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Her recovery & unfolding ministry mark yearly Thanksgiving milestone

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Thanksgiving for most people is marked by family traditions centered around tables heaped with steaming culinary delights. But for Laurie Thompson, Thanksgiving is more than a tradition, it’s her testimony.
Seventeen years ago this Thanksgiving, Thompson slept in the back of her father’s camper-shelled pick-up truck when headlights from an oncoming vehicle suddenly pierced the stretch of cold, dark Georgia highway, seemingly locking its beams on the Thompsons’ vehicle.
Thompson’s father, who was hauling a trailer load of Christmas trees from South Carolina to Florida, swerved unsuccessfully to avoid a collision and the two pick-up trucks crashed head-on.
When Thompson’s father regained consciousness, he saw the Christmas trees ablaze on top of the camper shell under which his two teenage daughters had been sleeping in the back of the truck.
Pounding desperately on the camper shell’s Plexiglas, Thompson’s father screamed his daughters’ names. For the first time in her life, Thompson said, she heard fear in her father’s voice. She strained to yell back, “I’m here, Daddy! I’m here!” But her voice was muted as she lost consciousness.
The impact from the collision propelled Thompson into the camper top, crushing her spine, before throwing her head-first into a portable television set, knocking her left eye out of its socket and crushing her face.
Three ambulances and one small-town hospital later, Thompson, her sister and parents found themselves at a rural south-Georgia hospital.
“The doctors told my dad that none of us would live … so [Thanksgiving is] a time to really reflect on the fact of how God is good and God is faithful — it’s a happy time for me,” said Laurie, whose husband, Kevin, is a master of divinity student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C.
Thompson’s road to Southeastern has been one filled with curves, peaks and valleys.
After regaining consciousness in the surgical intensive care unit, Thompson, then 14, realized she had no feeling in her body below her chest. A horrified look on a passerby’s face prompted her to ask for a hand-held mirror. “I didn’t look human,” she recalled.
Thompson said she briefly considered committing suicide after seeing her swollen and marred reflection in the mirror.
“Even though there were people all around me, I felt abandoned,” she said. “Because my family had been through so much already, I felt I had no right to ask for them to pay more attention to me.”
Knowing she couldn’t make it on her own, Thompson said she cried out to the Lord, “I can’t live this way. I don’t know if you’re really there. I don’t know what to believe. I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t know why this has happened. But I can’t go on. And I know that you say that you’re always there and that you’ll always be there for us. And I need you. I need you in my life. … I cannot live like this. And I’ve got to feel you in a way that I’ve never felt you before.”
After her prayer, Thompson said, she suddenly felt God’s presence like a fountain of life-loving peace wash over her from head to toe. “I didn’t know if I would walk or see again, but I knew God would give me the strength [to persevere],” she said.
On Dec. 19, three weeks and three days after the accident, Thompson was transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation center in Greenville, S.C., near her home.
By the spring semester of her sophomore year in high school, about a year and a half after the accident, Thompson traded her wheelchair in for a set of crutches, realizing her promise to doctors that God could heal her despite their prognosis that she would never walk again.
Today, Thompson wears leg braces and walks using a cane, with only paralysis from her knees down. “I don’t know how the Lord did it, but he allowed me to get partial feeling back,” she recounted.
“I have people come up to me all the time and ask me what happened, and instead of it offending me, I take it as an opportunity to share my faith and show what the Lord has done in my life,” she said.
Thompson, 31, who earned a bachelor of arts degree in French and international trade from Clemson University in South Carolina and a certificate in biblical studies from Columbia International University, Columbia, S.C., regularly shares her testimony through a singing, speaking and writing ministry.
Her fiery determination, which she jokingly attributes to the red hues in her strawberry-blond hair, compels her to share with people that her disability has proven to be a blessing in disguise. The mother of a 3-year-old son and year-old daughter, she said God has blessed her beyond measure.
“I am more whole now in my life than I ever was before that accident happened,” Thompson said. “[And] wholeness on the inside is more important to me. At this point in my life, I feel I am at the center of God’s will. I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Thompson’s husband of eight years, Kevin, said the first time he met his wife he sensed something different about her. “Looking back, now I see that it was Christ in her,” he said. Through the testimony of her life, Thompson helped lead her then future husband to the Lord. Kevin describes Thompson as having a glow about her — a physical and a spiritual beauty that emanates wherever she goes.
With a voice like a chorus of angels, Thompson sings “Amazing Grace” as part of her testimony as an offering to God.
“I’m so thankful for what God has done in my life,” she said. “I feel like the majority of my real living has been since the accident.”
At the anniversary of that tragic day, marked by a national holiday, Thompson and her family will again be giving thanks for all the Lord has done in their lives. “But,” she said, “as Christians we’re really called to worship and give thanks all the time.”

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  • Christin Lockhart