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Youth from Union Grove’s Mountain View survive van wreckcomment (0)

January 20, 2011

By Anna Swindle

When 18 members of the youth group of Mountain View Baptist Church, Union Grove, signed up for the Xtreme Winter Conference in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., in late December, they had no idea that they’d experience God’s protection firsthand.

While on the way to the conference on the morning of Dec. 30, one of the church vans hit black ice, causing a wreck that, amazingly, left all the passengers virtually unhurt.

“The whole thing was a true faith-building experience, and the youth are different people now,” said Bryan Pearl, the Marshall Baptist Association church’s youth minister and interim pastor. “They have a new appreciation for driving now and for each other. It was a true bonding moment.”

The accident occurred when the first van, filled with the younger youth group members, hit a patch of black ice while going downhill. The van, which was being driven by Pearl, slid into a tree on the side of the road, bounced back into the road and then hit the second van. Luckily the impact caused the second van’s fender to pop its front tire, which meant the metal from the tire dug through the ice and brought the van to a stop at the bottom of the hill.

“I’ve always believed in angels, but realizing that this whole situation was the reality of God was amazing,” said Jackie Davis, an adult leader on the trip.

“The icy conditions meant we were going slowly to begin with, and then hitting the tree kept us from going off the mountain.”

Remarkably Davis was the only one who was injured. She received six stitches to close a leg wound and was treated for some facial cuts and bruising.

After the vans came to a halt and the passengers on Pearl’s van took a minute to comprehend what had just happened, the older youth rushed over to help their younger friends safely exit the van. Meanwhile one youth ran to the top of the hill to prevent other vehicles from coming down. Eventually — once everyone had safely evacuated — the first van caught fire.

“The older youth were wonderful,” Davis said. “They really kept their heads and we were so impressed.”

While awaiting help, the group of 22 was welcomed into the home of a woman who lives at the foot of the hill. Group members kept warm by her wood-burning fireplace, and her friendly dog was a great comfort to them all, Davis said. They also made a group decision: They’d go ahead and attend the conference.

“Bryan shared how God was with them every step of the way,” said Randall Stoner, director of missions for Marshall Association. “God just took care of them, and they got so much more out of the conference than they would have otherwise.”

According to Pearl, the youth were forever impacted by the accident and know they’re incredibly fortunate to be alive and unhurt.

“We lost a van and that’s all we lost,” he said.

“I always say, ‘You can live in faith, or you can live in fear,’ and this was an example of a time when we had to live in faith and let God take care of us.”

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