Standing in Faith: Tommy & Misty Iles

Posted August 2010

By Holly Jo Linzay

Tommy and Misty Iles of Hineston have a story they never wanted to tell, but believe they must so they might help others. Their faith in God is what is getting them through a time of unimaginable grief. On June 21st, the young couple lost their 2-year-old son, Hunter Jack, in a tragic accident.  “God is carrying me through this time. We are standing in faith,” Tommy says when people ask him how they are coping. Both Tommy and Misty say God has blessed them with an inner peace that lets them focus on the beauty of their son’s short life, rather than his death.

Seated at a coffee shop, tears of joy mingle with tears of sorrow in Misty’s blue eyes as she starts sharing how Hunter touched the lives of everyone he met.  “From the very beginning, Hunter was a miracle. Our first son, Trey, who is 4, was born December 22, 2005. But because of a thyroid condition I developed, my doctor said it would be hard or next to impossible to get pregnant again,” Misty relates.  At church, she asked for special prayer to get pregnant again, and Misty says God answered their prayer. “It was the best pregnancy. I was not sick at all. Hunter was born December 11, 2007. He had lots of black curly hair. He was a gorgeous baby.”  With his sweet temperament, Hunter quickly became the “church baby” everyone loved to cuddle.

Misty and Tommy had met during high school at a church youth service. They married March 18, 2005. After working with the children’s ministry, the two became youth leaders for Hicks United Pentecostal Church. For three years, they pastored the “Shama” youth group at the church. The youth group and their church family would often laugh at the antics of Trey and Hunter. “Our two sons were super close. Trey was the protective older brother,” Misty says with a catch in her breath, and adds, “Trey has told us that Hunter is in Heaven with Jesus and that he is laughing.”

Parents expect to outlive their children, but when the unexpected happens, they often search for unexplainable answers. “As a youth leader, I use to tell the kids I will serve God through anything. I would say, ‘When you can’t stand, stand some more.’ When we lost Hunter, it would have been so easy to turn my back on God. But I’m still standing for Jesus. I know God can raise the dead and heal the sick. But God kept him,” Tommy says, adding that his relationship with God is “unshakable.”

After three years of serving as youth pastors at Hicks, Tommy says he felt like God was leading them in a new direction of ministry. The Iles family joined the Sanctuary of Praise church in Pineville. Tommy and Misty recently started helping with the youth service and Misty even helped with the youth music service.  “There was no shadow of doubt that God placed us at Sanctuary of Praise. They didn’t really need us, but we’d need them,” Misty says, adding that her whole family was introduced to their new congregation the Sunday before the accident.

As a young mother, Misty says she “baby-proofed” their home inside and out. She hopes by sharing what happened, it could spread the message of how fragile life is, and that young children should always be closely supervised. This past April, while Tommy was at work and Misty was at the doctor’s with their two sons, their mobile home burned to the ground. “We lost everything in that fire, but it was okay because we still had our family,” Misty recalls. They moved into a rent house in Hineston. There was such an outpouring from their church and community of clothes and items, that Misty said they needed to sort through things and planned to have a garage sale. On June 21st, Misty’s sister, Tara, came over to help her go through the items. Her four children, a 4-year-old niece, and Trey and Hunter were playing outside on the hot day in a wading pool in the fenced backyard. Misty says around 3:00pm, she checked on all the kids. Then for the next 15 minutes, she and her sister were bagging clothes. Sometime during those 15 minutes, Misty’s niece opened her car door to get her shoes out of the car. The car door was left open, and Hunter got into the car presumably to retrieve his blanket. It is not known how the car door was shut. About 3:15pm, Tara was gathering up her four children to leave, when they discovered Hunter was missing.

“I knew something was very wrong. I saw Hunter lying on his back on the front passenger side. I started screaming. I couldn’t open the door,” Misty admits. Her sister opened the door, picked up the toddler and ran to the pool, hoping to cool him off with the water. Misty frantically called 911, and says the first-responders were at her house within three minutes. Paramedics arrived as well as a helicopter medical team to transport the toddler. But due to difficulties with the helicopter’s engine, Hunter was not able to be flown to the hospital and was transported by the ambulance. Misty remembers she kissed Hunter goodbye before riding with her parents to the emergency room.

When Tommy arrived at the hospital he did not know all the details of Hunter’s condition related to the heat exposure in the vehicle. Misty admits it was sheer agony waiting as the doctors and nurses worked to try and resuscitate their child. She was praying with every fiber of her being, Misty says, alternating with pleading. “They worked very hard on Hunter. But at 6:37pm, the doctor told us there was nothing else they could do. I was devastated. I asked myself, ‘How could you have let this happen?’ I prided myself on being a good mom.”

The grace of God has allowed Misty to overcome the self-incriminations and to realize what happened was a tragic accident. “There is a Bible verse, Job 13:15, that says ‘Though He slay me, still I will trust Him.’ We are still worshiping and praising God today. We could not get through the days on our own strength.”

