The following is an extract from a story in the New York Times. It relates to the recent earthquake and the subsequent tsunami in Samoa.
Opi starts every morning by walking through the village. “The quake hit as I was stretching at the gas [petrol] station,” he said. “I warned Noelle to lock up and leave as soon as she could. I knew there would be big waves because the quake shook for a good five to six minutes.” As he left Noelle’s store, he waved to four old women weaving mats in a small fale — a Samoan thatched-roof shelter — across the street. “Go home!” he told them. “There’s going to be a wave coming soon.” But the old women just laughed and called out: “Have faith, Opi! God is good!”
When he got up to his house, he heard a crash, as if something had fallen from the sky. Looking down toward the village, he saw the gigantic wave advancing onto the land. He ran toward the fale to get to the four women. But as he passed the dispensary, he realized how strong the wave was, and knew that no matter how fast he ran, they would not be there. “Still, I couldn’t stop running,” Opi said. “I just wanted to see them once more”. Before he even reached the village, the water was already up to his waist. “I knew the fate of those women,” he said. “I just wish I could have done something more. I could have gone over to them and taken them away from the fale with me in the first place. But the waves hit so fast. One minute I was waving at those old women and the next minute, they were gone.”
There are several lessons here – for believers and unbelievers alike. A lesson for unbelievers - a warning was given but ignored. They were “lost”. As John the Baptist said to some who came to be baptized in Matthew 3:7, “who has forewarned you to flee from the coming wrath?”
A lesson for believers - we have our responsibility to care for ourselves. Christians sometimes sit back and say the Lord will do this or that, when in fact the Lord expects them to do something. Basically, the Lord does those things that are beyond us. But He does not relieve us of our responsibilities; we are to work so as to provide things honest for ourselves and our families. It is perfectly right to pray that this person or that person may come to know Christ as their saviour and Lord. But we must be prepared to be a part of the solution, and serve them or speak to them. The apostle Paul told Timothy what to take as a remedy for his stomach’s sake, and his frequent illnesses. He was to do something about it, not just pray.
So these four ladies sat back and just said “God is good”. He was good – he gave them a warning!
MM October 2009