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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

River Tragedy

2:30 am
From the inside -
“Why am I here? What happened? Where is my family? I’m scared. What do I do? All I can remember is getting on a boat with my family last night. We left our village upriver, and we were headed to a bigger city. I think that is what Daddy told me. It was so late. I remember rain. Lots of rain. Then all I remember is darkness. Now I am here. Will someone help me? I want my mommy.”

From the outside –
“Struggling to stay afloat... Everything happened so fast... Where are the others? Are there still some inside? My head is bleeding. What do I do? I hear screams inside. We have to get them out! Someone help me! Quick, there are more inside. Get help! Here, hold onto this log, try to stay afloat. I am going to try to get back in.”
Moments passed.
“I can’t get in, it is too muddy. I can’t see anything. We have to get help!”

Deep in the Amazon Rainforest, and barge carrying cement and bricks chugged down the river. It was an old, dilapidated boat, needing to be retired. Nevertheless, it was still in service, making its runs from village to village along the muddy river. That night a large number of villagers hopped on board, against the captain's wishes, for a free ride to a larger town several hours away. Little did they know that “free” would not be cheap.
At 2 a.m. a large rainstorm picked up. The water brought onto the boat combined with the turbulent waters of the Amazon caused the old barge to flip rapidly. Bricks, supplies and passengers were sent whirling into the darkness. Some survived, others did not. Some were knocked unconscious, some swam to shore, some slowly sank into the murky waters, and others found themselves inside.

12:00 p.m.
From the inside –
“How long have I been here? I am hungry. I am so cold. Will someone help me? Stop biting me! The fish are biting me! Help!”

From the outside –
“What can we do? I know there are more inside. Listen to them yelling. It has been 10 hours. We have to get them out.”
“I am sorry; we are doing all we can. We tried to cut a hole to pull them out, but the boat began to sink. We have to wait for the Scuba team to get here.”
“What is taking so long?! Who knows how long they will last. The bodies we have found down river are torn up by the piranhas, how long do you think they will wait to get the living!?”
“Listen, we would go faster, but we can’t.”
“Send the rescue helicopter. That is what they are here for!”
“They won’t go. They say they don’t have enough fuel.”

Rescue attempts were made throughout the day. Some tried to swim in but made it nowhere; others tried to cut through the hull but to no avail. The body count continued to grow. Ten, twelve, and then fifteen. Twenty came, and then more were found. Thirty seemed to be too much to bear, but there were still more. The screams, pounding, and pleading faded as time crept on. Family members on the shore mourned the loss of their family members. A grandmother of more than eighty years sat and cried. Why was she still alive and the rest of her family gone? She had lived a full life. Why were the others cut so short?

9:30 p.m.
From the inside-
“Will anyone come for me? Where is my family? When will the fish stop biting?”

From the outside-
“So many have died already. I am afraid that we have lost more. Isn’t there anything else to do? What is taking the rescue team so long? God forgive us.”

The rescue team arrived twenty hours after the initial accidents. Scuba divers were able to pull out four survivors from the rusty wreckage.
A twelve year old and ten year old were trapped alongside of a young mother with her deceased baby who had drowned in the accident. From another compartment, separated from all others, a three-year-old girl was brought out. She had survived twenty hours of cold, piranha-infested Amazon waters.

Throughout the rest of the week, the hearse of the small town made it's way back and forth from the port to the morgue. Family after family was brought in and asked to identify one, two, or three other members pulled from the river. The whole region ached at the lost of some forty-two men, women and children. Sadly, this type of accident is all too common for the jungle. Life is found from the Great River, and life is often taken by her as well.

One week later:

From the inside -
"Why me? Why my boat? Where can I go? What can I do? The burden is too much to bear."
This time the cries were not heard from a three year old trapped in the belly of a boat, but of a captain in chains on his way to the city to be judged. He had survived, but forty-two of the illegal passengers on his boat had not. The future looked dim, and much like Jonah in the belly of a fish, this man sat thinking of his hopelessness.

From the outside -
Two pastors from Lima- Evelio and Segundo, on their way home after a week of offering classes to rural pastors, hear of the prisoner below.
"This man needs Christ, and now may be the time."

Forty-two living, breathing, God-created people lost their lives on account of this accident, but one dead man found life. Seeing for the first time the saving power of Jesus Christ being offered to him personally, the captain of the shipwrecked vessel placed his faith and trust in Jesus Christ. One who was once an enemy of God (Rom. 5:10) became a son of God (John 1:12) in the midst of what appeared to be a horrible tragedy. God's plan is perfect.

1 comment:

Bergie said...

Praise the Lord! Sometimes one has to hit "rock bottom" to see the Solid Rock. We will continue to keep this captain in our prayers - that his trial and all will go according to God's will. We miss you both and pray for you often.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:8)