Note: This story is a continuation of the previous day’s blog.
We had been so confident we left the village all our water and only took one little bottle of water each to tide us over till we got to the next village. We had no food. The T’moan village was probably seven kilometers behind us, yet I new they could not help us either. They had no tools, no machinery, no vehicles and no food either. The only way forward was about forty-five kilometers to the next village. As I Boy Scout I had once hiked 25 miles in one day, and it about killed me as a physically fit teenager with plenty of food and water. Now, it seemed our only option for help was to walk forty-five kilometers (about 30 miles). I knew we could never do it, even if we had water. As for water, we were about five kilometers from the closest water source, and it was a stagnant river bed. This was a serious problem.
I didn’t panic. I just silently prayed. I felt God wanted to teach me something. Why else would have allowed me to break down in the middle of nowhere?
The sun was starting to get higher in the sky and soon it became unbearably hot. It was not the cool evening breeze anymore. Adding to the difficulties, I had brought my 10 year old son on this trip and one of his friends. So I was responsible for the lives of two kids out in the jungle on top of everything. My son just jumped out and started playing. He was pretending to be Luke Skywalker and attacking an invisible force. He was oblivious to the danger we were now in.
We had no choice but to try and fix the vehicle. We struggled for two hours and finally were able to get the wheels close the right place, but they were still not attached, only sitting in the right position. We tried to tie our winch line around the axel to hold it onto the body of the car. After so much work in the dirt and hot sun we were tired and almost all our water was gone. The drive shaft was still separated, but we just tied it up so that it would not spear into the ground and cause further damage. Since it was a 4×4 vehicle, we still had use of our front wheels because they are attached to a separate drive shaft. So we could move slowly. The broken drive shaft was whipping around with the every turn of the wheel. It was whacking the bottom of the vehicle with a loud clunk with every revolution. I felt absolutely hopeless. We had worked for two hours and this was the best we could do. I had no hope that this was going to work. Suddenly, about one kilometer down the road, the wheels fell off again. There was no way that we could repeat that same procedure for each kilometer we had to go. It would take two weeks to get to the next village and we would long run out of food and water before then.
We got out of the vehicle to pray and further assess the situation. My son went back to attacking Darth Vader and myself and two other young men looked around and contemplated what to do. We needed a miracle.
Suddenly, we heard a rumble in the distance. I was sure it was loggers or smugglers; either way, they would likely flee at the sight of the vehicle. As we saw the motorcycle we noticed it was a man we met a few days earlier. He was indeed a smuggler, but one we knew, so he was a friendly smuggler! As he saw us, he stopped as we were “friends”. Immediately he looked at the vehicle and said, “You guys are in big trouble”. He bent down and looked how we had tried to fix it. He thought: this was not going to work. He saw the broken drive shaft. He said, “We need to reconnect the drive shaft; that is crucial to making it out of the jungle.” He continued, “You can’t make it up over the lip of the river banks without four wheel drive.” He oozed confidence and it was not even his problem. It is not typical of Cambodian’s to help each other like this. It was as if God had sent him directly to us. He didn’t even ask permission to help us; he just climbed under the vehicle in all the dirt and started doing what he could to fix our vehicle. We climbed under with him and pulled and tugged together.
At one point we needed to jack up the vehicle. I didn’t know what to do. He did. He told me to find a tree about 8 inches across and 25-30 feet long and chop it down. We would use the spire tire as a pivot point and with the tree as a lever hoist the vehicle in the air to reset the axel position and driveshaft. We had no water, we had no food and we worked for hour after hour in the sun. Slowly making progress, but not sure if we would be successful or not. Five hours later we had done all we could. We had the axel in place; we re-attached the drive shaft, and used the wince cable wrapped around the axel and truck body to hold it all in place. Would it hold?
I never quit contemplating what God was trying to speak to me. Our lives are like this breakdown in the middle of nowhere. We are hopeless. We are stuck in the middle of the jungle with no way out. The only way we are going to get out is by a miracle. Jesus can provide any miracle for us. “Everything is possible with Christ.”
- Some people go through life acting like my son. He was in great danger, yet all he wanted to do was play. He was oblivious to the dangers around him. He was in trouble, but he didn’t even care to know it. Many, many people that we meet each day are like that. They are just living live to the fullest, yet are seemingly oblivious to the danger that awaits their soul. We can only try to help them and warn them.
- Others are like me, they are the Eagle Scouts. “Be Prepared” is our motto. We are prepared for everything: sewing torn pants, knot tying, bird identification, plus we have really cool pocket knives. We think we are ready for anything and then. . .wham. . . an axel breaks! Our preparation, our planning, our thinking, our training, our effort along with our bright shiny knife is inadequate to help us. We need a miracle. We need Jesus to come down and rescue us.
- Still others are like the smuggler. He has a list of evil deeds longer than a felled log. Greed is his life. Yet, something in him is burning away inside of him. Something is leading him to help a fellow traveler. He is empowered with supernatural compassion for others.
That winch wire held. It was nothing short of a miracle to get to the next village. It took a miracle and all of us working together. Our temporary job was so strong that in fact we made it out of the jungle and drove for two days to get all the way to Phnom Penh where I could have it repaired professionally. You know as I drove out of the jungle during many points in our slow journey I would swear that I could see the footsteps of angels walking in front of the vehicle. I think they were pulling us to safety. At any point if the wince cable broke, we would probably have had a cataclysmic accident, yet I believe God held it all together. We drove out of danger and out jungle friend continued on his way after I thanked him profusely for helping us out. I never saw him again.
That is not really the end of the story. It has much greater significance. Do you know why we were in the jungle? Not for adventure; though we had it. We were not there to discover anything; though we did. We were there simply compelled by the love of Jesus for us and the passion to give it to others. God was using us to be a miracle for the T’moan people. Jesus wants to be their miracle to lead them out of danger to a place of safety.
We can also be someone else’s miracle. Some of the most famous mission phrases ever uttered was done so in error. When William Carey knew he was called of God to go to India, he was told by his church Deacons that “If God wants to save the heathen, he will do it without your help or mine.” Interestingly, it was a Baptist Church. Today, Baptists in all their denominations, probably the largest missionary force in the world. You know, that statement is not true in the least. In reality, “God wants to save the heathen, and he is depending on you!”
As believers, God has called us to be miracles for others. We are called to help those who are broken down in the jungle of life. They may be like my son who did not even realize the danger he was in, or they may be like me who was desperately trying to fix something which I could not fix in my own strength. Either way, we needed help. Jesus is our miracle. Jesus also wants us to be a miracle to others!