A testimony of Gods’ grace and blessing and the power of prayer in the life of Jay Straub, a sinner that has been saved by faith in our redeemer, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. This testimony relates the difficulties that we can face in this life. Thanks to the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we can make it through these difficulties and many times, when we put our faith in Him, Jesus will bless us with some major miracles. I can certainly testify to that and will give you some of the details here.

My life as a believer began when I was 7 or 8 years old. I had been watching a local Baptist Church service on TV for several months when I learned that I was a sinner and that Jesus Christ paid the price for my sins on the cross. I knew that He was my Lord and Savior and I wanted to be baptized. My father went to Catholic Church every Sunday but basically never talked about God. My mother was a member of a Baptist Church but watched services on television and never attended. In my early teens, it was on my heart to study the Bible and have a true relationship with God and even though it was somewhat difficult for me, He reached out to me and helped me in the areas of difficulty.

God truly blessed me quite early in my life. I got my first full time flying job when I was nineteen-years-old doing aerial photography. That company went broke and I lost that job. A couple of months later a man in an oil-field related business, who had just purchased a twin engine Beechcraft, called me. He hired me, a nineteen-year-old, to fly his family and himself along with business acquaintances, around the country. I had completed two years of college with an Associates Degree in Aviation Management, but I did not have a four year degree. I am still a bit amazed that I eventually got hired to operate aircraft for American Airlines. All I can say is that Gods’ blessings are truly amazing and wonderful.

Over my lifetime, the Lord has blessed me with three miracles that I will share with you. The first of these occurred in January 1978. It happened only four months into my first major corporate flying job; I was still nineteen years of age. I was called to fly from Pampa, Texas, to Oklahoma City. The weather forecast had moderate icing but the tops of the clouds were at eight thousand feet. No problem, I would stay above the clouds until it was time to descend for the instrument approach at Oklahoma City. The aircraft had full de-ice equipment and was certified to fly in icing conditions. On the taxi out of Pampa, I performed the full deice system checklist and everything appeared to be working properly. Off we went.

When I got to Oklahoma City, approach control cleared me to descend extremely early. I told them I wanted to remain above the cloud deck until I got closer. They said, “unable, we need you down for jet traffic going into Will Rogers Airport.” So I followed the orders. Within three minutes the ice was already built up to the amount necessary to cycle the de-ice boots on the wings. I hit the switch and nothing happened. I hit it again and still nothing. I told approach I needed to climb and they said, “unable.” I waited about another minute and declared an emergency and told them I was climbing. In this short time, with full max red line power on the aircraft, we already had so much ice that it would not climb. I called approach and told them to take me straight to the outer marker on the ILS approach to Wiley Post Airport. I was losing altitude already while maintaining cruise airspeed and max cruise power. I intercepted the localizer on the approach right at the outer marker and I was exactly at the marker crossing altitude that the approach called for, even though I had absolutely no control over the rate of descent on the aircraft. The only thing I can say is that God had his Angels hand under that aircraft holding me up right where I needed to be. I came down the glideslope with full power set on the engines. You normally come down with power reduced significantly. I was just holding the pitch attitude at whatever would give me a faster than normal approach speed due to the loss of lift from the ice and the excess weight from the ice buildup. It is still a bit unbelievable to me. In spite of all these abnormal settings and circumstances, I was exactly on the glideslope all the way down the approach and I touched down on the runway with Max Power set on the throttles! I did not reduce the power at all until I touched the ground.

When I taxied in to the fixed base operator and the two linemen walked out to give me parking signals they looked at the aircraft and their mouths flew open as they pointed. When I got out of the aircraft, I saw it was covered from one end to the other with an inch of ice. I have no idea how much that added to the aircraft weight plus the extreme loss of lift that it was causing on the wings. When I got the aircraft to the shop to find out what was causing the problem, it was discovered that there were many tiny holes in the de-ice boots that were invisible to the eye. With no ice on the boots they would inflate and the pressure gauge read normal. But, when the ice put pressure on the boots the air just flowed out the holes between the ice and the rubber. The boots would not inflate and break the ice off.

