A wonderful rescue

The story of the rescue of 4 Colombian children lost in the Amazonian rainforest is a welcome good news story. On 1 May the children and their mother were passengers in a small Cessna 206 plane flying from a jungle area known as Araracuara to the town of San Jose del Guaviare. Just minutes after taking off the pilot reported engine problems and soon the plane crashed in thick jungle killing the pilot, an indigenous leader and the children’s mother. Amazingly the 4 children, aged 13, 9, 4 and 12 months, who are from the Huitoto indigenous group, survived and began wandering alone in the jungle. It is a place of many dangers from snakes, jaguars, and armed drugs gangs. Ironically, the reason their mother was taking them from their isolated jungle community was that the family planned to resettle in the city where the guerrillas have less control.

As soon as it was realised that the children had survived the crash, a massive search was launched to find them involving 160 soldiers and 70 indigenous people with intimate knowledge of the jungle. Rescuers covered more than 1,650 square miles. Leaflets with survival tips were dropped and food parcels and bottled water. The rescuers also broadcast a recorded message from the children’s grandmother, who had brought them up, urging them not to move. On 9 June, 40 days after the crash, the children were found about 3 miles from the crash site. Their family and rescuers and the whole nation were overjoyed.

The 13-year-old sister, Lesly, kept her younger siblings safe. Huitoto children are taught how to survive in the jungle and learn hunting, fishing, and gathering skills. As the eldest child Lesly was used to looking after the other three when their mother was at work, and this helped them survive in the jungle. Lesly found some cassava flour in the plane and fed her siblings with it as well as any fruit she found in the jungle. She knew what was safe to eat. She saved their lives until the rescuers found them.

The story of the Bible is about the greatest rescue ever. The people of God’s world are in great danger because we are living in rebellion against God. Our greatest need is to be reconciled to God and to know the forgiveness of our sins. Out of his great love God sent his Son, Jesus, to rescue us by dying to pay the debt of our sins. As one hymn says, “Jesus sought me when a stranger wandering from the fold of God, he to rescue me from danger interposed his precious blood.”

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