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. j rey

    No, it's not funny. Atheists just read more....

    June 24, 2011 at 1:16 am |
  2. j rey

    As an athiest I do not believe your "god" had anything to do with what happened to this child, but if it makes you feel better to believe that who can argue with you. But remember, just because it makes you feel better, doesn't mean it's true.

    June 24, 2011 at 1:14 am |
  3. Come on Now

    It is funny how many athiests come into a blog on Faith?

    June 23, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  4. Marie Kidman


    June 23, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  5. A

    http://prayforalex.com/ ......just like people prayed for Alex I will be praying for Lage. Praying that the angels watch over him and protect him. I will also pray that his family makes it through.

    June 21, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  6. Dante Orlando Brown

    The Lord Jesus answers prayers:


    June 21, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  7. JustJosh

    Wait, I'm confused... If God protected this child, why is he in the hospital? If God's healing him, then what exactly are the doctors and hospital staff doing?

    June 20, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • Mark

      Yes – you are confused, it's obvious to anyone who know's God. Maybe God will get ahold of your heart and teach you something about His greatness, power and might, or maybe He'll just leave you to your stiffnecked unbelief, which will ultimatelly lead you to hell.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • Christ is God

      Sometimes we dont understand why God allows these things to happen but he knows we cant question it.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
    • Veritas

      Because GeeBus loves the little children.
      The same reason god doesn't heal amputees!

      June 22, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Come on Now

      You will never make me believe that God is the cause of the problems here on earth. He does not let a little child be born just to strike it with cancer so he can have that child back in heaven.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Artist

      They should pray that they dont p! ss off god again. He showed those little children who the boss is.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  8. Veeah Southard

    God bless Lage, Amen.

    June 20, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Dani

      Praying for this precious boy and his family.

      June 20, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
  9. Leigh

    Prayers for the family, prayers and praise for the doctors and medical/support staff.

    June 17, 2011 at 10:19 am |
  10. Scott715

    Why didn't "God" protect them from the tornado to begin with? Or just prevent there from being a tornado. Instead of thanking their imaginary friend for saving them, maybe they should be any at him for hurting them with something he could have prevented in the first place if he is what they believe? People are so gullible.

    June 14, 2011 at 12:31 am |
    • Todd

      Why such cruel words.?...allow people to find comfort in what they find comfort in........

      June 15, 2011 at 6:38 am |
    • nate

      with out pain, how could you know happiness? It is hard to put believe that a God that could allow pain in our lives, truly loves us. But that is the truth.

      June 15, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • OneAtheistUnderGod

      wow!! someone who actually knows what there talking about on this website. Lets see they wont blame there "god" aka imaginary for

      sending a crazy tornado there way and throwing there pickup 450 yds into a effin building and almost killng there son but they will

      thank "God" because he is in a coma and might be somewhat brain dead the rest of his life. Thats being selfish if U ask me. My

      thoughts are with the boy that he can make a recovery and move on from this but in the same breath I hope he doesnt end up being

      as dumb as his parents by weighing there sons life in the balance of a fairy tale.

      June 16, 2011 at 2:24 am |
    • junichi1986

      Let people find refuge in what they feel is best. I mean seriously, bashing the fact that they believe in "GOD" is pretty retarded if you ask me.lol i mean seriously. you dontk now till you die what happens next, so let them believe in GOD to get them through, and you go ahead an dont believe in him. But talking down about there belief is not a solution, its a problem. The problem with 99 percent of our country , everybody wants to pick on everyone elses belief system, no one creating a solution. I understand it is a free country , but IGNORANCE shines all through our culture, and religion seems to be a huge part of it. You obviously havent studied the GOD they seem to CLING to , so before you OPEN your mouth, maybe take time to research and see where they are coming from. sheesh.lol ok im done

      June 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • lmsic

      To those of you who ask "why did God not save him from being in the tornado?" Because God promises to love us and never leave us, not that our road would be easy. Jesus had to carry his cross too, all the while during his suffering the Romans spat in his face shouting "If you are the masiah then SAVE YOURSELF, COME DOWN FROM YOUR CROSS KING OF THE JEWS." Sometimes things have to happen for us to move forward for us to grow. No, they are not always the best, but they happen. So as our father said before I willl also say again. " Forgive them father for they know not what they do"

      June 21, 2011 at 2:40 am |
  11. Alex

    God Bless this child. I hope he pulls through with 100% recovery. My prayers go to his family. BE STRONG.

