I often wonder what it was like to walk with Jesus in the flesh.
… if I would have been a stronger person than I am now.
… if I would have had a deeper faith than I do now.
… if I would have loved more and traversed life valleys with more grace than I do now.
I wonder if I would be different if I had walked with Jesus in the flesh.
As I read about the miracles of Jesus, I sometimes try to put myself in the crowd in those days. How could their eyes even process what they saw before them?
… the blind beggar no longer needing a guide.
… the man lame from birth, walking home with his mat on his head.
… the legendary, naked demon man now proclaiming Jesus in the streets.
What did those onlookers think when they initially saw the extraordinary? What were they pondering as they drifted off to sleep that night? How did it change the way they lived they next day… Or the day after that?
This week I witnessed miracles.
On Sunday before a group of 100 students arrived at the resort, I sat down with my key school trip facilitators and said, “Guys, I don’t know why, but I think we need to be ready for this week. We need to focus on safety and be alert.” For some reason, it was heavy on my heart. And as I limped away from that meeting, having just come out of knee surgery 8 days prior, I asked God to protect us from what might come.
And on Wednesday night during our staff meeting after day 3 of the school program, a teacher came running in and said a child had fallen through the railing and into the sea.
As I close my eyes now and remember, images flash through my mind like an old-fashioned slide show…
…Peering down over the jetty and seeing the 6th grader wandering around in shin-deep, blood-stained water, 4 meters below.
…Staff mobilizing and organizing themselves… making phone calls, hauling blankets and medical supplies and a backboard.
…Me running down the jetty and out into the water, on the phone with medical personnel in Singapore.
God, I have some questions for you.
- Why wasn’t the child impaled by the railing falling just below her?
- Why and how did that child land on her feet from that high up?
- How was it that every time I called out for something to be brought down, one of my staff either already had it there, or got it there within a couple of minutes?
- How did the boat get there so fast, fueled and ready and staffed?
- How did we have the exact amount of staff needed to carry the child on the backboard and into the boat?
- How was it possible that those present to help were not merely gawking, but each taking an active role in helping with the evacuation?
- And wait… how was I running? I just got off crutches 5 days ago.
And the answer I have heard for each of these questions is a simple one. “It was My Hand.”
We witnessed a miracle. The Hands of the Father spared us from a tragedy that night that could have haunted us for life.
After the boat left to take the child to the hospital in Batam, I sat down with my team. It was silent. Our hearts were heavy and our stomachs in knots. It felt like we had been in emergency mode for hours, though in reality only 68 minutes had passed. And we prayed. And that night, Jesus sat with us. Though less than half in that circle know Him, He came near to us. And I believe every one of them knew it.
The next day was a quiet one. I was tired from a sleepless night of phone calls and continued coordination of getting that child on to Singapore for better medical care. But the school program continued on. Kids still laughed and learned. Our staff still ran a great program. And we moved on with weary, but thankful hearts.
But little did we know, that there was still more to come…
On Friday morning at 8 am, the students were out learning about local fishing practices. They would leave at 12:00 pm that day, but still had a few hours of fun to go. In the meantime, I was in an upper level management team meeting with all the managers from both of our resorts (which are approximately one kilometer apart from each other.) Though we are eye-distance apart and can look out the window and see each other’s facilities daily, it’s not too often that we all get to be together.
Friday’s topics revolved around safety. For 15 minutes, I talked about the crisis that had occurred at our property that week, and raved about the beauty of how our team of local Indonesian staff had worked together. I talked about ways that we could improve our response for the future, and how we need to continue to train and emphasize high standards of safety in each of our departments. In the background, we heard one loud crash of thunder, and I wondered if the students would have a wet departure to end their eventful week.
A few minutes later, just as I was finishing my talk, I got a phone call from one of my staff running the school program. The connection was choppy and I only heard the words “our boat house,” and then it cut out. My gut knotted again. I excused myself for a minute and went outside.
Thick black smoke filled the air in a large column.
And again, I ran the 200 meters down the jetty, yelling at confused kids to move aside. Behind me was at least 15 other local staff, also running with hoses, pumps, etc.
“Oh God, please help us,” I whispered, as I reached the front deck. That sound we heard was not thunder. It was an explosion.
Across the way, at the other property, huge flames engulfed the fuel building at the end of a long cement jetty out over the water. Down below the jetty, three of our boats were tied together, fueled and ready to take the students home. Within seconds, all three of those boats were in flames as well. We watched as the ropes burned away and the flaming boats began drifting toward the guest rooms.
I still am shocked at how fast the response time was. Within minutes, we had boatloads of staff and fire extinguishers heading over to help.
Hands trembled as the number was dialed to find out about casualties. Ten men stay in dorms right behind that fuel building, and someone is always there.
Our final incident report states that two men were present at the time the fuel pump sparked and ignited the fuel. One was in the boat down below. After desperately trying to untie the boats to save them, he jumped overboard when the fuel ignited. He was able to swim out of the fuel and to safety. The other man was in the fuel room. At the moment of the explosion, he jumped out through the flames and into the ocean. He received first and second degree burns on his hand, face and legs. I talked to him this morning.
I can’t believe I ever had a chance to talk to that man again.
So here is my place to make an amendment to that incident report. Surely there were three present at the moment of the explosion. And one of them was my Jesus.
There was much loss to our company on October 21… Huge amounts of fuel… two boats unsalvageable… engines… buildings… 200 life jackets and more…
But we witnessed a miracle… again.
- We saw an explosion that you only see in the movies, yet all of our staff was accounted for.
- We saw flaming boats heading toward wooden guest villas, yet the winds and currents directed them out to sea, and our brave staff (including my husband!) was able to put them out.
- We saw guests so impressed with our response that they still felt safe and wanted to stay and continue their vacation out there.
- We had just enough life jackets and rented boats available to be able to get all 100 students back to Batam safely and on schedule.
- We saw passersby stop and help us with their own boats.
- We even saw a former employee that we had to let go 6 months ago come with his own boat to help us too!
And on and on and on…
God, I have some questions for you… “It was My Hand, Child,” He says to me again.
So now what? What did those crowds do when they saw a miracle of Jesus firsthand? What did they think about as they went to sleep? How did it change them?
And how will it change me? Now I have seen miracles too. I have seen the Hand of God protect my friends, catch a falling child, and spare my company from devastation untold.
Tears stream down my face as I stare blankly at my computer screen. Scores of unanswered emails and projects sit right behind this window on my desktop. They weigh on me. They want to be answered. They want me to forget.
Dear Jesus, I don’t want to leave this week unchanged. I don’t want to forget what Your Hands looked like when they carried us this week. I want every person to hear the depths of gratitude I have for this story that You have chosen to write into my life. Please help me to not quickly forget that the same Hands who raised Lazarus are the same hands who touched us this week. And they are the same ones that are there to hold my hand during the mundane as well. Help my eyes to be open to the daily ways that you are working too… not just in near-death experiences and explosions. And that I DO walk with You today, as the disciples did long ago. Father, deepen my faith. And may my life be a testimony of Your mighty Hands.