One day prior to his first meeting as organizer of the Christian Family Fun Day, Jonathan Hanks was pronounced dead at the scene of a wreck March 3rd in Laurel Fork.
Hanks is alive and well, however, despite a fractured lumbar bone in his back. He believes the accident was no coincidence, but Satan working to put a halt to the Christian Family Fun Day, a huge free event held in Hillsville the third Saturday in September the past two years.
“I am a walking miracle. I was pronounced dead on arrival. People that have seen my truck say they just can’t believe I lived through that,” said Hanks, Youth Pastor at Galax First Assembly of God. “I believe Satan tried to take me out because something big is going to happen at Christian Family Fun Day. With him trying to attack my life and other people’s lives, I just want to see this thing blow up even bigger than before.”
Hanks said March 3rd started the way so many days have before for him. He was in his normal routine of returning home from work from his third-shift job. He had gotten his normal cup of morning coffee and made a phone call to his mother and other family members on his way home.
“And the next thing I know, my world had went completely black,” Hanks said.
According to the Virginia State Police, the accident occurred near the Family Stop & Go in Laurel Fork on U.S. 58 when Hanks lost control of his vehicle, crossed the centerline and struck a 2006 Nissan Titan driven by a Meadows of Dan man. Hanks’ vehicle was t-boned on the passenger’s side and pushed down an embankment before coming to rest against some trees. Crews from the Laurel Fork and Hillsville Fire Departments worked to extricate Hanks from the vehicle.
“I just remember flashes. The main thing is that on March 3 at 7:15 a.m., I was pronounced DOA. They told rescue units I was dead, and that was the reason they got the other fellow out first,” Hanks said. “When they came to me and saw me moving that is when they realized I was alive. They had to cut me out. The first question I asked when I came to my senses was ‘How was the other guy?’ They said, ‘He is in a lot better shape than you are.’”
Hanks has a fractured lumbar bone in his back and he still has a hard time standing up and walking around. Doctors expect his recovery to take between 3-6 weeks.
“But considering everything that happened, I am doing great,” said Hanks, a 2007 graduate of Carroll County High School. “I am 25 years old but I learned a great lesson that day. Even though I’m sure I almost went to Heaven, I have a whole new outlook on life. Even though Heaven is paradise, life here is important, too, and it is a gift.”
As one might expect, Hanks was not able to hold his first scheduled Christian Family Fun Day meeting the following day on March 4th. But just one week later, on March 11th, Hanks was back to hold his first meeting at Hillsville Pentecostal Holiness Church.
“It went awesome,” Hanks said. “We had a good time of fellowship.”
Hanks just recently took over as organizer of the Christian Family Fun Day for founder Richard Edwards. Edwards was recently diagnosed with MS, Hanks said, and didn’t think he would be able to do it this year because of his health.
“He said he has been praying and praying about it since October,” Hanks said. “He said God placed me in his path and on his heart, and he asked me to take over.”
Each year the Christian Family Fun Day features a parade, free music, free food, games and preaching. Galax First Assembly of God’s youth band played on the contemporary stage at last year’s Christian Family Fun Day and Hanks gave a message afterward. The church’s youth also walked in the parade, and Hanks saw first-hand how impactful the event has become.
“I’ve seen hundreds of people dedicate to their lives to Christ because of this. We got a question (at our first meeting) of why we do all this stuff for free,” Hanks said. “We do it because it represents the grace of God when everything is free. It is free to receive his grace. We don’t have to ask for it. And that’s why people can walk up to a hot dog stand and get free dogs, for instance. I’ve seen family’s lives touched and lives changed through this event.”
And even though Hanks is Youth Pastor at Galax First Assembly of God, he wants it known that the event is for everybody of all denominations.
“We’re trying to get as many churches involved in it as we can. We’re trying to get off this denominational train we are on,” Hanks said. “We all come in with one body, one mind, one accord, and we need to remember it is a Christian fun day and not a denominational fun day.”
Two more Christian Family Fun Day organizational meetings will be held this month. The next one will be held March 20 at Galax First Assembly of God, followed by another meeting March 25 at Mount Airy Pentecostal Holiness Church on March 25. Both will start at 7 p.m.
Any church or individual who would like to get involved or know more about this year’s Christian Family Fun Day can email Hanks at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (276) 692-5675.
“I just want to see people’s lives touched and changed from the minute they walk into the VFW to the time they leave,” Hanks said. “I just want to see thousands accept Christ.”
Allen Worrell can be reached by calling (276) 728-7311 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN