Augustine Charahani survived more than 40 hours – nearly 4 days – submerged and alone in the upside-down engine room of a sunken ferry boat off the coast of a Ukara, a small island in Tanzania. The ferry was making its way to one of the remote islands of Lake Victoria. Overcrowded and underpowered, the ferry capsized only a few hundred feet from shore, but only about 40 of the over 260 passengers were able to swim to safety or float long enough to be rescued by nearby fishermen.
This is not the first ferry to go down in Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake. Nearly 60 died when a party boat sank in November 2018, only a couple months after a ferry sank near Ukerewe, killing at least 136. In 1996 some 500 people died when a ferry capsized, and in 2012 another 145 people died when a ferry sank off the shore of Tanzania’s Indian Ocean archipelago of Zanzibar. The worst disaster occurred in 1966. Some 800 souls were lost when the MV Bukoba sank off the mainland town of Mwanza.
It’s often difficult to determine how many lives are lost in these sinkings because the ferries are frequently overloaded well beyond their capacity, and the counts are unreliable. That makes Augustine Charahani’s rescue that much more miraculous. Searchers often do not know when to stop looking for survivors and begin recovering bodies. The diver who found Augustine was not looking for survivors. One can only imagine his shock when the ankle he grabbed in the dark flooded engine room, kicked. It was joy and surprise for both the diver and Mr. Charahani.
Lake Victoria is bordered by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Locals are accustomed to the dangers of the lake; drownings are a regular occurrence. Most boats are aging and poorly maintained if at all. The ferries are dangerous and overcrowded, but they are the primary transportation to shopping, work, and family on the nearby islands.
A Watchman’s Lesson from Lake Victoria
Watchmen can learn from Lake Victoria and the ferries that shuttle across it. The world is perishing – dying daily, hourly, by the moment. Some will not survive today, some will survive 100 years or more. Unlike Victoria’s ferry passengers, all of earth’s passengers are eventual fatalities.
We live one step from eternity. We are not guaranteed next year, or next week, or tomorrow, or 10 minutes from now. Most of us will not be boarding any ferries on Lake Victoria, but that’s not the only danger we face. Four people were killed in their home on Superbowl Sunday in 2019 when a Cessna 414 plunged out of the sky and smashed into their home in Yorba Linda, California. There’s no way to plan against that, no precautions you can take to protect yourself from plummeting aircraft. You won’t see that one on a Farmer’s Insurance commercial. Death is ugly, uncomfortable, and inevitable.
Paul tells us some will escape death, Raptured in a moment, “…we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). For the rest of Earth’s population, death has a 100% guarantee.
There is no way to prepare for a ferry sinking, or a plane crash, or a car wreck, or a terrorist attack. There is a way to prepare for death; however, it may come – Jesus is the One and only Way to God (Acts 4:12). Will knowing Jesus as your Savior prevent you from experiencing a physical death? For some as described in First Thessalonians, yes, but for most of us, no. If Jesus does not return soon we will grow old and eventually this body will wear out and we will die.
Knowing Christ as Savior will, however, absolutely guarantee that death is not the end, but the beginning of life – eternal life (Matthew 25:46).
Are you ready to meet the Lord today? Whether by disaster, disease, complete accident or the victim of premeditated crime, we will all face Him one day; dead to Earth, alive to eternity. You cannot choose what manner of death to die, but you can choose to live eternally in Heaven with God (Philippians 1:22,23).
Choose Eternal Life
Augustine Charahani lived despite overwhelming odds against it. Each day, we live despite the many possible ways we could die. Make today the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). It’s as easy as A-B-C.
A – Admit you are a sinner and need God’s forgiveness. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) As it is written there is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10)
In Romans 6:23 Paul wrote, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Look at the comparison Paul uses – wages and gift. A wage you earn. A gift is free. If you must work for it, it’s not a gift. Conversely, if you get it for free, it’s not a wage and you didn’t get it because you were deserving. The very essence of a gift is that it is not earned.
What did we earn? Death. What is the gift? Eternal life. What must we do to receive wages? Work, earn, deserve. According to Romans 5:12, the only thing we deserve is the inevitable – death. “…sin entered into the world through one man [Adam], and death by sin, so death was passed to all men, because all sinned.” You could rightly say we all face the death penalty. From the moment of birth, we began to die.
But the gift… The gift is the B of the A-B-C’s.
B – Believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and that God raised Him from the dead. Trust, with all your heart that Jesus Christ was exactly Who He said He was. Romans 10:8,10 puts it this way, “That if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart you believe and are justified [released from the death penalty], and with your mouth you confess and are saved.”
C – Confess with your mouth simply means say it — claim Jesus as your Lord and Savior. There is a reason we are to make the statement Jesus is our Savior. Saying it makes the decision personal. Jesus is MY Savior.
Many people know about Jesus. Many believe He was a real person and maybe even the Son of God and Messiah as He claimed (John 4:25,26). But knowing is not enough. If I know there is treasure hidden in a field, but I never dig it up, it’s still treasure, but it’s not MY treasure until I claim it.
You can confess – claim – Jesus as your Savior right now, right where you are, wherever that may be. Do it today.
You can confess Jesus in your own words, but here is a simple example of what to say, “Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I know I cannot save myself, and only You can forgive me and save my soul for eternity. I believe that You died for my sins and rose again as my Savior. I receive You into my heart and give my life to You. Amen”
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