More than 200 eager truth seekers were planning to get together to watch a live satellite downlink in the village of Katurasele, on the island of Choiseul, Solomon Islands. The surrounding villages had heard that the Seventh-day Adventist Church have set up a satellite dish in that village to downlink evangelistic preaching live from the United States, something never before seen by many of the island people.
As the scheduled meeting date was approaching, the technician discovered that the satellite receiver had not arrived. He radioed the Adventist mission headquarters in Honiara--about 500 kilometres away--for the equipment. The technician was told the satellite receiver would be sent to Gizo by plane. But Gizo is on another island, still about 100 kilometres from Katurasele Village. To travel there, one had to travel by boat across the Shortland Strait for four hours.
A day before the meeting was to commence, Christopher Makoni and three other young people were requested to travel across to pick up the equipment and return the same day. Christopher, an ex-bodyguard for the prime minister of the Solomon Islands, and his friends were eager to carry out the errand because it would provide an opportunity to get to the hotel at Gizo for an alcoholic party. Christopher and his friends had some Adventist upbringing but had not given their lives to Jesus.
The weather was just right when the boys went across the stretch of sea between Choiseul and Gizo on a 15 horse-power driven boat. On arrival at Gizo, they went to the Air Cargo department and collected the parcel but instead of starting back, they decided to have a good time at the Gizo hotel before returning the next morning. The group spent all night drinking with other friends. Early in the morning, they reminded themselves that they had to quickly return to Choiseul with the electronic equipment before the evangelistic meeting started. Before they left Gizo, they decided to buy some more cans of beer
for the trip home. Because they were drunk, they had forgotten to check the engine and had not remembered the pastor's instruction to change the engine's gear oil before they returned to Choiseul Island. Drunk as they were, they started out for home. The weather was beginning to become unfavourable, with a gusty southwest wind. Yet the boys did not mind. They had travelled this stretch of sea many times and sometimes the sea was much rougher than it was that morning.
They had gone two hours, when they heard a funny noise coming from the outboard motor. They quickly stopped the engine and investigated the problem. They soon discovered it had been running without gear oil. There was nothing they could do.
Scanning the horizon, they knew that they were more than 30 kilometres from the nearest island. At that moment, the effect of alcohol disappeared and fear settled in. They started blaming each other for the mishap. "If you had not mixed the drinking plan with God's mission, we would not have got into this problem," the boys reminded Christopher.
Deep within his thoughts, Christopher started blaming himself for bringing this calamity on them. He started thinking God was speaking to him through this ordeal.
After thinking carefully, he finally said to his friends, "I know the Lord is testing us out. We were sent on a special mission and therefore the trip was God's trip but we have polluted it with our drinking and bad behaviour. I recall reading about our God, who is a loving God, and therefore I am going to pray for Him to forgive and deliver us. If this forgiving God really does forgive us, He must show us a sign."
About half an hour later, one of the boys broke the silence with a loud cry, "Look! A drum is floating toward us!"
They all watched with amazement as the drum floated right up to them. They took hold of the drum and pulled it alongside their boat. It was a 20 litres of gear oil, exactly what they needed but 19 litres more than they required. They refilled the motor and soon they were on their way home with the equipment needed for the evangelistic program. Christopher and his three friends were among those who gave their lives to God at the end of the evangelistic program. I am the Lord, your Holy One, Israel's Creator and King. . . . For I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness for my people to come home. I will create rivers for them in the desert! . . . I--yes, I alone--am the one who blots out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again. Isaiah 43:15, 19, 25. Lawrence Tanabose is president of the Trans-Pacific Union Mission. Originally from the Solomon Islands, he now lives in Suva, Fiji.
This story is used with permission from Signs Publishing Company. More of these stories can be found in these collections: Ordinary People—Extraordinary God, Ordinary People—Faithful God, and Ordinary People—Generous God