In 1942, Navy Signalman 3rd Class Elgin Staples was serving on the USS Astoria as they supported the landings that were being made on Guadalcanal. They fought well into the night. A brilliant beam cut across the water, and a Japanese cruiser’s spotlight illuminated Staples and his crewmates. The fight was on. At approximately 2 a.m. on August 9th, one of Astoria's turrets was hit and exploded, flinging Staples and many others overboard. More than 200 men aboard died. Badly injured by shrapnel in one leg, Staples only managed to stay afloat thanks to his inflatable life belt.
In the early morning, after long hours of treading the Pacific’s dark waters, Staples was rescued. He began examining the life belt that had helped to save his life and realized with surprise that it had been manufactured by the Firestone plant in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. He also noticed an unusual set of numbers stamped on the belt.
He returned home and was telling his mother about the whole incident. She was particularly interested because she worked at the plant. Staples grabbed his belt to show her. In a later interview, he said, “She leaned forward and taking the rubber belt in her hands, she read the label. She had just heard the story and knew that in the darkness of that terrible night, it was this one piece of rubber that had saved my life. When she looked up at me, her mouth and her eyes were open wide with surprise. ‘Son, I’m an inspector at Firestone. This is my inspector number,’ she said, her voice hardly above a whisper. We stared at each other, too stunned to speak.”
Through this beautiful true story, I would like to tell you that whatever ocean shakes your child — mental, physical, emotional or spiritual health disorder, addictions or revolt — God hears your prayers. “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith…and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:16-18, ESV).
God’s arm will be able to reach your child wherever they are today. Don't stop praying, believing and hoping. Your prayers cross even oceans.
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.