    June 13, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  12. Kris Lukings

    Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.

    June 12, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • patti

      so true

      June 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  13. YANKO


    June 9, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  14. shhnicolas

    I feel like everyone is allowed to have opinions on this subject, but when you invovle God into the issue, it canges the whole aspect. God does what he feels is in the persons path, whether it be bad or good. In tragety you understand how much you need God and how much God does care.

    June 9, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • LinCA

      Your god either:
      – Intentionally inflicted this tragedy on these people. That would make him evil.
      – Could stop it but didn't. That would make him indifferent.
      – Wanted to stop it but couldn't. That would make him incompetent.
      – Couldn't do anything because he doesn't exist.

      Take your pick.

      June 10, 2011 at 12:57 am |
    • chris

      wow linca what a brilliant deduction. Im sure there could be no other possibilities than the ones you have come up with.

      June 11, 2011 at 3:15 am |
    • LinCA


      Do let me know which possibilities I've missed. Please be specific.

      June 11, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • nate

      The other option is that you are only giving options with a finite knowledge of God. You are saying that these are the options I understand and as such on must be true. Maybe, God allows things like these to happen because it allows us to remember thet things that we have to be thankful for? Maybe God has a calculation that he runs and if more people come out of these disaster with a better understanding of the blessings they have and a closer relationship to him, then he allows them to happen. I beleive that is an option that is outside of any of your choices.

      June 15, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • OneAtheistUnderGod

      @ Chris- uhh yeah I thinkLinca pretty much nailed it

      June 16, 2011 at 2:28 am |
    • LinCA


      You said "Maybe, God allows things like these to happen because it allows us to remember thet things that we have to be thankful for?" and "Maybe God has a calculation that he runs and if more people come out of these disaster with a better understanding of the blessings they have and a closer relationship to him, then he allows them to happen."
      You seem to be implying that your god may not have caused it directly, and that he was able to stop it but didn't, so he could teach a lesson. So how about we drop a nuclear bomb on a major city? Following your reasoning, the survivors will appreciate that. They'll love us more and appreciate the things that they have left. Get fucking real!

      If there is a god, he's evil. Better get used to it.

      June 18, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Dan

      Yes, linca. You need to do some reading on the logical fallacy called "bifurcation."

      June 23, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
    • LinCA


      I am well aware of, and familiar with, the "false dilemma" fallacy. I specifically requested options that I has missed. In reply, nate provided an option that seemed to indicate that his god didn't directly cause it and could, but didn't, stop it. That is option #2. The only difference was that he didn't stop it so he could teach a lesson, instead of just not giving a shit. That's equally bad as option #1, making his god evil.

      If I've missed any other options, specifically ones that make this whole thing reflect good on your god, in any way, please do let me know. I just don't see any.


      July 7, 2011 at 1:37 am |
  15. Ruth

    Look at that poor innocent child and some of you have the audicity to speak bad about this. Shame on you.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • pastafarian

      After reading a fair share of the religious blabbering, "my god is better than your god or god doesn't exist etc." I've concluded that the only reason you have decided to post this is that your belief system came under attack. You used the false premise of people attacking or wishing badly for a boy (which can't be found in the postings) turned it into some pathetic attempt to manufacture a guilt trip for other posters while using the child as your own personal shield. I've seen messed up posts but this takes the cake. Disgusting.

      June 8, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  16. pastafarian

    I think the next time someone needs CPR everyone around that person should just stop what they're doing and start praying, don't call 911, don't request any emergency services, just pray, and see what happens.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • IAM2

      You are so right in your statement.We were in church one night and a man went to leave and died at the front door.We had three paramedics in service that night.Not one of them found a pulse not breathing. they worked on him for about ten minutes. they stopped as we were all praying for him. He said he had an out of the body experience and when he saw this bright light a voice said to him i'm sending you back. I have a work for you to do,now go do it.He came back into his body and 20 minutes later was praying for people.Yes you are right

      June 15, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  17. Reality

    Sorry, prayer doesn't work. Go figure they would in the deep South anyways...