Tommy and Misty never returned to their rental home after the accident. Their family packed up their belongings for them and stored them. The couple and Trey have temporarily moved in with Misty’s parents until they set up their new mobile home on their land in Hineston this month. They never wanted to see the car again that Hunter had climbed into either. A local dealership kindly sent someone to pick up the vehicle and the couple was able to get a previously owned Chevy Tahoe to replace their vehicle.

“God brings beauty from ashes. And God is showing us how Hunter is being used,” Misty says, adding that the toddler’s funeral service touched hundreds.  “The funeral was like a home-going service. God’s presence was so strong in that place. At the service we sang ‘All I Need to do is Worship.’ If my soul could be heard, that’s what it would sound like. At the funeral, we stood and started praising God,” Misty recalls with heart-wrenching emotion.

At the service, Misty says she held Hunter wrapped in his blanket, and asked God for strength. “God is carrying us through this. Hunter was ours, but he was God’s first. God is our rock. Our relationship with God – that’s untouchable. I always told my mom that Hunter was a little angel who had wandered away from Heaven. But they found him, and took him home.”

Comments (13)

 

  1. Renea Alley says:

    I have been blessed to know this couple only a short time and I, too, have lost a children when she was 4 yrs old! Only GOD can bring a couple through this unscaved! This family is an awesome example of a Godly family! They are blessed beyond measure to have such an unconditional love…God is using them for His kingdom! Thanks for doing this story and sharing with others!! God Bless!!

  2. I think you are amazing. I can see it now all od the people line up at heavens door to meet the little angel by the name of Hunter. They will run to meet him and tell him of his amazing parents that have lead them to chirst. Your faith is wonderful and I hurt for your loss but the love that your have for our Lord makes me happy. I feel what I already knew but with your help reminded me and anyone that reads this. ” With God all thing are possible.”

  3. Peggy Wells (Aunt Peggy) says:

    I am so proud of Tommy and Misty. They have shown what faith and dependance on God really is. In Hebrews it lists what many did “by faith”….their names could be added to that list. God Bless them and Trey. They are might warriors of God.

  4. Nikki says:

    I love you misty and I will continue to pray!!!!!

  5. Linda skipper says:

    I do know what you are trying to convey in this blog. I too tragicly lost my son in a car accident. He was 16 and he was a blessing to have known for the short period of time God let us have him. The song that I listen to is by MercyMe called homesick. It sages ” how could circumstances possibly change who I forever am in you”. God has given me and my husband peace beyond understanding. People don’t understand it but it is a living testamony to so many. If God can be glorified through these tragedys it is well. We can rest in knowing that we will see them again.

  6. Brandi saizan says:

    This story has touched my heart. God is always on the thrown! And god said he will never give us what we cant handle. Sometime i sit and think god how much can i take? But i releize that he will always help us through it no matter what..

  7. anita snell says:

    your faith is great it renews my faith to know that god can affect your lives to this degree. children are gifts from god and we are so blessed to have them for as long as god will allow. I admire your strenght and your stand of faith… may God continue to bless and keep you!

  8. Amy says:

    What a great family. I have only met the family once but I work with Misty’s sister Sabri. My heart goes out to them but I know they have such a strong faith in God that they will taken care. Prayers for strength still going up for this precious family in thier sad time! Just know we can do all things through Christ who stengthens us!

  9. Kristy Phillips says:

    Your faith and determination to keep moving forward is awesome!!!! Love you Misty!

  10. Dora Palmer says:

    I don’t know if I would have had the strength that they have had, but THIS is one thing that I do know and that God’s strength is perfect when our strenth is gone, and Misty and her family is living this out and doing an outstanding job of how if we hold on to God and not lean unto our own understanding, then there is a peace and assurance that it will be okay.

    I lov eyou MIsty and I am so very proud of your dedication towards the work of God and to your family,

    Thank all of you for being strong and teaching us that with GOD we can !

  11. LORRAINE PELT says:

    I’ve known Tommy for many years, my brother Jessie McCullough, was a good friend of his—when I found out via-facebook what was happening all I could do was plead with God to have His Will for you both. My baby was born Dec. 3, 2007. I don’t know what I would do if I lost him—My prayer is that God bless you both, for your service, devotion, and love and may He bless you with a family that you can teach God’s love to, and praise Him for all the honor and glory!!! continued prayers to you both…………

  12. Amie Glasgow says:

    Thank you for doing this story!

  13. Edie James says:

    Bro. Tommy and Sis. Misty,
    Ya’ll are awesome. I love ya’ll unconditionally. God is doing a awesome work in your lives. You have inspired me a great deal on your faith in God. You have a ministry to those who have lost loved ones and God is using this also. You do a fabulous job with Young People and surely are missed. God needed ya’ll else where.
    We love Ya’ll and our prayers are with U both and my man Trey.