Thursday, September 20, 2012

He Shouldn't be Alive


No, I am not talking about my husband. I am talking about a friend, and fellow missionary who just had a very harrowing experience. Seriously this should be on TV one day.


 This is Chad. He is our friend and former neighbor. In this picture he is in Hewa (our tribe) helping to move our co-workers' house. (He is a man of many talents)



He is in the country serving as a missionary, doing what we call "People Group Assessment." Basically he goes into the jungle to check out places that are reported to have no Gospel witness. They hike into a village, stay in a tribal house, eat whatever the people give, and sleep wherever the people tell them to sleep. These guys are hard core. They seriously could hang with Bear Grylls on any of his adventures.

Chad with the green hat, and Tony, the head of the PGA department out on a survey. (Tony has many great qualifications for this difficult job, but my favorite one that people comment on is his iron stomach. He can eat anything that the people hand him without blinking an eye. That is a much needed talent for this type of work.)


Anyway, Chad recently went to the Islands region of PNG to assess some people groups, and find out if they need missionaries. As you can imagine with the name "Islands region" this requires a lot of travel by boat. I am not talking nice big yacht or speed boat. I am talking dingy...possibly something like this...



Ok, so he is on this small boat with at least 9 other people traveling from one island to the next when a big storm comes out of no where...fast. One big wave swept over the boat instantly sinking it. There was another boat traveling with them that circled when they went down, but did not grab any passengers fearing they would go down as well. When this second boat landed on the nearest island, they shared the fate of the the other boat, and the news eventually reached the missionaries on the island who then told our leadership...who then contacted Chad's family.

This is part of Chad's family...



The pretty blond is Holly, Chad's sister and they just happen to be our neighbors right now in Wewak, although, you may remember them from our time in Bush Orientation. They are the family that helped us learn what it would take to live in the jungle and plant a church there.

His mom and dad are also missionaries here in PNG. They work in Goroka at the mission headquarters.

He also has brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews back in the States who were rocked over the news.

So, at first, all this precious family knows is that Chad's boat sank. They have no idea where he is or what happened to him after that.

A few very long hours later, two men from the sunken boat drifted/swam ashore to the island where they were supposed to land. These men told the islanders and missionaries there that Chad stayed behind to help the other passengers who could not swim. He used his belt and shoelaces to tie some pieces of wood to the gas tank from the boat, so they could all stay together as they floated in the ocean. The family clung to this glimmer of hope that Chad was alive. They stayed up all night waiting and praying, knowing that they wouldn't know anything else until morning. But they weren't alone in this. Almost all the missionaries in PNG who knew about it were up all night praying as well. Along with many people in the States who received the news via the internet.


Meanwhile, the missionary on the island who received the news was this guy...


His name is Ryan. They were our neighbors for a while as well before they moved into this island tribe where Chad was headed. As soon as he heard that Chad and the others were floating in the ocean...and would be there all night, he spent all night going from village to village finding boats and people to leave at the first light of day to search for the drifters. At the break of dawn Ryan and the Patpatar people left the island, praying that they would not be too late. After two hours of searching, Ryan and the villagers found and rescued Chad and the other passengers.

They were all Alive.

They were all uninjured.

After FIFTEEN total hours drifting in open ocean. 

Chad lost all his gear. Including his clothes and computer, but God spared his life and the lives of the PNG citizens who were traveling with him.

Sometimes being a missionary is very difficult, and very scary. But nothing compares to seeing God's glory in the miracles He bestows on His people.

So today, we are praising a merciful God who rescued a prophet from the belly of a fish, a disciple from sinking in the waves that he once walked on, and a humble servant on a small boat in the Pacific Ocean, who was searching for lost the lost sheep that the Shepard wants for His own. 

Thank you Jesus for the life and service of Chad Earl. And thank you Jesus for allowing him to continue to serve you another day.


35 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing the story, Jessi. We were praying for him yesterday and are so thankful he's ok!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Absolutely amazing! That gave me chills!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Praising God for this miracle of rescue. Jesus truly saves, heals, delivers and even rescues from the middle of the ocean!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! What an amazing God-story! Mark & Holly are very dear friends of ours and we were among many who were calling out to God on Chad's behalf. What a thrill to know how everyone pulled together! Thinking of how all this communicated throughout jungle villages blows my mind! God is on the Throne and He's just written another chapter of life to share His goodness. Praising Him with so many others!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. We were praying here in Iowa! So glad to hear "the rest of the story".

