I am sure you’ve seen the story from a couple of weeks back where a bunch of strangers on a crowded Florida beach joined together to form a human chain to reach and save some people who were drowning. It was a dramatic story that went viral, with a video and photos spreading around the world and shown on all the major news outlets. The chain included some local folks from the Birmingham area.
It all happened July 8 at Panama City Beach. A family of nine people got swept out by the undercurrents and began desperately crying for help. At first, people in the water and near the beach thought there may have been sharks, and moved out of the water. Then, when they realized it was a riptide situation, and knowing they didn’t have much time, a few innovative beachgoers sprang into action.
“We didn’t have a rope, we didn’t have anything,” said one of the rescuers, appearing on Good Morning America along with members of the family they rescued. “So the only thing that could come to my mind was arm-to-arm. I’m yelling, ‘Guys! Grab arms! Grab wrists! We’ve gotta make a long enough path to get them!’ “
The human chain grew to about 80 people and stretched out over 100 yards, according to the Panama City News Herald.”
“Y’all were my angels that day,” one of those rescued told their rescuers on Good Morning America. “Y’all were my angels that day that saved my family. Without y’all, we wouldn’t be here.”
Arm-to-arm. What an incredible picture of teamwork, of partnership, of individuals joining together with others to do what they could not do by themselves, to reach places they couldn’t reach alone. And what a picture of the ministry of the church.
We are in the business of saving those who are perishing. It’s not our job to judge why they got themselves into the mess they are in, but to save them from their desperate situation. We cannot do it alone, and were never intended to. It is the ministry of the church, together, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to reach our friends and neighbors and family members with the life-saving gospel and disciple them into spiritual maturity. In doing so, we get more arms who become links in the human chain to reach others.
So the invitation is, lock arms with us, and let’s be instruments of salvation for a world that is about to be dragged under, crying out for help. Let us pray, go, love, serve and share the good news of the gospel, together, and allow the Lord to use us to reach families in need of salvation, in our neighborhoods and around the world.