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. JC

    This is the problem right here. You people are polarized to a sickening level. Atheists, you're not smarter than anyone else. Christians, you're not more moral or holier than anyone else. You people just think you are. I'm not a believer but reading this makes me want to jump off a cliff into a pit of alligators with flaming sharks on their backs. Glad the kid is alive, but noone's really talking about the others who weren't so lucky.

    August 17, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  2. Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

    “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.”

    Yeah he smacked the p! $ $ out fo yur son and showed him.

    August 17, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  3. JEN


    August 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  4. 56vrar

    I understand WHY people have faith, but is no credit given to the surgeons that operated on this kid? I think it had more to to with his survival than faith did. I hope the best for them.

    August 14, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • sally gauthier

      And Whom do you think steadies the hand of the surgeon??

      August 15, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • blahblahblah

      Couldn't agree with you more, they should be thanking the doctors and nurses that are still trying to save their child, and point the finger of blame at their imaginary deity who sent the tornado in the first place.

      August 17, 2011 at 2:31 am |
  5. Darren

    so why did they god do this to the kid in the 1st place ?

    August 2, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Rhonda

      God didnt do this. Nature did.

      August 2, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • gupsphoo

      I thought nature was created by God, who was supposedly omniscient enough to know what it could do to mankind.

      August 2, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • CrownRoyal

      If he's praying to a biblical God, he's praying to Jesus. Who says we are not of this world, and the world hates those who love him. So that is all going to depend on which concept of God you are questioning about here.

      August 5, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  6. Mashahood

    May Allah shower His mercy and blessings on the kid and his family; and heal him ASAP. Ameen

    August 1, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Avd- you are still an idiot

      August 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • sardukar

      May the Flying Spaghetti Monster shower Its mercy and blessings on the kid and his family; and heal him ASAP. Ramen.

      August 4, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  7. me

    My mom's friend was cured by a faith healer – no joke, and no lie. He felt a burning sensation throughout his entire body, and when he went back to the doctor, he was informed that his cancer had been cured.

    July 31, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Mari

      i have been healed by the blood of Jesus many times, it's not a religion it is a relationship with Christ. it's an experience that if one calls his name it too will come to you. I use to hear people talk about the holy spirit and healings and was cluess and now I can witness that if you knock the door the healing will come through Christ only.He is the Mesiah. People recieve healings all the time at my church..= it's called FAITH in JESUS :0)

      July 31, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  8. Tuanoe

    So how does someone get in contact with his old friend Erik?

    So that he can reminisce about gay men who can't spell respect, or even if you may have ahh soo??

    July 27, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
  9. Muneef

    Not only natural disasters that your country attracts but as well human disasters before it was the Mexican Gulf oil pollution and today another nasty faulty action ;

    June 28, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
  10. Chris

    We will all live for an eternity in either heaven or hell. Despite what you might believe, The Bible makes it pretty clear that hell will be a place of unquenchable torment and suffering. What an awful fate for anyone! I only want to see as many people aviod this destination as possible. I know people will mock this, and say I'm simplistic, and narrow minded, and all kinds of other nasty things, but that's ok. I can only speak what I know to be true, and you have the right to accept it or reject it. Read John 3:36 which says: He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. It's that simple. Or, if you want to know how simple it is, consider the theif on the cross next to Jesus. You can read Luke 23:42-43. 42. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
    43. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. This is the thief on the cross speaking to Jesus, and Jesus replies to him, and he is saved and will be in Heaven. Here he was, on a cross next to Jesus, and he could do nothing, and he didn't even say that much, but Jesus knew his heart. .....for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands
    every plan and thought. If you seek Him, He will be
    found by you; but if you forsake Him, he will cast you
    off for ever." (1 Chronicles 28:9)
    If you don't know Jesus as Lord, but would like to know more, the easiest was is to read The Bible. If you don't have a Bible, you get read it online. I would recommend the gospel of John to start with in the New Testament if you don't know where to start. Or, seek out a Bible believing church or talk to someone you know is a Christian, as I can guarantee they would love to share what Christ has done for them and let you know how He can change your life

    June 28, 2011 at 1:52 am |
  11. Kempo99

    A feminist who follows god is like a freed slave still living on a plantation…
    -Matthew Chapman

    June 27, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • CrownRoyal

      Femenists who follow God are all the sudden unnacceptable? How tolerant of you!

