here could they be?” Mrs. Edward asked, a hint of worry in her voice. “They should have been back by now.”
It was evening, and I was on the porch with some of the school’s staff. The senior class had taken boats to camp on one of Pohnpei’s outer islands, called Ahnd (Ant) Atoll, for the weekend. Now it was Sunday, and everyone had returned from the senior retreat, sun-kissed and filled with laughter.
Everyone, that is, except for the principal, Mr. Edward; the math teacher, Mr. Drusky; and Pastor Tim.
The students and other staff had been back for hours already, and we had grown worried as we continued to wait. We knew they had not even made it back to the dock, so somewhere, out in the wide expanse of the ocean, was a rickety fishing boat filled to the brim with supplies and our missing people.
With no way to contact them, Mrs. Edward, the principal’s wife, left to contact the police. Something bad must have happened. Where were they? What happened? Were they stranded? Were they in danger? We formed prayer circles, lifting our petitions heavenward.
The next morning, we finally received our answers when Mr. Edward, Mr. Drusky, and Pastor Tim stumbled onto campus, sunburned and exhausted but grateful to be alive. Excitedly, we all pressed close and waited to hear their adventure.
The day before, everything had gone normally at first as they climbed aboard the school’s tiny fishing boat. After a full weekend, they were ready to go home and rest.
They were more than halfway back to Black Coral Island when the wind-stirred waves started washing over the sides of the boat, and it started raining hard. The boat capsized, tipping sideways before turning completely over, supplies and gear riding the waves like skilled surfers. The three men clung to the boat for about an hour, but as evening approached, they realized time was of the essence.
“Can we make it to Black Coral?” they wondered aloud, but the current made that impossible. Heading back to Ahnd was the only option. They removed anything shiny or reflective from their bodies, fearful of attracting the vigilant barracuda.
A few life jackets were fished out of the floating supplies, and Principal Edward attempted to empty a gas can for additional buoyancy. But as the gas streamed down his arm onto his chest and stomach, it left a burning pain in its wake. Mr. Drusky inhaled the fumes, which induced continual vomiting.
The sun was dropping steadily now, and they swam and swam hurriedly; the strong current pushed back, and they moved at an agonizing pace. Finally, the sun set, shrouding the three castaways in complete darkness.
Thirsty, hungry, and utterly exhausted, the men prayed continuously throughout the night, asking God for protection and stamina.
Suddenly, the wind shifted, pushing against their backs, and the current began carrying them in the right direction. They swam hard, adrenaline pumping through their veins.
At one point, Pastor Tim asked, “Do you think our angels are above us, or do you think they’re swimming in this water with us right now?”
Without hesitation, Mr. Drusky replied, “You know, I think they’re swimming with us.” So as the night dragged on, six beings—three humans and three guardian angels—cut through the water, focused on the single goal of getting home.
Finally, Mr. Drusky’s voice cut through the darkness as he signaled to his companions that they had reached the shore. They stretched out desperately and found a foothold, scrambling to safety. Throwing themselves on the sand, they lay there drained after eight hours of constant swimming, prayers of thanksgiving pouring from their lips.
The owners of the island helped them contact the mainland by radio and then fed and housed them for the night. This is the story they relayed to us the next morning, and we joined them in praising God for His deliverance.
We may never know why the boat was allowed to sink, but I believe that God picked the three people He knew could handle the situation and survive it. They could still see Ahnd in the distance before the sun set, and God protected them from the hundreds of sharks and other dangerous creatures they undoubtedly swam past in the night.
Above all else, I know He and His angels were with them every step (and stroke) of the way.
Adventist Volunteer Service facilitates volunteer missionary service of church members around the world. Volunteers ages 18 to 80 may serve as pastors, teachers, medical professionals, computer technicians, orphanage workers, farmers, and more. To learn more, please visit AdventistVolunteers.org.