Charlotte Fauss pulled her 1962 Chevrolet Impala from the garage onto the steep driveway, set the emergency brake, and stepped out of the car to close the garage door. Her two sons, Jody, 3, and Milton, 2, sat in the front seat.
On this spring 1963 evening, Charlotte, then 23, hurried to get to a Wednesday church service at Southside Assembly of God in Tyler, Texas, where her father-in-law, M.L. Fauss, pastored. Charlotte’s husband, Joe — the owner of four grocery stores and three restaurants — had to work that evening.
When his mother left the car, Jody became concerned about the blinking and clicking lights that came on with the emergency brake engaged. He had seen his parents stop the flashing and noise before by pulling the brake lever. Jody crawled under the steering column and did what he had seen his parents do.
The automobile began rolling down the incline of the driveway. In an era of no child car seat restraints — let alone seat belts laws — Jody tumbled onto the pavement with the driver door still open as the car forcefully hit the curb on the opposite side of the street.
Charlotte turned around after closing the door and watched helplessly as the car then immediately rolled over her son’s head, chest, and legs. The tire tread went over the top of the boy’s face.
A neighbor called an ambulance, after hearing Charlotte’s screams as she rushed to reach Jody. Charlotte began praying as she gazed into the dazed stare of her son. She wanted to pick Jody up in her arms, but instead gently rubbed his little body to comfort him. Charlotte knew the medical experts’ admonition not to move an injured person.
The ambulance arrived quickly, whisking Jody to Medical Center Hospital in Tyler.
M.L., sensing something wrong in his spirit, urged the flock at the church to gather at the altar to pray at the start of the service. Joe received a phone call at the shop informing him of the shocking news. Joe’s father had just buried another toddler from the congregation who had been run over by a vehicle.
Joe felt too shaken to drive and called for a police officer to take him to the hospital. While he waited, the successful businessman made a vow: if the Lord would spare his son’s life, Joe would serve Him the rest of his life in whatever capacity God determined.
“I prayed all the way to the hospital,” Charlotte says. “I had a very strong faith that God was going to take care of Jody.”
Doctors initially didn’t share such confidence. Although X-rays revealed Jody incredibly suffered no broken bones, physicians doubted whether he would survive the night. If the boy did live, they felt certain he would be brain damaged and never walk again.
The next morning, Joe had to see to his business ventures. But then he received a phone call from Charlotte, who put a coherent and happy Jody on the line. The boy miraculously made a swift and full recovery.
Jody, now 59 and the oldest of four Fauss sons, relates the story on occasion. He has been children’s pastor of Church of Living Hope in Tyler as well as North Texas District Royal Rangers outreach director for three decades. He doesn’t reveal the identity of the boy until the end of the testimony, when he pulls out the shirt he wore that night. Emergency personnel cut the shirt off his body.
“I tell the children about how God is our healer and is active in our lives today,” says Jody. He and his wife, Anne, have three daughters and a son.
Joe kept his promise to the Lord. Soon after the traumatic event, he exchanged the financial security of his business enterprises for the uncertainty of ministry. He operated a Teen Challenge center in Tyler for seven years, then sensed a calling to care for prisoners after their release.
In 1977, Joe, Charlotte, and their sons moved from their four-bedroom brick dream home into a mobile home in nearby Lindale to start Calvary Commission. Joe, a U.S. Missions chaplain, started Calvary Commission to provide a residential discipleship program that enables parolees to achieve their quest to stay out of prison. More than 2,800 students, mostly former prisoners, have graduated from Calvary Commission to become living testimonies of redeemed lives.
Jody has worked at Calvary Commission since the age of 20 and he now is campus director, overseeing ministry operations, the school, training, and outreaches. Anne, his wife of 34 years, is dean of students.
Photo: Jody and Charlotte Fauss still keep the shirt as a reminder of the miracle from 56 years ago.
© 2020 by The General Council of the Assemblies of God
1445 N Boonville Ave Springfield, MO 65802.
All rights reserved.