      August 5, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  12. Just Think

    God never said there wouldn't be trials and temptation. He gave us a wonderful world and we are destroying it. Have you given a thought to the fact that America took prayer out of school and they don't want the ten commandments to be shown. We have taken God out of our country therefore, we have lost our blessing. I believe we should humble ourselves and pray and He will heal our land. If we all acted and lived as Jesus taught what a wonderful country we would have. He told us to love our neighbor as ourselves, help the poor, feed the homeless. Let's get rid of the "I" mentality and start thinking what can I do today to bless someone.

    June 27, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
  13. oxymoron

    Oh look! Another belief blog on CNN for the atheist congregation to come out and cram their gospel down people's throats..

    Love how atheists bow down to a god (themselves/man), they preach a gospel, they congregate, and then cram their ways down the throats of others... And then they turn and say, "You guys cram your stuff down our throats!"

    All I can do is laugh at the ignorance they reveal in their own words... "There is no such thing as an all knowing and all seeing God... How do I know? Because I am an all knowing and all seeing god.. bow down to me and my brethren!"

    Stupidity.. blinders of pride, ego, self....

    June 27, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • doug

      i agree, its a double standard with atheists. why should they care if we believe in God, i dont care that they dont.

      July 28, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • Andre A

      You shouldn't laugh at the ignorance, you should cry.

      August 1, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • sardukar

      As pastafarian I tell you that the Flying Spaghetti Monster disagrees strongly with you. Ramen.

      August 4, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  14. Sir Craig

    "From tornado to hospital, prayer sustains Missouri family"

    Okay, and what good has it done, besides distracted you from realizing your "god", if he did exist, seems to be a vicious b*st*rd? How about wasting less time essentially talking to yourself and actually spend it thinking of and caring for your family? How about thanking the medical teams who are struggling to keep "god's protected ones" alive?

    Or does that make too much sense?

    June 26, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • Christine

      You athiests are the most hateful. You will find out one day and oh boy, you are going to be screaming hell down.

      June 27, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • MrHanson

      I guess we just all need to realize that we all decended from fish and have no more purpose on this earth than a tapeworm. Nothing but molecules in motion. Atheism provides so much sense of purpose and hope.

      June 27, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • R in Ohio ...

      Honestly... that's just mean. Sir Craig, how about you just see it for what it is, a man loves his son. A man's son is critically injured. It doesn't bother me that you are an aetheist, that's your right... but why be so mean to someone who may lose their son??? You're a jerk.

      June 27, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • Kay

      @Sir Craig

      Just remember despite how you may feel. God our father is a forgiving god and he love you deeply inspite of how you feel about it. I pray that your eyes will be opened one day and realize how compassionate our God is towards us. He knows, he care, He sees and he will be with us always. He is such a loving God, that even if we hate him or even question him, He still loved us enough to send his Son Jesus to die for our sins that we may be saved. The greatest gift that was ever given to man kind. But I would like to point out that the we did not get here by our own thoughts but the by the power of the holy spirit. He has granted those physicians the gift of medicine and as well as placed other gifts inside us all. Even the gift of life. I am praying for you sir. Just know God Loves you. Be blessed in the lord always..... Also the all the families who were affected by the Tornadoes. Our prayers go out to you. In jesus name that you find peace and comfort during your difficult time. Just know there is not problem or situation that Jesus cant handle. The bible tells us if two or three are gathered in his name that shall he be in the midst of us. You will come out of this victorious in the lord. Just keep him in the center of your life and he will see you though. Love and prayers.... Kay. R.

      July 14, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • Siyajkak

      praying to God didn't do one bit of damage to them. It sustains them, gives them hope, and keeps them from falling apart at every disaster that strikes them. I don't care what you believe, but don't go shouting down anyone who says the G-word.

