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Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Homeless in America shares primarily about homelessness, however with a slight digression from the norm, this story is one of boatlessness. It comes by way of Chaplain Pam, a woman’s prison pastor in California. She writes . . .

The recent Orange County Register article about a recent boating accident does not tell you what really happened, I know because my 34 year old son Brian was there. He and his friend Bob decided to fish off the jetty two Sundays ago. But after being battered by the 30 mph hour winds and the 9-10 ft. waves, Brian decided it wasn’t worth it, and told Bob he was going for a walk on the shore. While walking, he noticed a power boat dangerously close to shore and knew the people on board would have to jump out before it began rolling on them in the high surf.

Brian, running along the shore to the boat saw a man thrown from it. The man’s wife on the shore pleaded with Brian to go and save her husband. Brian peeled off his clothes and jumped in to swim to this man, but with the conditions as they were, he knew it would be a fight to save to him.

In the meantime, another man hearing the calls for “help” jumped in to assist Brian, but at once panicked because of the size of the waves and began to drown as well. Fortunately, another man seeing what was happening jumped in to save this man. But Brian continued on to the man who remained in sight about 15 ft. off shore.

After much time passed getting through the crashing waves, Brian watched as the man went down for the last time, still out of arms reach, and knew he was dead. For my son, the most difficult part of all of this was accepting the fact this man died and he had failed to save him. Now, due to sheer exhaustion, he knew he was drowning as well, and would need to fight hard save himself.

Brian told me, “Mom, I knew I was going to die . . . that this was it. I also knew the only chance I had to survive was if God, would somehow pop me up with this last wave, and throw me quite a distance off into the rocks. I curled into a ball so I wouldn't hit my head on the rocks and waited for the wave.” In answer to his prayer, the Lord and Savior that Brian has loved all his life, did just this . . . He was thrown on to the rocks.

Bleeding, Brian climbed as quickly as possible over the rocks to the jetty. By now every rescue crew available was there, along with a huge crowd and pulled him from the jetty . . . When he reached the top of the jetty and began walking off of it, drowning man’s wife ran up to him, “Did you save my husband?” Brian said he couldn’t tell her, and instead pointed to the rescuers to help her.

Unfortunately, no one on the boat was wearing a life vest on that day. The three remaining in the boat could have perished, not to mention the three others who jumped in after this man. But, through the grace of God, only one died, not six . . . the man Brian tried so desperately to save.

My son second-guesses himself now, wondering if he had just done things a little differently, had seen the people in the boat a little sooner, or if he had just done . . . But, we don’t second guess God, and He allowed it to happen the way it did. We may never know the reason, but I know this, Brian was saved because there is still more for him to do on this earth, and although it will be a process of acceptance, “survivor’s guilt” will not get the best of him. And so he grieves. He said he is asking for prayers of comfort for this man’s family. I would ask also for prayers for Brian.

I drove to San Diego to see him on Sunday, to hold on to him, and hug him as I listened to his heart still beating with life, and thanking God for His great compassion and mercy. Here’s a picture of our reunion.
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