Clarksville, TN – With their wilderness adventure coming to a close, Clarksville businessmen Clay Powers and Thom Spigner, were getting ready to head home. The nine day trip into the Alaskan wilderness had provided amazing thrills, great fishing and wonderful fellowship.
Their tour guide, Dr. Jimmy Sites, of Spiritual Outdoor Adventures, said this trip brought together an incredible group of men who bonded immediately. “You could tell the moment they met, that not only were they experienced outdoorsmen, but men of God, who were excited about letting the spirit work in their lives at every opportunity.”
Now the group was headed back to their base camp to start planning their return home. Once they arrived at Alaska Adventures, there was still time to do some fishing.
After all, the sun never sets in Alaska.
Clay and Thom prepared to get into their boat and Thom noticed that Clay had one of his travel bags. He asked, “is that your dirty clothes?”
Powers said, “Yes.”
“Why are you bringing all of that?” asked Thom.
Powers replied, “I’m not getting caught out here again without something to keep warm if I need it.”
Spigner shrugged and chuckled at his friend and said, “well, alrighty then.”
You’ll remember that on their first day in Alaska, the two men got caught without some rain gear that they needed.
The group then ventured 90 minutes up river to fish and all of the boats were having great success, except Clay and Thom. Their fishing guide then asked Spigner to go forward and lift the anchor so he could move the boat to a different spot. As Thom was lifting the anchor, the boat lunged and Spigner fell overboard into the freezing Alaskan water, and disappeared under the boat.
The swift river current pulled him under the boat and when he surfaced, he was now at the rear of the boat, desperately trying to keep the current from sweeping him away. As the guide reached for him, Powers instinctively rushed to the back of the boat to help rescue his friend. It was then that the guide shouted for Powers to return to the front of the boat to keep it from capsizing. Once they had pulled Spigner back into the boat, he was visibly shaken, but he was alive.
But now there was another problem. He was soaking wet and it was bitterly cold.
Enter Clay’s bag of dirty clothes!
Who’s laughing now?
Once Spigner was able to change into something dry, (and possibly dirty) they had a laugh, but continued to fish. It wouldn’t sink in until later what had ACTUALLY just happened.
That night, as the men were preparing for dinner, Powers observed one of the men in the group who seemed to be very anxious about their trip home. The man and his son had been with the group all week.
Clay asked him, “well you’re saved aren’t you.” The man answered, “no, and neither is my son.”
Clay then tried to calm the man with his own personal testimony and assured him that “God’s got this, everything will be fine.”
After dinner, Dr. Sites led the men in a bible based discussion. Something they had done most of the week.
Several of the men had already commented that they felt a dark cloud hanging over the group. It was something that both Clay and Thom felt as well. Powers said, “it just didn’t feel right, and several of us felt it.”
Dr. Sites agreed. “Several of the men, myself included, felt an evil presence in the room that night.”
He went on to share, “I believe there’s a God and there’s a Devil.” “I believe there’s a Heaven and a Hell” he said. “I just felt that there was a dark cloud hanging over this group that night.”
As the men were discussing the night’s lesson, Spigner, who had just cheated death that afternoon, stood up and shared his personal testimony. He assured the men that even through what had happened, he was at peace, because God assures him that his earthly life is temporary and the real reward was coming. To not worry and be anxious.
Spigner concluded with, “I just want these men to know Jesus.”
As Thom finished, something powerful happened. The man who previously had been nervous about the trip home, and confessed that he wasn’t saved, stood up and gave his life to Jesus.
His son came forward as well.
So, the next morning as the group made their way to the plane, Dr. Sites decided that Thom and the young man, would be the first to depart. These small bush planes can only take two passengers, and Sites said “I never allow family members on the same plane.”
With the rest of the group back at the cabin, where they could watch the plane take off, they waited and watched. It had rained the night before, so the runway was muddy and conditions were NOT ideal, but they were approved to fly.
“I’ve watched dozens of these planes take off” said Sites. “I can tell by the sound of the engine when they lift off and become airborne.”
The plane’s engine roared, and started down the muddy runway. As it blew past the cabin and disappeared behind the trees, there came a loud “POP.” Then there was total silence.
THE PLANE HAD CRASHED!
Dr. Sites remembers, “It was the most horrific sound I’ve ever heard.”
The remaining members of the group bolted from the cabin and began running towards the plane. Running as fast as they could through the trees and the brush, and all they could think about was what they would find. What would they see when they cleared the trees?
They all feared the worst.
Sites remembers, “I kept saying, no, please God, no!” “Running through those trees I kept thinking, how was I going to call the wives of these men and explain what happened?” “What was I going to do? I’m responsible for them being here!”
“It was the sickest feeling I’ve ever had” Jimmy said.
When the men cleared the trees, the plane was now in sight and the first thing they noticed was that there was no fire and the plane had NOT flipped over.
Then suddenly, they saw Thom Spigner exiting the plane and shouting, “EVERYBODY’S OK., WE’RE OK!”
And it was at that moment, the Magnificent Seven fell to their knees and prayed. That dark cloud, that “evil presence” they had all felt the night before, was gone. They all agreed that a miracle had truly unfolded before them. The Devil had been defeated. The victory belonged to God.
“My legs just gave out when I saw the men getting out of the plane, and I fell face first to the ground completely overwhelmed with emotion” said Sites. “I cried like I’ve never cried before.”
The father hugged his son. There were tears. It was a powerful moment for this group of men who had shared so much during this amazing trip.
There’s been a lot of time to reflect on that week. This adventure. This miracle they witnessed.
I wanted to know what the wives thought when they heard what had happened.
Shawna Spigner, Thom’s wife, told me, “when Thom called, he was on a satellite phone and said, “there’s been a plane crash but everybody’s ok,” then the phone went silent” she said. “I wasn’t too concerned, because I trust Thom enough to get right to the facts, and not sugarcoat anything.” “If he said everybody’s ok, then everybody was ok.” “I’m not known to worry, and I stand on my faith, and I knew that God was in control.”
Amanda Powers told me, “Shawna and I were together when we got the call, and it was pretty scary for a while. We tried to call them back, but to no avail” she said. “I just prayed about it and trusted that everything was going to be alright.”
It was eight hours before they would hear their husbands voice again.
Dr. Jimmy Sites summed up the week this way. “I used this experience in a speaking engagement where I drew from the first chapter of Peter about poking the lion.” “If you honor God with your life, you will have poked the lion, and the Magnificent Seven definitely poked the lion on that trip.”
To watch this episode of Spiritual Outdoor Adventure, go here.
To learn more about Dr. Jimmy Sites and his ministry, go here.
I want to personally thank Clay Powers and Thom Spigner for allowing me to tell this story. I appreciate the trust they have in me to share this remarkable event in their lives. It’s been a blessing.