Miraculous Escape from Shipwreck
Adapted from Holy Spirit Monthly—Issue 423
Hallelujah, in the name of Jesus Christ, I bear this testimony.
On March 19, 2012, at 2:42 a.m., gravel ship Haixiang 8 set off towards
Hualien Harbor, carrying about 4700 tons of earth and a total of fifteen
I worked as a helmsman on board. That night, I was on duty from 12:00
midnight to 4:00 a.m. At about 3:45 a.m., the next crew member (who
happened to be my cousin) took over. Before I handed over my shift
duties, the captain specifically reminded me to pay attention to the
tilt angle on the right side of the ship.
After returning to the bedroom from the cockpit, I prayed and went to
bed. Somehow I was filled with a foreboding and dared not fall asleep.
Unexpectedly, about half an hour later, I heard the captain's
announcement: "Attention all crew, wear your life jackets and
report to the cockpit to receive further instructions!” The captain also
told my cousin to rush to every bedroom to wake up all the crew members.
The crew bedrooms were two to four floors below deck, which meant all
the members were in great danger.
When I heard the radio announcement, I knew that disaster had struck. In
panic, I hurriedly put on my diving suit, stuffed some important
documents and a bottle of mineral water into my pockets, and pulled on
the life jacket as I ran upstairs. It was then about 4:45 a.m., and the
ship had already tilted fifteen degrees to the right. Sensing the
critical situation, the captain had already alerted the Port Authority
Coast Guard to summon help.
My cousin, who had experienced shipwreck before, immediately ordered us
to head to the stern (the rear part of the ship) to escape. Seeing that
the ship was about to capsize, we held tight to the barrier cables and
swayed with the vessel. The ship was traveling at seven knots, and it
went bow first into the water. The hull of the ship looked as though it
would also sink in a mere six seconds. Everything was a stunning repeat
of the sinking of the legendary Titanic, except that our ship was going
under at an alarming speed.
Just before the ship sank, my cousin shouted: "Jump! Jump!"
and disappeared as he leapt into the water. As I was about to jump, the
front cable came loose and dangled down. I hesitated and waited for the
cable to detach completely for fear of being entangled by the cable.
Once the cable was completely detached, I released my grip on it and
jumped into the water shouting: "Hallelujah, Lord! Save me!"
When I entered the water, a powerful wave of water swept me far away
from the sinking bow of the ship. Before I knew it, I was just next to
my cousin. When I touched his shoulder, he turned around and was shocked
to see me. He said: "Are you such a good swimmer you could catch up
with me so quickly?!” My cousin had been swimming desperately away from
the ship since hitting the water.
As seamen, we had often heard veterans explain how a sinking ship would
create a whirlpool effect and suck everything down with it in a spiral
as it sinks into the ocean. That was why everyone had been desperately
swimming, trying to get as far away from the sinking ship as possible.
As my cousin and I turned around, we saw the lights of the sinking ship
disappear. Almost like a movie scene, the whole sea was suddenly plunged
into darkness, eerie silence punctuated only by the sound of waves,
gusts of wind, interspersed with our shipmates’ sorrowful shouts for
The temperature of the water was about ten degrees Celsius; the sea
waves were about four to six meters high (very rough conditions) while
the wind speed was about sixty to seventy kilometers per hour
(equivalent to a gale). The water felt bitterly cold. My cousin and I
took out the distress lights from our life jackets and waved them about,
hoping to attract attention to ourselves. Not too far away, we spotted
some other distress signals, probably from some of our shipmates who
were also floating in the sea, struggling to survive while waiting to be
rescued. Gradually, these intermittent shrill cries for help became
softer. Then it was all quiet, and we could only hear the sound of the
waves and the raging winds. My cousin muttered: “Dead!” At this point, I
was both sad and terrified, and I felt myself trembling helplessly.
My cousin and I were wearing wetsuits, anti-freeze caps and lifejackets,
and all these had temporarily kept us warm. We redoubled our efforts to
swim farther away from the shipwreck site, all the while praying, “Dear
Lord, save us!” I thought to myself, “I have fallen so short of the
glory of God, how can I face Him now?” I pleaded in my heart, “Dear
Lord, give me one more chance, let me do more work for You!” I started
to sing the hymn "Jesus Loves Me" over and over, alternating
it with prayers of supplication as I swam along. I do not remember now
how long this went on.
