ST. AUGUSTINE (FBW)—Asa Greear, director of missions of St. Johns River Baptist Association, and his wife, Lydia, are daily cheering on their son Thaddeus’ recovery from a severe brain injury. They say they have “prayed in stages” through the months since his accident June 29.
“At first we were praying just that he would live, and then we were thankful that his injuries were not worse. We were overjoyed when he opened his eyes, and now we’re thankful for his progress in rehab,” Greear said.
Thaddeus Greear, a blues guitarist and vocalist well-known in the Lexington, Ky., area, was crossing a street around 11:30 p.m. after playing in a benefit concert when a car hit him at 55 mph. His guitar and his grandfather’s fedora absorbed some of the impact, but Thaddeus suffered a severe head injury and a broken leg.
His parents were 10 days into a month-long mission trip among Muslims in France with Anastasia Baptist Church in St. Augustine when they learned of the accident. Their daughter Jessica Stotler had rushed to her brother’s side from her home in Campbellsville, Ky. One of Thaddeus’ children, 11-year-old Alton, was with the Greears in France, and his daughter, Holton, 12, was in Lexington.
When Asa and Lydia arrived at University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington July 1 they found their son in a coma and on life support. Ten days later he opened his eyes slightly after small steps of making strumming motions when a guitar was placed in his hands and gestured upon hearing a hospital worker sing a familiar song from his childhood in West Africa where his parents were missionaries.
The Greears soon found that recovery from a brain injury is not as it is portrayed in the movies.
“People think that when somebody who has a brain injury opens their eyes, their recovery is over, but from there they have months and months of recovery,” Lydia Greear explained.
Four weeks after the accident Thaddeus began speaking—in French, the language of his childhood. Whatever the language, his parents call his speaking “a great victory, an answer to prayer.” Two days later he was moved to Cardinal Rehabilitation Hospital to continue his recovery, which may take 12-18 months, according to Lydia Greear.
At the time of this writing, Thaddeus was yet unable to walk on his damaged leg, and his level of alertness changes daily. Some days he understands where he is, and on other days he is confused, according to his father. Doctors are experimenting with medications.
The Greears are thankful that their son seems to have returned to the faith of his childhood. His daily routine includes prayer and Bible reading and he talks about the Lord with those around him. For years Thaddeus led “a musician’s lifestyle” that included alcohol and drugs, and for years he professed a dislike for church, Greear said. However, both his children made professions of faith at Vacation Bible School and youth camp at St. Augustine churches.
Thaddeus had started attending Forks of Elkhorn Baptist Church in Lexington not long before his accident.
“This church began to minister to him, and they didn’t flinch when he would come to church after singing in bars the night before,” Greear said. “He felt love like he hadn’t had in a long time.”
Thaddeus had expressed an interest in being a part of the church’s praise team, but he was told he had to first change his life. Thaddeus recently left his girlfriend of four years, his father said. Members of the church, along with Pastor Todd Lester, are faithful visitors in rehab.
“Thad has told the pastor, ‘I used to go to church and the preacher preached like it was just to me.’ He doesn’t realize yet that he’s talking to that preacher,” Greear said of his son.
Thaddeus’ fellow musicians in Lexington recently organized a benefit concert for him. They titled the event the “Heart of Gold” to honor Thaddeus’ “caring and loving nature,” Lydia Greear said.
At least one of Thaddeus’ weary parents has been with their son every day since July 1. Gardenside Baptist Church in Lexington has provided an apartment for the Greears, for which they are grateful. They also are thankful for the support of St. Johns River association. With one month’s time-off already approved for his mission in France, Greear spent most of it in Kentucky.
“That was such a God-send. The support from our pastors and churches has been incredible to see. I know it comes from trust. We understand what work needs to be done, and we can do that and take care of family responsibilities, too,” he said.
They are most thankful for the prayers for their son—from friends in locations from Florida to Malaysia, West Africa to Washington State, from Maine to France, and from churches in Kentucky.
“We are thankful that people are keeping up their prayers. I know people usually get tired of praying, but we continue to hear of people praying for him,” Greear said.
The Greears ask that fellow Christians pray now that Thaddeus will be able to move to Florida soon.
“We don’t know how far he will go, but we are asking God to restore him. As God allows and works in him, he is coming back little by little,” Greear said.
“God is in the middle of this,” Lydia Greear said. “We are watching God give him back his life—a new and different life.”
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