    June 8, 2011 at 8:59 am |
    • Garret

      That's tough to prove

      June 9, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Joe

      It's remarkable easy to prove that prayer doesn't work. There have been numerous double blind studies done where one group of people in a hospital is prayed for, and another group isn't. There wasn't any noticeable increase of health for the group who was prayed for over the group who wasn't.

      Praying to god for protection from a tornado he sent seems a little silly.

      June 9, 2011 at 1:54 pm |

      Who the he** are you to say that? If someone has faith and hope, what's wrong with that? I feel really bad for those of you out there who don't have it. That's why your life is crap.

      June 9, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said:"[...] If someone has faith and hope, what's wrong with that? I feel really bad for those of you out there who don't have it. That's why your life is crap."

      There is nothing wrong with having hope. Faith on the other hand, I'm not so sure about. In either case, don't feel bad for us. We are doing just fine. Our lives are what we make of it. We realize that it's the only one we got. We don't waste it trying to please a figment of our imagination.

      June 10, 2011 at 1:04 am |
    • IAM2

      It's so strange to me when people get in trouble, (especially those who don't believe in God ) the first thing that comes out of their moth is oh God . See the bible says every knee shall bow and every mouth shall confess HE IS LORD. remember this all you unbelievers one day you will see God but for your judgement to handed down yo you. We shall stand before God and give an account for all we do

      June 15, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • Christ is God

      It is simple to all of you. They have faith SIMPLE. If you dont that is your problem. I Cant understand how ignorant you can all be to sit here and talk about peoples beliefs when this poor boy is in a coma. Dont worry about their beliefs MIND YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS. Rather than that if you dont like the Christian comments dont read it!!! BUZZZ OOFFF but trust me one day you will encounter your maker and before he send you down to hell for denying him you will realize how stupid you all looked. TO GOD BE THE GLOR Y

      June 21, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
  18. Not fooled

    Just keep praying. He'll be dancing to Justin Bieber again soon. God Bless Him and may he give you the strength you need.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:37 am |
  19. MatKat19

    My heart and prayers are with this dear family and all the families that suffered so much because of this tragedy. I will be sending a card to the hospital and a donation to the American Red Cross as well.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:00 am |
  20. Brandy

    Whether we are Christian. Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Athiest, Agnostic, et al, as a true American one must learn to embrace ALL religions, and points of view, this is technically the principles of being American. My graduating class in high school in 2001 in a small city in Virginia there were 56 languages spoken, and many religions. We all respect each other, and I have great friends from all backgrounds, rich, poor, refugees, all different "races" and ethnicity. To Muneef, your words are well spoken, and out of kindness, and you are a very honorable person. To all of those who CHOOSE to use profanity, hatred, and ill words towards someone who is trying to comfort another who is hurt, just face the facts that you are ignorant, sick in your mind, and to the core of your soul, if you have one. Scientists have not yet developed a device capable of measuring any kind of metaphysical energy, yet we know that the sun's light creates vitamin d in humans, and photosynthesis in plants, what other chemical reactions are happening that we cannot measure, detect, or see? Everything is energy, everything is frequency, everything is light, or dark, also known as "good", or "evil". Those of you who use harsh words toward your fellow humans will remain in the lower frequency (negative), while those of us who use the power of love to heal, nurture, and uplift, will be elevated to a higher frequency (positive). Science and Spirituality are thus one and the same. Now lets be kind to each other, and let all human beings know we love them, whether they are rich or poor, democrat, republican, christian, muslim, black, white, brown, green, or purple. I Love You ALL!!!!! ; )

    June 6, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Bronco

      Finally, someone who GETS it! I've been trying to say this for so long, but the words never came out right. I could just feel the positive energy flowing throughout this post. Thank you!

      June 7, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • pastafarian

      "To all of those who CHOOSE to use profanity, hatred, and ill words towards someone who is trying to comfort another who is hurt, just face the facts that you are ignorant, sick in your mind, and to the core of your soul, if you have one" -–Where is this tolerance you speak of?

      There have been extensive studies on the effects of prayer and intercessory prayer, all inconclusive. As far as the metaphysical is concerned why would we need to be able to measure it when we can monitor the physical effects for those being prayed for? Curious...

      June 8, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • junichi1986

      I am a CHRISTIAN, and i agree with this. I mean just makes since. LOVE everyone. two thumbs up , great positive post.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
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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.