You may recall reading a column I wrote a few years ago about Shelly and Wes Sconce, two of the best human beings you’ll ever meet. I’ve known Wes since our freshman year at Mizzou, way back in 1990. Wes was the one guy in our dorm who could never be persuaded to join me and my rowdier friends in our various acts of stupidity. He always handled our foolishness in such a good-natured way, never judging us and always showing us more kindness and patience than we deserved. These days he is a manager at the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute, where he is respected and loved by everyone who knows him.

      Travis Naughton

Shelly, Wes’s high school sweetheart turned wife, is just as kind and thoughtful as her husband. In addition to being a beloved school teacher at South Callaway High School, she is also known for performing random acts of kindness, including the time she drove three and a half hours from her home in Holts Summit to St. Joseph, Missouri, to give a complete stranger, (a high school girl who was celebrating being chemotherapy-free for six months), a dress for prom—absolutely free.

Yes, you would have a very hard time finding two finer people anywhere in the world. This fact makes it all the more difficult for me to make sense of the tragedy that has recently befallen the Sconce family. During Superbowl Sunday’s surprise winter storm, Shelly and Wes’s 19-year-old son Braeden was involved in a terrible car accident outside of Lebanon, Missouri.

Fortunately for Braeden, the first vehicle that stopped at the scene of the crash was occupied by an off-duty firefighter and a nurse. They were able to extricate the young man from his burning vehicle and give him medical assistance until he could be air-lifted to a hospital in St. Louis. Unfortunately, Braeden suffered a traumatic brain injury and other internal injuries that have left him fighting for his life.

The unpredictable winter weather that Braeden got caught up in returned to our area the very next weekend, leaving Mid-Missouri covered in a thin but treacherous sheet of ice. Out of an abundance of caution, and perhaps with Braeden’s accident in mind, school officials at rural districts including South Callaway, New Bloomfield, and Southern Boone cancelled school on Monday the 12th.

SoBoCo superintendent Chris Felmlee bears the responsibility of keeping roughly 2,000 students, teachers, bus drivers, cooks, custodians, and other district personnel safe. Knowing that there are many narrow, hilly, and twisting roads throughout our area, I thought it was a smart call to take advantage of one of the district’s six snow days rather than taking a chance on anyone getting hurt. Others, however, called the decision “ridiculous.”

Ask Shelly and Wes Sconce if it was ridiculous.

When concerned friends and loved ones ask what they can do to help, Shelly and Wes simply reply: “Pray.” A Facebook page called “Pray For Braeden” where well-wishers can post messages of love and hope—and of course prayers—was created. The page has amassed close to 3,000 followers in just two weeks; a testament to what the Sconces, including all three of their kids, mean to so many people.

Braeden is a perfect reflection of his parents. Kind, warm, generous, and deeply religious, he embodies the message tattooed on his arm: “Galatians 6:9”. This verse from the Bible reads, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” I can assure you that a Sconce would never grow weary of doing good, nor would they ever give up. Therefore, we can only conclude that at the proper time, Braeden will indeed reap a harvest.

As a minister who caters to folks of varying religious backgrounds, I am asked from time to time, (usually at weddings), to pray on behalf of people who may not necessarily share the same religious beliefs as me. I see no conflict in these requests, as I am here to serve everyone to the best of my ability, and I am always happy to oblige. Yes, even Travis Naughton, a secular humanist, will pray on occasion. This is one such occasion.

“Heavenly Father, the members of the Sconce family, your humble servants, are hurting right now. They ask that you heal their precious Braeden—himself a faithful follower of Christ with many good deeds left to do on this Earth—from the injuries he sustained in a terrible accident. Shelly, Wes, Caleb, Mackenzie, and thousands of other people whose lives Braeden has already touched in the nineteen short years he has lived by your Grace pray that you will bless him with your Divine touch so that he may return to us and bring us joy once again. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.”