why god doesn't take actually target gays, let alone specifically those who are or are about to get married, is never made clear. Yeah, it's all an obvious crock. That's the whole point.

      May 25, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
  12. cyberwave

    Well, thanks to the Republicans, they can look forward to bankruptcy as they struggle to pay the medical bills. LOLOLOL they voted Republican, too. Retard south. Karma. Oh also Republicans deny climate change and de-fund the EPA so they also contributed to the formation of the tornado itself. More Karma. I love it.

    May 25, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  13. GSA

    Hope everything gets better for this family and the others affected by this disaster.
    Sad to see all the debate and arguing over religion on an article like this, seems that the hate runs deep on both sides and the sad truth is neither side really seems to care about the situation.

    May 25, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • John Richardson

      I have a friend in Joplin who is thankfully okay who has a lot on her plate that I hope to help her with. Don't presume that nobody cares about the situation just because we choose to debate the way religion tends to exploit these situations to validate itself.

      May 25, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  14. Ken VanKirk

    Altho this is a potential physical loss, it reminds me of our having to trust God for Evan's spiritual coma right now

    May 25, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  15. Keepinthefaith

    First of all (most important to least important order): MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS go out to the Lage family in this tragic time, I have seen and worked with brain injury patients and I have seen miracles and recoveries. Keep your faith and believe.

    Secondly: @ onelessgod, just curious, Fidei Coticula Crux, Shawn, Servant63....why dont you skip over to the article about "Loughner not competant to stand trial" and post your thoughts and opinions there. He was also Atheist and a disgrace to man kind.

    May 25, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Pixie

      Keepin: "He was also Atheist and a disgrace to man kind."

      And your point in saying that is...?

      May 25, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • logicabc

      He was bald, too. And a disgrace to humankind, especially bald people. Hey, wait. Isn't he also a creation of god? Why would god create this bald monster? And why would god let him do what he did? Better pray harder next time, Keepinfaith. Theodicy is an epic fail.

      May 25, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  16. Beam

    I will add my prayers for a healing and full recovery for Lage. My son is 15...we live in Kansas. This could be us.

    No place on earth is safe actually....every state and nation in the world endures some type of natural disasters folks...

    Anyway I am not going to get into who does what, and all the arguing on here..instead I am just going to pray for Lage.

    Dear Lord in Heaven please place your healing hands on this young man. Heal and restore him fully and completely for your glory. Watch over his parents, the doctors and all who care for him. Also Lord watch over and comfort those who have been injured or lost loved ones as we go through these terrible storms this spring. Draw close to them Lord and put your protective arms around them. Uplift them and encourage them. Wipe away every tear Lord....knowing one day you will restore this world to what you intended in the first place...perfect and without tears, or sorrows or death.
    In Jesus' Name I pray

    May 25, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Do you generally pray by posting on the internet?

      May 25, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • Toby

      You are in need of some serious de-programming. How are your views any more or less outrageous than those of the other religions that you do NOT believe in? Don't answer me, answer yourself. Peace.

      May 25, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      As Doc Vestibule said on the previous page :
      "The most ridiculous concept ever perpetrated by Hom.o Sapiens is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of the Universes, wants the sacharrine adoration of his creations, that he can be persuaded by their prayers, and becomes petulant if he does not recieve this flattery. Yet this ridiculous notion, without one real shred of evidence to bolster it, has gone on to found one of the oldest, largest and least productive industries in history."
      – Robert Heinlein

      May 25, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • Jennifer

      I second that prayer!

      May 25, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • wesley

      i knew Lage and if u have seen the video of him that wasnt the boy iknew that wasnt the boy who never let anything dampen his spirit ........ Lage we all hope u recover and rejion us for 9th grade at Neosho high

      May 25, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  17. Frogist

    My heart and best wishes go out to the people of Joplin and the other storm ravished areas of which there are so many recently.
    Personally I don't know what I would have said to the kids in the situation the grandmother was in. Not to mention at the side of my child's bed. I can only imagine the pain and fear they must be dealing with. I suppose sometimes the only appeal you have is to hope for miracles when there seems nothing else.
    Thank goodness for the swiftness of the EMTs, expertise of the surgeon and all those who are caring for them.
    BTW the surgery on Lage seems similar to the one done on Rep Giffords that they credit for saving her life and her brain function.