      July 21, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • sardukar

      @Christine: yea we are going to burn and cry in severe pain till end of times, but he still loves you.

      August 4, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • CrownRoyal

      Another ignorant intollerant atheist claiming things about christianity which are false. Hint- if u want to bash christianity, learn what it is first. Or you just look foolish. End of lesson.

      August 5, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  15. God's Puppet

    God works in mysterious ways. I'm sure he has a reason for this hellish nightmare and suffering you are going through. Maybe he bet your son's soul with the devil on how "hard" you can pray or maybe your great-great grandfather wasn't pious enough and he's just now seeking his revenge. God enjoys sacrificing sons, blood lust is very soothing to him. It's not for us to know, however, we are just slaves and it is important to stay groveling and feel humbled by his love.

    June 26, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Siyajkak

      perhaps he was about to come down with a horrible disease that would make his life a living hell. Maybe, had he survived the Tornado, he would have seen the destruction, gone down a self destructive path of moral nihilism, and become an awful person. Maybe this was just a freak accident. God created the world, gave it structure and laws, and gave us free will. accidents happen. without the pain, we cannot enjoy the pleasure. This young boy sounds like a nice guy that will go to heaven if he dies, or if he lives, have a loving Father in heaven that saved him, and one on earth that stood by him, as well as many good people working at the hospital to save him also

      July 21, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  16. Brad May

    I love how they say prayer sustained them as it shows a picture of a patient hooked up to tons of medical equipment...
    God does not exist.
    Brad May

    June 26, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • R in Ohio ...

      I was curious why you put your email address there... why would you attend a Christian college or work for one if you don't believe in God???? Did the aetheist college reject your application??? Is that the only place you could find a job or would accept you into their Masters program or something? Just sayin....

      June 27, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • Siyajkak

      God does exist

      and you have no support to say you are more right than I am

      July 21, 2011 at 12:07 am |
    • AndrewGrayson

      Good point Brad, but you seem foolish wasting your time with these delusional folk. They will never accept reality because they simply cannot handle it. They feel no sense of purpose or direction or meaning without God/Myth/Religion in their life.

      August 10, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
  17. Ariel

    God is so real and so are miracles. Thankfully these people were not in the Home Depot as it was destroyed.

    June 26, 2011 at 9:02 am |
  18. dave

    thank god im atheist

    June 26, 2011 at 7:03 am |
    • joe

      Sad! Atheists are the worst thinkers.

      June 26, 2011 at 8:22 am |
    • Aaron L.

      your doctors and scientists are atheist joe. What you christians are doing is red taping space exploration. you're all crazy and delusional .

      June 26, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • MrHanson

      Red taping space exploration? Please Explain.

      June 27, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • Siyajkak

      atheists aren't bad people. bad people are bad people, but they atheist, christian, muslim, etc. I have several Atheist friends. they are my friends becasue we share interests, senses of humor, and don't force our beliefs on each other. Now let's all be friends, shall we? Jesus said love thy neighbor, even the unfaithful. Atheists...i guess it depends on your policy of how to treat people. hopefully its good

      July 21, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • OnLooker

      Which President pioneered space exploration? JFK, a devout Catholic.

      July 28, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • CrownRoyal

      Aaron. It's the atheist socialist engineers who are red taping space exploration. Believe it or not, judeo christian free market put a man on the moon, a robot on mars, defeated communism in the cold war, and the list is huge. No it's not perfect. But go look at the names of all your precious colleges. All the christian names. Who founded them? Christians did. Learn the facts before you make a fool of yourself. Get over it.

      August 5, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  19. Cucky the Wallabe

    Stupid tornado!!!! It ruined that kid's life, that family, and that kid's his hair. ):<

    June 26, 2011 at 6:35 am |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      Yeah everything happens for a reason. God beat the $ h !t out the child for a reason or allowed it to happen. *rolling eyes*

      July 28, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • Sunnye

      Reasons. Having them keeps people sane in the face of tragedy.

      July 31, 2011 at 3:59 am |
  20. Angela


    June 25, 2011 at 12:47 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
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.