“Joel”, a biography written by Joel Sonnerberg and Greg Lewis, will be reviewed at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 23 in the fellowship hall of First Baptist Church, 6501 Hazel St.
The review will be presented by Lisa Grigg, a native of Camden. Grigg has been a resident of Pine Bluff since 1997. She is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University with a major in music and is an active member of First Baptist Church, where she teaches a Sunday School Class and sings in the sanctuary choir.
She is a member of Master Singers, the White Hall Garden Club, the Military Officers Association Auxiliary and the Therapy Dogs International Auxiliary. She has been a medical transcriptionist for Dr. John Dedman since 2010. She has served as the co-facilitator for the Jefferson County Grief and Comfort support group since 2011.
Sonnerberg has learned more critical lessons, faced more challenges, overcome more hardships, developed a deeper faith, and influenced more individuals than people do in a lifetime. He is a national speaker and has made guest appearances on television sites since the age of 5. He earned numerous honors, including personal commendations from governors and the president of the United States.
Sonnerberg was born in 1977 in White Plains, N.Y., to Michael and Janet Sonnerberg. On Sept. 15, 1979, while his family waited in a toll booth line, a 400ton tractor trailer was bearing down toward the booths. The driver of the 18-wheeler was not going to be able to stop before barreling directly into the line of cars, hitting the last car in line and splattering them. Cars, metal, and glass flew everywhere. When the crashing stopped, the screaming began and the sound of Sonnerberg’s mother’s voice was unforgettable as she screamed, “My Baby’s trapped.” The gas tank of the car ignited, holding 22-month-old Sonnerberg, still trapped in his safety seat. The car was a ball of flames when a stranger reached into the inferno, grabbed Sonnerberg and the car seat, pulling them free. Someone poured water on the child who was only protected by his diaper. Joel was burned over 85 percent of his body and the seat’s plastic was fused to his skin. His little structure was burned beyond description. He lost his ears, his left hand, and the fingers on his right hand.
Doctors in Boston said they had never seen anyone survive an injury so severe to the skull. But Sonnerberg did survive. Over the years, Sonnerberg grew up in hospitals. He underwent surgery more than 40 times in four years. He was excellent at school and sports. He was elected president of his sophomore class at Taylor University in Indiana and became an accomplished speaker. He graduated from Taylor University as well as the Columbia International University’s seminary program. He is a young man that God has transformed from a lifeless lump of coal into a diamond of rare beauty.
The public is invited to attend and door prizes and refreshments will be furnished.