In the days of sailing vessels, a Moravian missionary who had been serving in Jamaica, along with his wife and their small daughter, set sail for Mississippi. As it was a trip of only a few days, the ship carried very few provisions. They had not gone far, however, when a storm arose and drove them far from their course. The storm was followed by a dead calm that settled down, making it impossible to sail.
As the days lengthened into weeks, their food and water was almost gone. Each day everyone was given a small biscuit to eat and half a pint of water to drink. Under the hot tropical sun, this was not nearly enough water, and the suffering from thirst became almost more than words can describe. The passengers’ tongues became so swollen from thirst that they could hardly close their mouths.Though they had offered many prayers for help, the day came when the supply of food was nearly gone. The missionary’s wife decided to spend the entire night in prayer, asking God to send someone to help them. Early the next morning, she finally fell asleep. Not long after she fell asleep, she was awakened by her husband’s voice.
“My dear,” he said, “we think we see a sail. I would not disappoint you, but if it is God’s will for us, it will come to our relief.”
As quickly as possible, they made their way up on to the deck. The distant ship was still too far away to be seen by the naked eye, but the passengers took turns looking through the ship’s spyglass. It certainly looked as if it were a ship. Yes; now they were sure it was a ship, but would it come their way. They had seen ships far in the distance before, but each time the ship had passed out of sight without having seen them.
But this ship was coming nearer and nearer. Soon they could see it with the naked eye. Still it kept coming closer until it came close enough that a small boat was let down and four men, one of them evidently the captain, stepped into it and came across to where the stricken vessel sat floating in the water.The captain was the first to come aboard. When he saw their desperate condition, he lifted his hat and solemnly said:
“Now I believe that there is a God in heaven!”
The ship that had rescued them proved to be one of the small steamers that towed sailing vessels into the harbor. By the rules that then bound them, they were only allowed to go a certain distance out of port to look for vessels needing their assistance. Following is the strange story that the captain told.One day after he had gone the full limit, he felt unaccountably impelled to go still farther, although there was not a vessel in sight. His mate remonstrated with him, reminding him of the fine to which he was subject if he continued on beyond the range that was permitted.
“I cannot help it! I have to go on!” was his only reply.
By and by the captain became desperately seasick, something that he had not experienced in twenty years. He became so sick that he was forced to take to his berth, yet he refused to turn back. The crew finally mutinied, for they were now growing short on provision. Thinking their captain had lost his senses, they determined to take things into their own hands and return home with the ship. At this point, the captain became so distressed that he begged them to go on, promising them that if they saw nothing to justify his action by sunrise the next morning, he would give up and promptly return home. The men reluctantly agreed to continue on through the night. When the day dawned, the man at the masthead reported a black, motionless object far out to sea.”Make for it!” exclaimed the captain, emphatically. “That is what we have come after.”
At that instant, the seasickness left him; and he took the post of command. On reaching the ship with the missionaries and seeing their terrible condition, although he had been an infidel for many years, the conviction came to him with overwhelming power that he had been supernaturally guided and that there was a God in heaven. Later, when he learned of how the feeble missionary mother had spent the entire night in prayer, he became fully convinced that He was also a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God.
This is a modern illustration of the fact that God “delivereth and rescueth, and He worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth.” Daniel 6:27