The SS Ben Lomond, a British merchant ship, was intercepted and torpedoed by a German U-172 some 750 miles off the coast of Africa in November 1942.
As the ship was sinking, Poon Lim, a Chinese sailor, took a life jacket and jumped overboard before the ship’s boilers exploded. He was in the water for approximately two hours before he found an eight foot wooden raft and climbed into it. The raft had tins of biscuits, a 40 litre can of water and a torch.
It was clear the food and water wouldn’t last long so he used the life jacket to catch rain water. He removed a wire from the torch and made a fish hook and used some hemp rope for the fishing line. He dug a nail out of the wooden raft and made a hook to catch larger fish.
He fashioned a knife from a biscuit tin to cut open the fish he caught. He dried the fish over a hemp line across the raft. One day a large storm fouled his water and spoiled the fish. Poon became very dehydrated and weak but managed to catch a bird and drank its blood to survive.
Knowing he needed to exercise, he swam most days tied to the raft. When he saw sharks he didn’t swim. He used scraps of a bird as bait, braided the line to make it stronger and protected his hands by wrapping them in canvas. He caught a small shark. Poon cut open the shark and drank its blood from its liver – the only fluid he had because it hadn’t rained for days. He cut slices from the shark and left them to dry.
Eventually, after 133 days in the raft, in April 1943, Poon Lim neared land and three Brazilian fishermen rescued him. During his ordeal, Poon Lim had lost 9 kg [20 lbs] but was able to walk unaided when rescued.
Lessons for Christians from a Chinese sailor and his ordeal.
We live in a hostile world.
We wrestle against ‘principalities and powers’.
We live in constant danger.
We face storms in life.
We face ‘sharks’ that try to destroy our Christian witness.
The devil tries to rob us of our ‘food’ and ‘water’ and ‘exercise’.
But we are NOT defeated.
We are ‘more than conquerors’.
We are guaranteed victory over the devil and all his devices
when we allow our Lord His rightful place on the throne.
He will direct our thoughts and actions,
strengthen us and enable us to overcome.
But we have a responsibility.
We need to keep ourselves in spiritual trim.
We MUST take the nourishment of ‘food and water’:
God’s Word and obedience to His will.
We MUST exercise in prayer.
These are our lifeline, without which we are helpless.
Sometimes, as was Poon Lim, we might be isolated. How important at such times to have the Word safely stored in our minds and our hearts!
Would I survive 133 days of isolation in danger?
Certainly not without spiritual food, drink and exercise.