The second miracle was in 1985 when I was employed as a pilot flying for corporations and individual aircraft owners. This was a year before I was hired at American Airlines. I was, by myself, flying a single engine Beechraft Bonanza to Destin, Florida. The plan was, I would fly a Beechcraft King Air back to Texas with the family of the Bonanza owner as passengers, and the Bonanza owner would fly the Bonanza back to Pampa. Forty miles north of Mobile Alabama I looked down and the oil pressure was showing zero. I thought it was a gauge problem and tapped it. Nothing changed. So, I thought I should immediately find a place to land and find out exactly what was going on. I just barely moved the throttle and the engine quit. I told air traffic control and they gave me a heading that turned me straight south to the Mobile Alabama Airport. I asked them how far, and they said forty miles. I said, “There has to be something closer than forty miles.” They said Mobile was absolutely the closest airport. I asked if they knew of any highways or roads close by and they said there were none that they knew of. Forty miles, I was sure I wouldn’t make it that far. I said a rather quick prayer because I had to pay attention to trying to find a place to land.

The sun was just about below the horizon and about all I could see was trees below me. Air traffic control transferred me to Mobile approach control. They asked me what my rate of descent was. I told them and a few seconds later they came back and said they thought I would make it to the airport. I was fairly sure that there was no way I would be able to glide forty miles based on the altitude I was at when the engine failed. I tried to restart the engine and managed to get it started. It ran about thirty seconds and made a very loud noise and completely seized up. The propeller completely quit turning in the airflow. Within a few seconds there was smoke in the cockpit which really made my heart pound. I learned later that the engine had seized and one of the piston rods had broken and gone through the casing. This allowed the small amount of oil that was left to get on the hot casing and create the smoke that was drawn into the cockpit.

Well, about three thousand feet above the trees I spotted the airport and it was clear that I would “not” make it. I asked approach if there were any roads I could land on and they said a two lane east-west highway was just ahead. Over highway 98 I looked to the left and the road was perfectly straight; looking out the right side it had a little curve to it. The straight road to the left made the most sense, so I turned to line up with it. The sun was down enough that everything on the ground was not totally visible. However it is almost like God had an angel grab my hand and made me do a 180 degree turn and land back to the west. I was less than 1000 feet above the ground at this time and it seemed quite foolish. The aircraft battery was still charged so I was able to put the landing gear down and turn on the landing lights. The cars that I was meeting got off the road and I cleared the last one going my direction by about fifty feet.

When I coasted off the road I was at the parking lot of the Second Baptist Church of Semmes, Alabama. Approach control had called an ambulance service and they pulled up behind me before I could even get out of the aircraft. I opened the door and started to climb out and they came running telling me to stay seated. They checked my blood pressure and it was “through the roof.” They told me to stay seated for at least ten minutes. They checked it again and said it was OK to get up. The church pastor came out and talked to me along with the news media and everyone in the multiple baseball diamonds across the road. More than one person told me how “lucky” I was. They said most of the time the traffic was bumper to bumper on that road, and there were so many traffic fatalities on that road that it was referred to as “bloody 98” by the local people. Of all the people I spoke to that evening, there is one that I remember most of all. I was talking to someone and I felt something tugging on my right shirt sleeve. I turned and looked down at a sweet little lady that was probably in her late seventies. She pointed her finger up in my face and said, “young man, Jesus Christ kept you here for a reason.” Well, I agreed with her because I knew then that God’s hand was definitely in my surviving that ordeal. The extent of God’s work in that would not be clear until the next day though.

The next day was Sunday and I asked the pastor if anyone could come to the hotel and pick me up to bring me to church, and he said, “Certainly.” I went to the hotel and spent the whole night laying there getting absolutely no sleep. I spent the whole night telling myself what a fool I was for making that 180 degree turn when I was less than 1000 feet above the ground. The next day in the daylight driving to the church it became very clear to me why one of God’s angels grabbed my hand to make that 180. Looking at where I would have touched down on that straight part of the road there were several sets of high voltage power lines crossing the road there. I am sure that I would not be here today if I had hit them and I couldn’t see how I would have missed them.

The third miraculous experience is a group of miracles, one after another, that God blessed me with. To this day I still find it beyond amazing as do a number of acquaintances that still occasionally call me “miracle man” when they see me. A little over seven years ago November 22, 1999 I was the Captain on an American Airlines flight from Tulsa to Dallas. We arrived late at DFW and the company sent a van to take our crew to the next gate. I had already taken my bags to the ramp and I went back up to the top of the metal stairs attached to the outside of the jetbridge to bring one of the flight attendants bags down. When I got to the top, the stairs broke loose from where they were attached. I fell 12 feet to the concrete below and landed on my head. Since I am 6’3” tall my head fell about 18 feet.

