This story is one of great faith, survival, loss. and a God miracle. When an Australian teacher was caught up in the terrifying Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004, all she could do is to trust God to save her. Then she followed the path He set for her to South Africa, where he rewarded her with a new destiny and a new family.
She was brought up in a Christian home, and came to know God when she was twelve, but ran away from Him in her early twenties. It was a couple of decades later, while she was teaching in China, that she realised how self-centred she had become.
“My marriage was breaking up, and I just experienced terrible, terrible despair. And that’s when I recognised that I needed God’s leading, and God in my life.”
In 2004, along with her husband they went to Thailand for the Christmas holidays, a holiday that would be edged in her mind forever. On Boxing Day, they rented a canoe, and were two kilometres out to sea, on their way to climb some world famous cliffs, when they heard an almighty roar. “It was like a freight train coming,” she said. “We turned and looked out to the sea, and right on the horizon, we could see a giant wave. I had no idea what it was.”
Her husband, who had been a surfer, told her to get out of the canoe. Her first instinct was to try to ride the wave, but with the cliffs only 30 meters away, he knew they’d have to dive under it. “If I’d tried to stay on top, I would have been smashed into the cliff-face, and I just couldn’t have survived.”
Most people think a tsunami is just one wave, but it’s actually a series of waves, travelling at up to 600 kilometres per hour. Miraculously, the next wave swept her behind an outcrop of rock, which protected her. “The Bible says he will hide me in the cleft of the rock, and that’s really what happened to me.”
When she couldn’t see any more waves, she tried to swim back the way they’d come, but the current carried her further out to sea. She’d nearly arrived at the beach they’d hoped to visit, when she saw the next great wave gathering, carrying coral up to the surface.
“I realised that if I was taken in by the next wave, it would just tear me apart over the coral. So I just put my hand up high, in the water, like you do for a lifesaver. And I just shouted out at the top of my voice, oh God, save me.”
The wave lifted her over the coral, and dumped her onto the beach. She was soon rescued, and flown to hospital by helicopter. Though her body was covered in cuts, she had no serious injuries, and didn’t even need stitches.
Tragically two days later, they found her husband’s body. She took comfort in trauma counseling in Australia, and in the support of her Christian friends in China. But most of all, she took comfort in knowing that God had a purpose for her life, and He had saved her for a reason.
Before the tsunami, God had been telling her to move to South Africa, and help orphans there. She remained in China for another two and a half years, but eventually she knew it was time to move on.
And in South Africa, God blessed her with a foster baby daughter. She is four-years-old and had full blown aids when they first met, but is now a strong little girl.
Though she lost her husband, she’s extremely grateful that God gave her a new family. “God can do wonderful things in your life, in everyone’s life,” she said, “if only we will ask Him for forgiveness, and then ask Him to lead us into that perfect plan that He has for us.”
“When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.” – Exodus 33:22 NIV