Water was everywhere, frozen slabs of the Yellow China Sea all around us. We were again on a ship. A fire broke out on the front deck in a cargo of bamboo, but the pipes were frozen.
Mother held me tight. She had just put all the warm clothes on us five children a moment earlier since we were all freezing from the icy Mongolian winds. People were screaming all around us. Three missionary ladies who were traveling with us took my older siblings to the other end of the ship looking for any chance to escape the fire. No life-saving equipment could be found. One of them wrote later that they thought they might have to jump into the icy sea with one child each, hoping to save themselves and a child.
Suddenly the screaming calmed down. I heard my father’s familiar voice – but in a language I did not yet understand. He was praying in Chinese, asking God to save us all. My five-year-old brother, Samuel, had escaped the lady who was holding him. He returned to the cabin and on the way he met three men. One was dressed in white and had a cook’s cap on his head. He face shone like the sun. With him were two Chinese men in wet blue jackets and black trousers. Their clothes smelled of smoke. They too were smiling.
During the prayer these two men decided to face the danger of the fire. Like the friends of Daniel in the Old Testament, they knew that God could help them and save everyone on the ship. Together they lifted the heavy, burning piles of bamboo and threw them over the railing. Soon the crew joined them. The frozen water in the pipes had melted and the two men and the deck were doused with water. The danger was over.
Miraculously we were saved from the looming catastrophe of the gasoline and bombs in the hold.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.