The ambulance crew arrived quickly. They had to cut my uniform off of me, which is a good thing I suppose, since it had quite a lot of blood on it. My skull was cracked and some bones in my face were broken. I arrived at Parkland Hospital and God blessed me with some of the best doctors and nurses that I could have ever hoped for. I had what is called a traumatic brain injury. About 48 hours went by and the swelling and pressure on my brain were to the point that I was going to die. Dr. George informed my wife Glenda that all they could do was perform a double craniotomy on me. At that time there were very few people in the entire world that had ever survived that type of surgery especially someone in their forties.

They would remove a fairly large portion of my skull on both sides to relieve the swelling and pressure. I survived that surgery and almost immediately came down with pneumonia. The pneumonia then immediately progressed to ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome.) My lungs had basically stiffened up to the point that I could not receive oxygen. On about day eight the medical staff told Glenda that I probably was not going to make it so she called our daughter Stefanie and got her to the hospital. Well, thanks be to God I survived it.

It took almost a month before I was wiggling my toes and doing minor things like that but it brought great joy to my family. I had one eyelid that wasn’t opening completely. A month into this they discovered that the bones in my right wrist were broken to pieces so they had to do surgery to put pins in my wrist area. I also had to wear a contraption that used rubber bands to keep my fingers extended so that they would not become useless. The pressure and swelling on my brain had finally gone down so they put my skull back together at the same time. Soon after that, I developed a staph infection in the brain and the bone flaps that they had reattached. So, they had to remove the bone flaps again to cure this staph infection. Dr. George said that they could not replace the pieces for a year because of the staph infection. The year of being removed also caused the bone flaps to deteriorate so they had to create new flaps out of plastic. They had to make a plastic helmet for me to wear to protect the brain to prevent any severe damage to the brain while the flaps were removed. I was at Parkland around two months.

They transferred me to Baylor Rehab hospital and things went pretty well there. I was there a little over a month and I was able to walk a little bit & my thought process was in fairly good shape so they sent me home. I was home for about a month but proceeded to do very poorly and regressed severely. I was sent to the Center for Neuro Skills for a few weeks but was regressing so severely that they could not help and I was transferred to Zale Lipshy Hospital. I was unable swallow so they had to put a tube in my stomach to feed me. I had to have a catheter and a bedpan. I was unable to walk again. At this point I was physically and mentally shot. My thinking and my memory went downhill a great deal. I was in Zale Lipshy Hospital about three more months. Some people thought that I might not walk again and a few thought that I would spend the rest of my life in a nursing home. You have heard the term “dead man walking”? Well, I was basically a “dead man that could barely walk.” After my time at Zale Lipshy, I was transferred to the Center for Neuro Skills rehab facility. I lived there almost ten months. I had to learn again how to walk and talk and think.

Our God is truly an awesome God. He answered the prayers of many people or I wouldn't be here or be able to tell you about born again salvation through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord. The main point that I want to share here is that God’s son, Jesus Christ, went to the cross and paid for our sin, and on the third day he rose from the dead. If we repent and follow him as our Lord and Savior then we will spend eternity with God. What an awesome joyful thought to be with and serve a God that loves us so much that He paid the price of our sin for us.

If we refuse this we will be separated from God and spend eternity away from Him where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth just as Christ said. That is not a pretty picture but if we will not confess that we are sinners, and repent, and make Jesus our Savior that went to the cross for us the Lord of our life, how can we expect anything but eternal sorrow and pain? I also want to make it clear that repentance does not mean that we are perfect. If that were the case then nobody would enter heaven. If the apostle Paul said “what a wretched man I am”, what does that make me? Repentance is confessing our sin and doing our best to turn from it and follow, in obedience, our Lord Jesus Christ. When someone says, “REPENT”, pay close attention! It is sad that God had to bless me with a miracle like this to get me involved in truly sharing the gospel as Christ commanded in the great commission.

Eternity is a very big deal, but this life is also a big concern. If Jesus is Lord of our life and we are willing to follow him, then I must absolutely testify that he will bless us in this life and in many cases perform miracles that are an answer to the prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ and our own prayers. He will get us through difficult times. He will also send some wonderful people our way to help us get through these things. Also, as scripture tells us, He will bring us home to be with Him when our days that He has allotted us are done. What a joy!!!

God Bless You,

Jay Straub