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Rescue Needed

He prayed: “Lord, give me an opportunity to make a personal difference in someone’s life.” His prayer would be answered in a big way.


“What an amazing looking waterfall,” my fiancé Lori said, pointing ahead to a spot just off the road we were driving. Breathtaking scenery was all around us here in New Zealand, and I didn’t get to enjoy it often, spending most of my time captaining a medical missionary ship.

I loved the mission’s goal–to bring medical treatment to remote Pacific island communities, but I was often looking for opportunities to connect with people one-on-one: I didn’t want to just hide behind my job of getting the ship from place to place.

I trained as a Merchant Mariner and with the Navy Reserve–always to be ready for the unexpected. On a month and a half long break back in America, I had taken a first aid refresher course, to keep my skills fresh.

When I returned to my ship in New Zealand I needed to be prepared for another season of service. The ship had doctors but sailors have to be ready for all kinds of situations.

Before my plane took off, I prayed with my parents: “Lord, give me an opportunity to make a personal difference in someone’s life.”

Now, on the drive from the airport, I marveled at the beautiful waterfall. “Let’s take a closer look,” I said to Lori. We pulled off not far from our exit and walked up to the edge of the pool at the base of the falls. Water cascaded down the jutting boulders, splashing at my feet.

Suddenly, I saw a man slip off one of the rocks. The drop had to be at least 13 feet. It was an ugly fall, but as he came to the surface we thought he was okay. Then his body rolled face down. Blood clouded the water around his head.

I ran quickly around the pool, shouting to Lori to call for help. I jumped in as close to the man as I could and managed to turn him upright while keeping his neck stabilized.

Within a few moments, he regained consciousness. His head steady between my forearms, I supported him in the water for 30 minutes until the ambulance arrived.

We heard about a month later that he had spent two weeks in the hospital with a broken neck, but had miraculously not been paralyzed.

No one else around the waterfall at that moment had the training to save his life–except me.


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