STORY- Troup deputy celebrates 33 years of survival after shooting

Joy Burnham

LAGRANGE, GEORGIA: A lesson that Joy Burnham, age 60, would want to teach the rest of us is, “To pause before you speak or give an answer.”

A veteran of the Troup County Sheriff’s Office(TCSO), Joy stated her reason was “So that you do not responded out of your emotions … which is hardly ever good.”

Joy’s current role at the TCSO includes a variety of duties. “I pay bills and make purchase orders, I answer the phone and help people with inmates concerns, law issues, neighbor issues and all type of relationship issues.”

She said, “I also maintain several software programs, and I handle multiple checking accounts.”

“I am also responsible for the PBX (telephone system,” Joy added. “The best part of my job is when I can help a person that is in distress and offer them something that reassures them that there is ‘hope’ – whether they are in jail or out of jail.”

She added her definition of hope. Which Joy said is the “belief that all things will work out for my good. My favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11. ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declared the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

“Hope and a future, some days I say that several times each day, hope and a future,” Joy remarked. “Hope in God because He knows you, loves you, wrote all your days in a book – He knows the plans that He has for you. Perfect plans that bring you completeness, joy, peace and hope.”

She concluded the rest of description of a career at the TCSO. “Being a part of a sheriff’s office is not always about law breakers. We have over 158 employees that we take care of as well, and are very involved in community needs too … providing manpower and donations.”

In her free time, Joy likes to make things – hubcap flowers, license plate signs, walking sticks and JoyBots® – shelf robots out of old stuff.

Joy’s life and perspective changed a bit after an episode that almost took her life. It has helped her helping other. “In 1987, I was shot while making an arrest.  I was out of work for four years and had multiple surgeries.Those four years taught me about some of the darkness that people can go through,” she told The Murphy Gazette on Friday, October 18, 2019.

“At first, I hid those years away in my subconscious in a big trunk with padlocks around it,” she said, “but after God shone His light on it, the things I hid away had healing power, not just for me but for many people.”

Joy was doing what she thought was a routine traffic stop during patrol on Interstate 85, as a deputy in LaGrange during that night. She saw a reckless driver taking the roadway at 95 miles per hour. Joy pulled the car over, and got the driver’s license. She was just about to radio in for a license check when the man admitted it was suspended. In retelling her story for the media, Joy said she knew then it was about to change.

There was going to be an arrest. The man got out of his car, and as Joy was conducting a search, he jumped her. It was during a physical altercation that the driver grabbed at her gun belt, and pulled on her holster.

In an interview with The Christian Broadcasting Network, Joy said. “I heard an explosion. I don’t recall even feeling it. I heard the explosion and then I felt myself being thrown through the air. I looked up and saw him walking towards me with a gun and then I realized that I had been shot. On the day that this happened, I really had so much planned for my life and what I was going to do, and I was really excited about things.”

As she lay on the interstate after the man shot her with her own .357-Magnum, Joy, somehow exhibited some inner strength. She kicked the man, and he stumbled and fell. He got up and stood over her, threatening to shoot her. Joy braced for it.

During this time, Joy started praying a very desperate prayer asking God to get the man to leave.

When that happened, Joy noticed her portable radio was on the roadway near her. She was able to call for help. TCSO deputies arrived and rushed her to the hospital. No one expected her to keep the arm due to the injuries and the blood. She had about 33 surgeries to save her arm.

Prayers went up all over the world for Joy. As to why the gunman left, and didn’t make good on his threats to kill her, he had dropped the gun, and it hit the pavement and jammed the chamber so the trigger didn’t work.

According to Joy, God jammed that chamber. Her attacker went to jail and served 20 years.

Beyond her life as a wife and a survivor of being shot and a TSCO employee, Joy is a writer. “When I was a child I wanted to be a writer. I started as a Sunday School Teacher and taught for many years and many different classes and people.

She continued, “My first book was actually a bible study that I taught for many years called, The Blood of Jesus (The Seven Ways Jesus Shed His Blood for You).’ Crossbooks, a division of LifeWay printed it, but it is now out of print.”

“My second book was written after a women’s bible study at CedarCrest Church in LaGrange – where the women were asked to write down any question that they would ask God; if they could.”

Joy continued, “Those questions and the events following me getting shot in 1987 formed book number two – ‘Life’s Lessons for Wisdom and Peace.’ This is available in LaGrange at Good Seed Bookstore, Three Points Paint on Hill Street, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.”

One of Joy’s wishes for people to do in their lifetime is that they “form a relationship with God, our Creator, so that they can really be who He made you to be.”

When asked what her life quote was, Joy said, “Trust in the LORD with all your might, and lean not unto your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Talk about a miracle – and that is good news.


Author: rlhwrites

Curator of prose and such.

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