    May 25, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Well said.
      I hope for a quick recovery for all injured and a quick rebuilding of people's lives and homes.

      May 25, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  18. D.R.F.

    Wow! After a story like that from Joplin & some people choose to focus on an arguing point about god or religion! This is what is wrong with our country today! The first post I read was from an individual who just wanted to share how they don't believe ib god, I could care less about your opinion on god or religion. I myself am not religious, but my only thoughts as a father of three kids was heartfelt sympathy for the parents of Lage, ya'll know, the young kid this article was about?

    Please learn to keep rediculous opinions to your own depressed phsyche & if your going to post something after an article of this nature, have some coothe.

    Derek Forrest

    May 25, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  19. onelessgod

    I guess the dead people didn't pray hard enough or to the correct god. The only reason that boy is still alive and has a chance is because of the doctors using real science instead of faith.

    May 25, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      Everyone dies sooner or later... it is a condition of birth. You will also. If you live long enough you will go blind and you will have a number diseases that render you pretty much helpless and dependent upon others. You seem to be very young (because you seem lack experiences). I would guess you are well privileged in a comfortable home (well fed) and obviously you have spare time and a computer and other signs of affluence. 99% of the 7 billion people on earth do not have your affluence. Some (right ow) are hungry (chronically hungry .. simply because of where they exist). Some have never known peace (ever). Some have never had any home. Some are in pain .. constant pain (no respite). So when I see comments like yours I can only wonder how shallow you might be and UNABLE to live (to experience life) because of your privilege. But maybe you can grow a little (while you are present)

      May 25, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • Jil

      RightturnClyde –

      Agreed its not about belief or non-belief, its about humanity. I thought the world was progressing beyond discrimination. These people are proving Darwin was wrong, we are regressing as a species.

      May 25, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  20. Just Curious

    Is all of this praying being done to the same God that sent the destruction and heartache in the first place...or a different one?

    May 25, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • John Richardson

      You know, Christians really underutilize the whole trilogy thing. We know from the Old Testament that god the father is prone to acting like an abusive drunk. So why not pray to Jesus to ask the old man to knock it the f*** off already?

      I wouldn't bother praying to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is sort of the Shemp of the trinity. Clearly a cut below the other two.

      May 25, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Ummm, 'trilogy' -> trinity!!!!

      May 25, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
    • KingdomWork

      @ John Richardson

      You know, Christians really underutilize the whole trilogy thing. We know from the Old Testament that god the father is prone to acting like an abusive drunk. So why not pray to Jesus to ask the old man to knock it the f*** off already?

      I wouldn't bother praying to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is sort of the Shemp of the trinity. Clearly a cut below the other two.


      'Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin' (Mark 3:28-29)

      Be careful, John...

      May 25, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @KingdomWork Well, if I was wearing boots and I was shaking, I'd now be shaking in my boots. As such, nah, not worried about what Holy Shemp thinks about me!

      May 25, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • KingdomWork

      @ John
      I shake for you, John. I'm fearful for you.
      Be careful, the Holy Shemp might show Himself to you... then you would be forced to believe that He does exist. I double dog dare you to ask Him for His Spirit... Let's see what happens

      May 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Jil

      I am sorry that you feel God has failed you. But I believe it is the biggest misconception that God is accountable to us. When you were a kid did your parents ever punish you? According to your logic, if they did, they didn't love you.

      May 25, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Jill, My parents disciplined me at times. But they never pushed the side of a building on top of me. If they had, yeah, I'd doubt that they loved me much. Glad to say I don't have such doubts given the civilized manner in which they did behave! Your vengeful maniac god could have learned something about self-restraint even in anger from them.

      May 25, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
    • Jil

      John Richardson – you claim there is only science and no God.

      God made science, that is why it has laws and is not chaotic and random as something without external guidance would have.

      What purpose then would God have to make science if he was to not allow it to function?

      When humans decided to do what they wanted instead of walking with God, he allowed it, he could of just said no and made us comply.And if he did we would not have a choice now would we? There wouldn't be a choice (B). For if there is no alternative how can one exercise free will?

      May 25, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Jill, He allows it, but he punishes it with death and eternal torment. You are being incoherent. Not an uncommon problem amongst jolly old Jehovah's droogs, but no less problematic just because of its dreary familiarity.

      May 26, 2011 at 10:02 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.