Chip Mixon was helping his son build a house, lost his balance, and tumbled off of a scaffold. The fall from a height of more than 10 feet fractured a vertebra in his spine, leaving his legs paralyzed.
On that Saturday, Aug. 6, and every day since, Mixon, who leads the praise team at First Baptist Church, Varnville, has come to know the assurance of Isaiah 26:3 — “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”
Mixon underwent surgery at a Savannah hospital to stabilize his spine by inserting two rods. Before he went into surgery, he told the surgical team, “You don’t know how many people are praying for your hands to be guided, and praying for you to make the right decisions.”
Mixon has been part of the praise team for 15 years, a deacon, and also teaches a Sunday school class at Varnville First, and he has felt the prayers of fellow members and a large network of friends. “I just had a peace and comfort from the Holy Spirit that everything was going to be fine,” he said.
The surgery went well, and on Aug. 15, he was transferred to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, which specializes in medical treatment and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury. On Oct. 7, he was discharged, but he stayed at an apartment on the complex and was allowed to come home on weekends.
The very first Sunday after being discharged, Oct. 9, Mixon was back at Varnville First and rejoined its praise team. A banner draped above the platform welcomed him home, and church members were moved by his testimony, after which he sang, “The Anchor Holds.”
“This is temporary; I’m going to get out of this [wheelchair],” Mixon said he told his doctors and nurses — and anyone else who would listen. “I’m still in a wheelchair now, but my legs are waking up and I’m making progress,” he said.
But what Mixon likes to share the most is what the Lord has done for him. “He has kept fear from me,” he said. “I have not had any fear during this whole time — and that goes back to Aug. 6, the date I had my injury, and my legs weren’t working,” he said. “I have not had any fear that I won’t walk again.”
He attributes his lack of fear to Jesus’ promise to send the Comforter. “The Holy Spirit has been with me, and He’s given me peace, and He’s given me comfort,” Mixon said. “He’s given me assurance that everything’s going to be all right.”
And, in spite of it all, Mixon still considers himself blessed.
“No, I didn’t want to be leading the praise team from a wheelchair,” he said. “But you know what? Right now, that’s the way it is, and I’m not going to let this wheelchair hinder me from doing my best in song to bring glory to the Lord.
“So, as long as it takes — if I’m in a wheelchair another few weeks or another few months — we’re going to keep on praising the Lord and giving Him the glory,” he added.
Pastor Tommy Kelly hopes Mixon’s testimony will be an inspiration and encouragement to others as they are going through crises. “Chip’s faith is what has brought him through this crisis,” Kelly noted. “And even though he’s not physically walking yet, he can walk alongside other people ‘spiritually’ as they are going through their own crises.
“He hasn’t given up the possibility he will walk again,” Kelly added. “But he has an attitude that if God doesn’t allow it to happen, there’s a reason — and he has come back (with a faith that is) stronger than ever.”
Mixon and his wife, Donna, are especially appreciative of the incredible support they have felt from their church family and friends. The church’s Helping Hands Committee even built a ramp at his house.
“The nurses couldn’t believe the cards; we have just received hundreds of cards,” Donna said.
“The many cards, texts, calls, and prayers — it’s just been unbelievable,” Mixon said. “That first service was so heartwarming. It was such a very large welcome.”
Mixon is still doing what he loves, leading music, going fishing at Santee, and hunting, Pastor Kelly noted. “He hasn’t given up. And, I feel like he will walk again someday, and it will be a testimony to what God can do,” he added.
“Prayers are being answered,” Mixon affirmed. “My healing is underway,” he said, adding that he has seen small gains weekly in moving his ankles and feet, and, more recently, has gained the ability to pedal a stationary bike.
“I still have a long way to go to be able to walk, but I’ve come a long way,” he said. “Praise God!”