According to NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), rip currents cause 46 deaths annually in the United States. So when Derek and Jessica Simmons saw a group of about nine struggling swimmers who had been carried away from shore by a rip current off Panama City Beach, FL, they knew something had to be done quickly to save them. They decided they needed to form a human chain to rescue the swimmers.
“The only thing that popped into my mind was if you’ve ever watched ants, when one of their babies is in trouble and can’t move, they start making a chain in order to pass them down the line to get them to safety,” Derek Simmons, of Panama City, told ABC News. “That’s the only thing I was thinking of, if we’re arm to arm, we can get them.”
The swimmers, who reportedly included two young boys and a group of adults – including the boys’ mother and other relatives – who swam out to rescue them, were caught in the water around 6:30 p.m., after the beach’s lifeguards had left for the day.
The human chain eventually grew to around 40 people, according to a police report obtained by ABC News. The report estimates the swimmers were stuck nearly 70 yards away from the shoreline.
The Simmons couple was at the end of the chain. They would swim out to the distressed swimmers and pull them back to the chain one by one. The members of the chain, anchored by people on shore, passed the rescued swimmers down the links of the chain to safety.
"I've never seen anything like it in my entire life," said Roberta Ursrey, who was rescued along with her family members. "Without them I wouldn't have my family." *
Something like this is seen when God’s people work together to fulfill the Great Commission.
People are drowning in sin. In fact, that’s a universal problem, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Unless we are rescued, we will perish in the waters of iniquity (Romans 6:23).
God, because of His great love for us, sent His Son, Jesus, to rescue us (John 3:16). In order to rescue us, Jesus had to give His life as payment for our sins on the cross (1 John 4:9-10). Because He did that for us, through Him we can have the forgiveness of our sins and receive the gift of eternal life (Ephesians 1:7; Romans 6:23). That is the Gospel, the “Good News.” That is the message that God has commissioned those who have embraced that same message, to share it with others who are drowning in sin, so that they can also be saved (see Matthew 28:18-20).
The Gospel (“Good News”) is that Jesus saves! God will save those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).
Jesus is the Savior! Let’s cling to Him for salvation through our trusting obedience. Then, let’s link together in a human chain to rescue others who are drowning in sin.
Won’t YOU become a part of the Chain of Salvation?
-- David A. Sargent
* Source: “Good Samaritans form human chain to rescue swimmers caught in rip current off Florida coast” by Katie Kindelan of ABC News. July 11, 2017.
David A. Sargent