I’m not sure why I hadn’t realized how much of a personal connection that this story would have for my friends.
This particular week, we were reading in Mark 4 where Jesus and his disciples, who had already been standing in a boat to teach all of the people that had gathered around, had decided to leave the crowds and go to the other side of the lake. Jesus had been tired, so he had gone to sleep, but as they were sailing, a storm came up and the water started to quickly come into the boat as the waves crashed over the side. Not knowing what to do, the disciples woke Jesus up, thinking that he was aloof to their situation. Jesus wakes up, tells the storm and the seas to be calm, and it happens! Of course, the disciples are amazed, even terrified, and they ask each other who this is that even the wind and waves obey him?
As we were discussing this story, one of my friends explained that this was similar to what had happened as their boat had set out onto the sea from the coast of Libya. He said that they were in a small boat, but that the traffickers had packed 150 people onto it. They had been out to sea for two days when a storm had come up. The people were already weak after their time in the boat, but through the night as the storm battered and tossed their little boat, they lost more than half of the people who had been journeying with them. They all thought that they were going to die and everyone was calling out to God that He would save them.
The storm finally calmed, but it left their boat broken and their spirits depleted as they had lost one person after the next. Their supplies were gone and they remained at sea for another two days without food or water, something they had already been rationing among themselves, even before the storm. Now they were drifting and people were dying around them. In all, when they were finally rescued, only 15 people remained alive in the boat.
There were no words that I could use to adequately respond to this story. How can we even begin to understand seeing 90% of the people that you have started a journey with die before your eyes? The only thing that I could manage to say is that God must have a plan for their lives.
This is what we believe and are hoping for. I can’t explain why all of those people in the boat would lose their lives, but our hope is that God will use these remaining friends of ours to bring hope and blessing, with lives that fully follow Jesus, to make God known to people here and across the face of the earth. God has brought them to this place, has blessed them and spared their lives, and now has a plan to use them just as He has used us, and in even greater ways. May God make it so, and soon!