    ReplyDelete
  6. Florida was praying last night. Amen to this story!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Praise God! So happy to hear everyone is okay.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Awesome story. Great writing. I know we don't know you guys or Chad, but we have been praying along with you guys all the way from Nebraska. Thanks for he update. Josh Luse

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow!!! Thanks for writing this Jessi! God's pretty amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  10. My daughter went to NTB a few years ago, when she shared with me to pray yesterday for this young man, I couldnt get him off my mind, and I forwarded to all I knew, who would pray for him.
    I just kept seeing him out there, singing praises to Jesus, hanging on to that wood. This story will not be forgotten by the tribal people he is ministering to on the islands!!! How great is our God!!! Thank you Chad, for serving the Lord, and helping the lost.

    ReplyDelete
  11. REJOICING WITH YOU ALL!! ALL PRAISES TO HIM!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Literally have chills reading this - Praise God for the outcome of this amazing story. What a faith builder!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a Saviour we have! Praise the Lord all were found safe!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. So awesome to hear this how God took care of them all. Had some at College of the Ozarks in Missouri praying. Reminds me of the old song by Whiteheart, I think, that says, "Sometimes He calms the storm, sometimes He calms his child. He may take away the burden or may leave it for awhile. Put your trust in the hands of Jesus..."

    ReplyDelete
  15. We were praying in Alberta Canada! Thank you God for this amazing answer to prayer! Thank you for writing it here. We were all thinking, "How can he be presently floating in the ocean and we get a message on Facebook to pray?" There are no cell phone towers in the ocean. So, this explained a lot:)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you for sharing this side of the story!! What an AWE-some Creator we serve.

    {from one of Chad's cousins :o}

    ReplyDelete
  17. Praise Jesus!! How can we donate to replace Chad's gear?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will ask about specifics, but until then you can send a check to:

      New Tribes Mission
      1000 E. First St.
      Sanford FL 32771

      Make sure you write CHAD EARL in the memo line, and it will go directly to him!

      Delete
  18. We were praying in Illinois!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Prayers from central New York from a former NTM missionary. I was following the updates on Facebook and then followed a link over to here. Thanks for putting it all together. What a testimony to God's loving protection.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Oh my! but I know he is happy now because of you. What an inspirational story you have.

    tfi - more info

    ReplyDelete
  21. Praise God! We heard yesterday about this prayer request here in Ontario, Canada and now rejoice with you! What an awesome God we serve!!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thank you Father, You see us no matter where we are and You are a very present help in time of trouble.

    ReplyDelete
  23. We are praising God with you! We were praying in Texas!

    ReplyDelete
  24. What a compelling story! Our God is an awesome God and proves it over and over to us. What a great testimate! Thanks for sharing this! We are from a small church in Tipton, MI. We don't personally know this family, but we support new tribes mission in Jackson. We have had many of the missionary families in our church over the years and have been blessed by their messages and their dedication to spreading God"s word. Pastor Rex Gutwein is also such a great asset to our church and to new tribes. Thank you again for sharing this story- we will continue to pray for the people of PNG and they missionaries that have given their lives to reaching out to spread the gospel.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Praising and thanking our Holy Father

    ReplyDelete
  26. Praise God! Thank you Lord for answered prayers.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Our God is an awesome God!!!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Our church supports the Woodards, and I found out about your blog from another of our missionaries that our church supports. Thanks for sharing this. What a Mighty God we serve!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Ohio was praying! Thank God for facebook! Praise God for rescuing them.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I'm encouraged by this story. The Lord is always with us and He answer our prayer and protect us. Psalm 91 is very real and God keep His promise to us.

    ReplyDelete
  31. We rec'd the news here in Indiana from a friend in Michigan. We wrote to our son and his wife in Wewak, PNG, Bart & Emily Allen, who know Chad and the others. They knew about the problem and were praying, as we were. We praise God for helping Chad to stay with the nationals and for sustaining them in the ocean. So glad everyone is safe.

    ReplyDelete