Incessant rain inundated Pohnpei for more than a week. Most people say that this is unusual weather not seen on this island for a very long time. Sabbath it was my turn to preach at Kitti SDA Church, about a 30 to 40 minutes’ drive away from the main town of Kolonia, where my family and I are located. There were many reports of damaged roads, washed away and impassable in different parts of the island. Friday evening I received an e-mail message from the elder in Kitti warning me of road problems. I heard that the nearest route we usually take was impassable due to a part of the road being washed away. I was advised that the only way I could get to Kitti was to drive around the island on the other side. This would take more than two hours. There is only one main road around the island. My family also warned me not to take such a risk. However, I was determined to go because my preaching schedule is evenly divided among all the churches in Pohnpei, and I do not get to visit each congregation every Sabbath. Therefore, under the unceasing showers of rain and warnings of danger sounding in the air, my family and I started on the journey in our van. We left Kolonia around 8:45 a.m. hoping we would be able to reach the church by 11:00 a.m., in time for the divine service. There was no hope of joining them for Sabbath School. Somehow, I had faith enough to believe that Jesus and His angels would accompany us and keep us safe because it was God’s holy Sabbath. We were going to minister to our believers. As is my habit every time I start the engine to drive somewhere, I looked at the little Bible promise sticker I have pasted on the inside of the windshield and prayerfully repeated the promise “The Lord bless thee and keep thee” (Numbers 6:24).
Along the way, we encountered some near-death experiences. We passed over a part of the road being fast washed away on both sides and was just wide enough for the four wheels of our van to go over. Then we came close to another part of the road covered with mud from a landslide. When I saw it several yards ahead of us, I knew I had to make a quick and wise decision. Had I been in my right mind (I am glad I was not), I would have turned around and driven back home. With courage from nowhere except heaven, I pressed forward. I accelerated through the mud. The van, instead of going forward, started slipping towards the precipice on the left. We were alone and helpless. At that moment, I felt that someone mighty was holding the van up from going down the precipice on the left and another mighty arm was giving a push from the back. Our van, which is an old rear wheel drive, usually gets stuck in mud. However, this Sabbath, at full throttle, the van finally made it through the mud. My family and I believe in God’s angels and that they are “all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).
After more driving, we were stopped by a long line of vehicles in front of us. Passersby told us that there was a major landslide ahead and that it would take the villagers, who were trying to clear, it at least two hours. I looked at the time on my wife’s wristwatch; it was 10:00 a.m. I calculated 2 hours or more of driving would get us to the church around 1:00 p.m.; that is, if the road ever got cleared. I could not believe my eyes, after about 15 minutes, we saw the vehicles moving. It seemed like the whole village had come out with shovels to make the road passable. Friendly villagers guided us to maneuver our van through deep mud on that short but dangerous stretch. Who made it possible to reopen the road in 15 minutes when it was predicted that it would take at least two hours? Again, it was miraculous divine intervention.
We pulled up into the church’s driveway at 11:15 a.m. The divine service begins at 11:00 a.m. I was sure someone must be preaching the sermon, and I was going to just shake hands and greet our believers after the service was over. When I looked through the church window, I noticed that the Sabbath School lesson study was still in progress and the service had not yet begun.
By now, I was almost shaking physically after coming through such a grueling and stressful ordeal. The points of my sermon had vanished from my mind. Nevertheless, much to the surprise and amazement of the members, I prayerfully walked into the church and took the pulpit. In spite of the showers, electricity was still on. With my power point slides and flannel graph, coupled with heaven-born confidence, I was able to preach the message with freedom and with power. My sermon was on the Altar of Incense in the Holy Place of the sanctuary representing the experience of prayer in a Christian’s life. When it was all over, my family and I were filled with such a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that all regrets melted away from our hearts. We felt that we were in God’s place, in God’s time, doing God’s ministry, to God’s people. The church and my family would have missed that experience if had I changed my mind and not gone to Kitti that Sabbath.
Now we knew that we could not go back the same way we came because we heard that the road we had taken had become impassable at several places. We already knew that the other shorter route was disconnected. I told the members that we would sleep in the church and appealed to them to bring us some food just for survival. Then, divinity flashed again. While I was shaking hands and greeting people at the door, one of our youth came running to me with the news that the shorter route had been fixed and vehicles were already coming through. People had worked all night to restore the broken road and make it suitable at least for light traffic. We drove back home in about 40 minutes.
By the way, the model of our van is a Toyota Noah. Every time I look at it, I am filled with devotional thoughts of God preserving Noah and his family from the Flood in such wondrous way. And today in the 21stcentury, the same God preserved my family, this time in a Toyota Noah’s ark. The promise is still true and sure, “When thou passesth through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Isaiah 43:2).