Having just returned from a major city where we were dependent on Google Maps and large highway signs to get us to our destinations, travelers can certainly recognize how valuable those big green signs are.
Those large signs over the roadways are held up by mammoth structures, and one came into play on a Tulsa interstate recently as a man climbed onto it over the highway, apparently to jump and take his own life. In a stunning piece of video from NewsChannel 8, there was footage of the man on the sign, as well as a brief interview with bystanders, one of whom decided to deliver a message.
That bystander, Rick Jewell, said, “I stayed over here and prayed for 15 minutes when I first got here, and then my son says, ‘Look over there Dad, there’s a cross right behind him…’” That’s a reference to a large cross that is lit up for the holidays.
Outside of the view of the camera, Rick allowed his prayer to motivate what happened next: he approached the man and started calling to him on the sign. The news report quoted him as saying:
“I just started talking to him and I told him there was more to life than what he was doing and that God loved him.
Rick continued, “He looked at me and I told him to throw me his cigarettes, he threw me those, I said throw me that rope, he threw me that rope, and I said now get down from there. I said they’re going to help you. He headed down. Simple. It’s crazy. But I also told you what I did for 15 minutes over there before you showed up, I was praying. So, that had a lot to do with it, I’m sure…”
Witness Trei Jackson confirmed it, saying that Jewell “…told him that Jesus loves you basically…to come down, just ask for help. He came down…” That news story was referenced by ChristianHeadlines.com, which reported:
According to News On 6, Tulsa Police said that the department is relieved that the man climbed down from the sign on his own, unhurt after nearly spending seven hours. The man reportedly climbed up to the sign at around 9 am and climbed down at approximately 4 pm.
Tulsa Police Officer Andre Baul explained that the man had prior contact with negotiators in a separate incident and noted that he was in distress because of ongoing legal issues in his life.
“He was scared about the future, about what he was going to be facing once he came down,” Baul said.
NewsChannel 8 stated:
A confluence of events; a man in distress, a well-placed cross, an inspired do-gooder intervening for a troubled soul, and a final message to the masses for action.
Rick said, according to the outlet, “I think as a state, as a whole, we need to find something for mental illness for people and have more resources…”
God bless Rick Jewell – it’s incredible how God used him to bless a man in need! He can inspire all of us to make sure that when we see others in trouble that we pray, and then, as God leads, respond by acting according to His direction. The Holy Spirit will give us the boldness to speak out and do the right thing.
We can be reminded that when people are at the “end of their rope,” that Jesus is our rescuer. When we feel hopeless, He is our source of hope. When life is overwhelming, He steps into our brokenness and brings healing. He loved us so much that He was willing to die for us so that we can experience that unfailing, unconditional love.
The Tulsa incident occurred near a giant cross that is familiar to area residents. We realize that the cross is more than a symbol. As we appropriate what Jesus did for us on that cross, giving His life for ours, we can experience His peace in our lives: peace with God and peace with ourselves, peace to calm the turmoil within brought about by the circumstances of life.
Christ has come to rescue us from the power of sin and death, and we have been empowered to communicate that powerful message. We can see that 2nd Corinthians 3:5-6 (NKJV) reminds us: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” When we surrender our lives to be used by God, we can possess a sense of expectancy; He has rescued us and we may have a chance to rescue someone else.