AN AMAZING FACT: On October 5, 2010, three teenage boys from the remote South Pacific island of Atafu made a reckless decision. Without consulting their parents, the three cousins decided to attempt a journey across 50 miles of open ocean in a 12-foot aluminum boat to visit some girls from a neighboring island. They never made it. After weeks of searching, the two 15-year-olds and a 14-year-old were given up for dead. Hundreds gathered with their families to grieve and eulogize them in a memorial service. Then, 50 days after the boys set out, a tuna boat was headed back to New Zealand by a route they didn’t usually take when they spotted the boys waving frantically from their tiny vessel. Their craft had drifted nearly 800 miles to a desolate part of the Pacific Ocean northeast of Fiji. The boys were dehydrated, exhausted, and anemic, with second-degree sunburns and fungal infections, but they were alive.
The boys told reporters that they had begun their journey in a drunken haze and soon passed out in the bottom of the boat. When they awoke, they had drifted out of sight of land. Eventually, they ran out of gas for their outboard motor. All their provisions—just 20 coconuts and a mayonnaise jar full of water—were gone within the first six days. After that, they told their rescuers, they survived by catching rain water on a tarp and eating the few raw fish that happened to wash into their boat. Once, they caught a sea bird that landed on their boat, which they also ate raw. Their rescue came just in time: medical staff said they wouldn’t have lasted another week.
The father of one of the boys told reporters that the entire village was so excited that they were crying, singing, hugging, and shouting the good news to each other in the streets. According to the Bible, a similar scene takes place in the streets of heaven each time one sinner repents! Jesus tells us that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:7). And when we finally reach our heavenly home, God will do just what the father of the prodigal son did—bring out the best He has to celebrate our arrival!
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. Luke 15:32