Brewer still helping others after accident

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On a typical Tuesday afternoon yesterday, Joe Brewer talked onthe telephone with a Wisconsin pastor about a mission trip to builda new sanctuary for Countryside Christian Church.

Brewer, the founder, president and chief executive officer ofthe Church Building Ministries, was organizing the trip to Oshkosh,Wis., for within the next year. But he will be unable to attend inperson.

Brewer is paralyzed from the neck down following a freakaccident last year while working with the organization to rebuildthe ravaged Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina, which struckMississippi and Louisiana two years ago today.

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The missionary and former owner of Ole Brook Tire from 1966 to1994 was on the coast coordinating efforts for Church BuildingMinistries from a trailer home and church in Gulfport when theaccident occurred. He and his wife Sudie had moved to the coast aweek after the storm to help rebuild homes and lives.

“We were taking applications for work to be done, buyingmaterials,” he said. “Then as teams came in we would find out whattheir qualifications were and assign them where they wereneeded.”

During a break, Brewer was exercising at a fitness center on arowing machine when the cable on the machine broke.

“When it did, it flipped me on my back and broke my neck andfour or five vertebrae in my back,” he said.

The accident paralyzed him from the neck down.

It is a heavy price to pay for helping others, but he has noregrets.

“I’m not where I’d like to be, but I’m sure I’m where God wantsme to be so, yes, I’m satisfied,” Brewer said. “I believe therewill come a time when I’m walking again.”

Recovery has been slow, but steady since the September 2006accident, Brewer said. He attends physical and occupational therapythree times a week.

“I’ve got quite a bit of movement back now,” Brewer said. “Istill have a long way, but I’m a lot better than I was.

“I have more movement in my upper body than in my lower body,”he continued. “I know I’m improving. I can feel things in my bodythat I haven’t felt in a long time.”

Brewer said he spends most of his time in bed or a poweredwheelchair. His upper body movement allows him to manipulate thewheelchair’s controls to provide some mobility, but he still cannotuse a television remote control device, telephone or even eatwithout assistance.

“I have to depend on Sudie,” he said. “She is my caretaker, anda good one.”

With his family’s help, Brewer is able to continue to coordinatethe activities of the ministry and said it is stronger than ever. Ateam returned earlier this week from upstate New York, he said, andwas only one of five mission trips the organization has sponsoredalready this year.

Those he has helped through the ministry have not forgotten himeither and continue to inspire him, Sudie Brewer said.

“We’ve just been overwhelmed by the outpouring of concern andprayer by not only the people here but also across the county thatwe’ve never even met that we continue to get,” she said.

Brewer gushes optimism for a full recovery. But in the meantimethe telephone is ringing and he has missions to organize.