In an Instant

Saturday was such a normal day. My boys were at Walt Disney World covering Night of Joy for, Summer was at Universal Studios for Rock the Universe with her BFF, Ron was running sound for a candidate’s forum and I was home doing laundry, surfing Facebook and writing blog posts. A lot of the youth from church were posting on Facebook about how excited they were because they would be heading to Rock the Universe that afternoon.

Suddenly, my phone rang, it was my boss, my Pastor, he asked if I was in town and I said that I was. He said he needed me to go to the church and send out a phone message and an email blast, there was an accident on the way to Rock the Universe, several kids were injured at least 2 seriously, Garrett was one of the more seriously injured. He didn’t have any other details. He would be heading to Lakeland Regional Medical Center and he would keep me updated and I was to keep the congregation updated and get people praying.

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I immediately reached out on my personal Facebook page, before heading to church to start the prayers coming. As I grabbed my purse and keys to head to church I called my kids at Disney World to get them praying, I called my husband, as I jumped in the car I started calling family members and as they answered I heard, “The kids already contacted us, we are praying call someone else!” I arrived at church and tried to calm my spirit so that I could record the message that needed to go out. My husband met me at church and prayed over me while I recorded the message that would alert our church family of the horrible accident. It was the most difficult thing I have had to do in a long time. In my message I told everyone to watch their email and the church Facebook page for updates, that Pastor would update me and I would update them as news came in.

My husband and I went home and prayed and cried and prayed as I started to receive messages from parents who were heading to the hospital to be with their kids. It was almost 5 hours later before I received a report from Pastor. Seven people were in the SUV, a tire blew and the SUV flipped into the median, 2 teens were ejected from the vehicle. All 7 were transported to one of 2 hospitals. Tiffany, Brandon and Aaron were treated for minor injuries and released. Alex had a concussion, Garrett had head injuries and a bruised lung. Katelyn has 6 fractured vertebrae, a broken ankle, a broken thumb, a bruised kidney and a bruised liver. Sierra is on life support with traumatic head injuries.

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Our church is in shock. Late Saturday night it is decided that Sunday morning’s service will be a prayer service. It was a surreal morning. TV news crews in the back of the church, community members who have never been in our church coming to pray for our kids and support our church. It was a beautiful service. My husband went out and got red roses and put them on stage, 4 on either side of the altar for the 4 with minor injuries, 1 on Garret’s microphone (he plays keyboard & sings on the worship team), 1 on Mark’s microphone (he is Katelyn’s dad and he lead’s worship and plays guitar) and 1 on Sierra’s microphone (she sings on the worship team). It was a beautiful and powerful visual throughout the service.

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I am writing this post to ask you to pray.These kids, especially Sierra, Katelyn and Garrett are “my kids” they have grown up with my kids, they have been in classes I have taught, camps I have led. Their parents are my friends. Pray for Sierra-she needs a miracle. Pray for Katelyn-she is in a lot of pain. Pray for Garrett-he came home from the hospital yesterday but he is in pain. Pray for Alex-she is also home from the hospital but is in a lot of pain. Pray for all of the kids that were in the SUV their lives have been forever changed. Pray for the kids in the other vehicles in the caravan. They witnessed their friends being taken on stretchers, they saw Sierra being put into the helicopter-they are scared and hurting. Pray for the parents of all the kids involved, this is a very difficult time for them. Pray for Pastor Carter-he needs God’s strength and grace to minister to these kids and their families as well as the entire congregation. Please pray for our church Journey Assembly of God in Bradenton, FL, we are all hurting. For everyone associated with these kids, life changed in an instant.

If you would like to keep up to date on what is going on you can follow the JourneyFacebook Page. Sierra’s family has also set up a Facebook page Prayer for Sierra Johnson there is also information on that page as to how you can donate to her family. A friend of mine came up with the idea to sell wristbands that say “This Too Shall Pass” which is what is on the tattoo Sierra recently got. Unfortunately, we would need an initial $250 investment to order 600 bands that we could sell for $2.00 and raise $1200 for Sierra’s family and neither of us have that money to give at this time. We are also trying to use the #PrayerforSierra hashtag on Twitter to spread the need for prayer.

UPDATE: In the 2 hours since I wrote this post $500 was donated and we have ordered 1600 bracelets. Praise the Lord!! I will be setting up a page to sell the bracelets on and I will let you know where you can order yours.

UPDATE: Sierra drew many closer to Jesus in the last days of her life. She went home to be with her Savior 9/13/12.

Please share this post with everyone you know. God delights in the prayers of His people and we need those prayers right now.



  1. Juliana Pace says

    Thanks, Cindy! A job very well done and thanks for all you’ve done since that awful wreck! You are special but I think you know that’s how I feel! I just can’t imagine how all must feel that were even closer to all. We’ve just been around Journey for 7 years and it’s surely changed my life for the past 4+ days! Praying, praying, praying, sleepless nights, tears on and off! Last night I prayed for 2 hours in the middle of the night! I think if I stopped praying my heart would be even more broken! I surely miss being with you all, too! Staples finally came out yesterday so hoping to be back ASAP! Meanwhile still praying and ever on my heart and mind! XOXOXOXO Luv U!

  2. Angie Grooms says

    Thank you for the story,heartbreaking.
    Praying for Sierra
    The others that were injured
    Prayers for all the familes and your church
    Lord have mercy
    Heal, restore, comfort,magnify their faith
    In Jesus I pray

  3. Steve Hansen says

    Hi, I am presently monitoring the FB page for Caleb Dehart, Sierra’s cousin. I have a number of people asking how they can purchase the bracelets. Can you email me with info so I can direct them to the proper place.

  4. Laura M says

    I continue to pray for Sierra everyday ! However, I work in mental health and having been through a similar incident myself years ago, I strongly encourage any of the kids who witnessed this event, either in other vans, those who were hospitalized or even those who were close friends, to seek some type of counseling. There are numerous resources out there for Free as well as reduced cost counseling for Children in Manatee County. Manatee Glens, Hospice, Jewish Family Children’s Services.. ect. This was a very traumatic thing to see, and even more so is very traumatic for a child to process. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with these families.

  5. Juliana Pace says

    LOL…yes, Cindy, he told me (of course, you have boys). Thought it was a great idea and I’m working on seeing how many I can buy. I’d like to get several and come up with a letter to send to some prayer warriors and ask them to use the bracelets to remind them to keep praying! XOXOXO

  6. tia kohl says

    Thank you so much cindy. Please email me so I can get some. I’m alsi very close with the family. And would like to get some for them.

  7. Toni Webb says

    Cindy, I saw on the fb page that the event for the candle light service was removed. Does this mean that it has been canceled?

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