Willie and Judy Pearce
Willie Pearce is a veteran of Living Word Family Church. From the first time he attended with his wife Judy and their daughter, Jordan, in 2001 he quickly became involved in the woven thread that is LWFC. He’s volunteered on the Welcome team, Parking Lot team, Usher team, as part of the MAFIA in the youth ministry and most currently as a member of the Security team. His commitment to his church family hasn’t wavered, not even when he had to deal with the tragedy of losing Judy on January 4th, 2008. But that was not the last time his faith and commitment would be tested.
Willie and Jenn first met at the Dominion By The Word conference in 2008. It was no surprise to Willie since he was the one who invited her via the Internet. He says her smile was the first thing that caught his attention, and it continues to brighten his life to this day. Jenn may have visited that night because of Willie’s invite, but she continued attending every evening session of that conference. In no time she and her two sons, Drake and Cory, considered LWFC their church home and Jenn began serving in the Children’s Ministry, where she is now a team Service Coordinator.
In addition to time volunteering at church, Willie and Jenn love spending time together. It’s not uncommon for them to take long rides on Willie’s motorcycle. So, with the temperature being in the mid 60′s it made things just right for a ride on this beautiful Saturday in January. They had been riding around Raleigh for the day and at about 5 pm they decided it was time to head home so they could spend a quiet evening together watching a movie while the boys were at their dad’s for the night. Willie just wanted to make a quick stop to do his security check at the church. As they sat in the turn lane at a red light discussing the fun they’d had that day, the unthinkable happened.
Willie reflected, “We don’t think she saw us at first.” The woman driving the mini van was distracted and didn’t see the cars stopping in front of her. Rather than hitting the cars she turned into the left turn lane Willie and Jenn were in. The van was going 50 mph at impact. Jenn was thrown 35 feet and Willie 40 feet. The driver failed to hit the breaks immediately and ran over Jenn’s legs; stopping with the front of the vehicle on top of Willie. He explained, “The engine was on my cheek. Waist up I was under the car with my legs sticking out. The motor had me pinned.” Jenn’s legs were not run over once, but twice. She remembered, “The first time she ran over the tops of my legs. The second time the back tires turned my left knee onto the back side of my leg.” Jenn could hear the woman screaming inside the car while trying to maneuver it.
In the time it took the ambulance to get there several bystanders pitched in to help where they could. Willie believes those bystanders were there for a reason. Willie recounted, “For people who don’t believe in angels there were 20 of them there that day.” He refers to the 20 people who lifted the van off him, rolling it back. Two bystanders stayed near Jenn speaking words of encouragement to her. She recalls, “I could only see the bottom of them, but one of them was in army fatigues. I could hear Willie screaming my name and they kept telling me he would be okay.”
At Wake Med Hospital Jenn remembers being put in a room with Willie for a short time and although they could not look at each other they could touch hands. Willie had severe swelling in his face and head by that point. He had a deep gouge on the side of his head, a fractured left cheek bone, 8 to 9 fractured ribs and a fractured sternum. Jenn had a crushed hip, broken right leg, damage to her ankle and knee and a broken elbow.
Jenn felt God with her through it all as she recalled, “I had just finished reading the book ‘The Prayer of Jabez’. I kept saying, “I am going to be blessed! The whole time I was on the pavement with people all around me.” That evening the doctor spoke to Jenn about her crushed hip. She was going to have temporary screws put in that night, and would have to have surgery a few days later. Several friends from LWFC, who had arrived at the hospital right away, prayed with her and agreed that she was healed. Before the screws where put in another round of x-rays and scans were done. The orthopedic surgeon came in with amazing news. Not only was Jenn not going to need the screws, but she was not going to need any surgery because she no longer had a crushed hip. He would just have to pop her leg back in place. Three days later when she was being released the doctor again commented on her quick healing, “There are a bunch of doctors and nurses standing around your chart right now getting ready to discharge you, but they are trying to figure you out. They can see from your first x-rays so many injuries and now they are releasing you without any of those injuries.” To which Jenn replied, “It’s not a mystery. I know exactly what it is. It’s God!” Jenn shared that without the support of her family and church she doesn’t believe she would have been able to heal so quickly.
Willie’s experience was slightly different, but there was never a question of God being there with him. “I was in survival mode.” Willie said. “ I told myself I have to survive. I’ve got a brand new wife and brand new family. I’ve got three kids to live for!”
Later in the hospital he started thinking about the reason he was alive. The only reason he came up with was because God had a plan for his life. Whenever I got down on myself I reminded myself, “You’re here for a reason. God’s got something for me and I’m ready!’”
He was healing as expected the first week in the hospital but then Willie got a blood clot in his lungs. He was heavily medicated, was put on a breathing machine and had a chest tube to drain the fluid in his lungs. Willie recalled, “I vaguely remember people being there. I felt a warmth and comfort coming from whomever was there.” When they reduced the medication he was able to recognize and acknowledge those that visited him. “It felt like someone had their arms around me. It’s just how God works, it feels like someone constantly hugging you.”
Meanwhile, Jenn was being cared for at home. Many people from LWFC helped with meals, house work and took up collections to help with bills. Her sons also pitched in becoming a huge help to Jenn. Willie commented, “My step-sons brought their pillows and blankets and slept downstairs with their mom. Every time they left her side they asked her “What can I get for you mama?” Jenn remembers, “One day my oldest son took out the trash without being asked and then took out the mop and started mopping. It was amazing!”
Due to the injuries she was healing from she was unable to visit Willie more than once a week but she would call three times a day to get updates. Those updates determined the prayer request for the day. She posted it on Facebook, texted and called friends and family creating a prayer chain. She was overwhelmed with the love and outpouring of compassion from everyone at church just wanting to be there for them. Jenn happily expressed, “I don’t know what people do without a church.” Willie agreed, “When you have the support and love of your brothers and sisters in Christ you can feel it.”
As Willie was healing in the hospital he also felt as if he was being attacked. “The enemy was wanting to take me out one way or another!” Willie acknowledged. “He tried with the car, it didn’t work. He tried with the blood clot to my lungs, that didn’t work. Then he tried with depression; attacking me mentally.” Three days into Willie’s downward spiral Jenn decided that instead of worrying about Willie she told herself, “I’m turning it over to God completely because I can’t change it.” The next day he was already doing better. Willie was released from the hospital on February 14th. Jenn said it was the best Valentine’s day present she could have ever asked for.
Willie and Jenn recently went back to serving in their ministries. At the first men’s breakfast Willie was able to attend he thanked them all for their prayers and everything they had done for him and his family. He joyfully declared, “The enemy tried to take us out…it didn’t work!”