I stood alone next to the body of a drowned young man in the pitch black of Africa. It was close to midnight and the investigation was nearing an end.
The stars glistened with brilliance as I looked up at our universe. I could clearly see the dust stars of the Milky Way arm visible in remote areas. Orion the constellation was off to my right. It was upside down from the position I am familiar with at home in America. The Southern Cross (the Big Dipper of the Southern Hemisphere) showed brilliantly in front of me. My mind went to God’s Word.
Psalm 147:4 says, He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. (1)
Nothing escapes the notice of our Lord God. He is aware of everything as it transpires. I remembered that angels attended the death of Lazarus. I glanced around the darkness and no longer felt alone. God was clearly present!
It all began six hours earlier as the group arrived at the camp site. As the group began to settle in rooms a small group of young people raced to the pool, jumping the fence with warning signs and proceeded to enter the water. Unfortunately, none of them could swim. Within a short time one began to struggle and drown. He was sinking to the bottom of the deep end. Another tried to jump in and help him but the struggle also overcame the second teenager. Now two bodies lay at the bottom of the pool.
Desperate to save their friends they went looking for sticks and logs to get them out. The leader of the group raced down and stood helpless as he saw these two on the bottom. He also could not swim. One young person alerted a camp employee who raced to the pool and dove in. She brought both bodies to the surface within seconds.
People began CPR immediately on both boys. Frantic moments blended into a rhythm of CPR movements. Within a few minutes the second young man gasped for air and began to breath. Teachers and Para medics worked for over two hours trying to revive the first young man.
My heart sank as I walked toward the swimming pool at the camp. I could see the body of the seventeen year old young man who lay motionless on the ground. No one was standing next to the body and my eyes searched for someone in charge. I spotted two paramedics over next to the building and proceeded to meet them. Where is the youth leader, I asked? They looked around unaware of his location and sent a student to find him.
The time that followed was filled with tears, confusion and shock. The thrill of saving one had been snuffed out by the death of another. But God had not missed the event. He prepared each of us to reflect Him at the right time. Before they jumped in the pool God had prepared to heal the brokenhearted. .
Psalms 147:3 says, He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. 2
Are you available for God to use you today?
Please pray as we return to Africa this weekend for two months.
Cathy and Danny Sartin
(1) The Holy Bible: New International Version. Electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S Psalms 147:4
(2) The Holy Bible: New International Version. Electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S Psalms 147:3
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Four decade veteran of youth ministry in churches, Youth For Christ and now is the Founder and Executive Director of Deeper Still Missions. Danny and his wife Cathy spend most of their time mentoring missionaries in Africa, Europe, Central America and North America. Future opportunities include South America and the Asia Pacific area.