I was so cold and scared; I could feel my lips trembling and my teeth
rattling. So I shouted out the hymn "Lead me, lead me, Savior, lead
me, lest I stray; gently down the stream of time…Lead me, Savior, all
Then, something miraculous happened—a strong wave swept toward us a
plank of wood about forty-five centimeter wide, two hundred fifty
centimeter long, and about five centimeter thick. Since I had no energy
left to swim towards it, I asked my cousin to swim and grab the piece of
wood. Both of us then gripped the plank on both sides with our left
arms. This helped us to stay afloat without too much effort, and we
could finally relax a little. We continued to pray and sing hymns, and,
in our hearts, we were jumping for joy and thankfulness to the Lord
About fifteen minutes later, another wave swept over an identical plank
of wood, and once again, my cousin retrieved the plank, and we used two
instead of one piece of wood for improved stability. At that moment, our
distress lights stopped working. We were not sure how long we would have
to wait before someone discovered us. So to conserve energy, we did not
attempt to swim anymore, but simply let our bodies float in the water,
swaying with the waves.
Again I prayed earnestly: “Dear Lord, save us, save us!” I thought of
the divine work to be done. Then, after about twenty minutes, another
wave brought along a long bench, floating inverted with its legs in the
air. Since it was not far from us, I urged my cousin to go grab it for
us. When we put the two wooden planks perpendicular to the long
bench in between the legs of the bench, the bench suddenly flipped into
an upright position. Amazingly, the two planks remained firmly in
place. We quickly "sat" astride the bench. In this way, though
our bodies were still immersed in water, our heads were above water and
we did not have to risk swallowing more seawater.
After more than an hour, a shimmer of light appeared in the horizon, and
the sky started to brighten. We could see the surroundings, and saw that
the sea was a dense mass of grease. My cousin said: "When a ship
sinks, all the oil and grease will surface to the top." Indeed,
this was true for us; we let out a sigh of shock when we saw that our
hands and necks were all covered with black oil.
Soon, the sky had completely brightened. Suddenly we saw a freighter in
front of us—Asia Cement No. 3 had come to render help after the distress
signals were dispatched. Hope gave us new strength—we waved, shouted for
help, and swam energetically towards the freighter. Finally, the crew
aboard Asia Cement No. 3 spotted us and threw us life buoys. But the
current was too strong, and we could not grab hold of the life buoys.
Asia Cement No. 3 then tried to approach us stern side, but the rotation
of the rear blades formed strong currents and carried us even farther
away from the freight. However, this also meant that the black oil was
effectively dispersed from the water around us. Once the freighter
realized this difficulty, it decided to remain stationary. Thank God, at
this time, although we were still bobbing in the water, the sea around
us had been rid of the black oil and grease, so we did not inhale any
more toxic fumes.
Finally, at 6:13 a.m., the coast guard rescued my cousin and me. Our
hearts were full of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. As it turned
out, we were the first crew members to be rescued. The Lord Jesus had
preserved us, so we could respond to the questions posed by the
examining doctors. We went through X-rays, electrocardiogram, blood
tests, and blood pressure monitoring. The blood pressure actually soared
to two hundred millimeter mercury, but the doctor reassured us and said
it was due to the state of fear we had been in, so there was nothing to
worry about. After a series of thorough checks, we were diagnosed with
As for the other crew members, our captain died from hypothermia, while
a few of our colleagues who were rescued had to be treated in the
intensive care unit. The final tally revealed that, out of fifteen crew
members, seven were rescued, six died, and two were still missing.
During our hospitalization, my cousin and I received much care and
prayer support from Zheng Bin church. May the Lord Jesus remember their
love. I also thank the Lord for somehow arranging for my cousin to be on
the same ship with me, for the instruction to run to the stern during
the emergency and for providing me with earlier opportunities to work at
sea. The latter had taught me to take precautionary measures during
shipwrecks, e.g. putting on a wetsuit, taking along mineral water, and
keeping a life jacket by my bed so that it would be ready to be grabbed
at a moment’s notice.
While we were waiting to be rescued, my cousin and I had drunk mineral
water to replenish water in our body. To keep ourselves calm, we sang
and prayed together, relying on the promise that God would deliver us.
This greatly helped us to overcome the extreme cold and fear and to
survive the dark and long night.
Praise the Lord! I was sixty-two years old when the disaster struck, and
without God’s love and care, I could not have taken only one minute to
wear the diving suit, don the lifejacket, and run to the cockpit. It
took less than five minutes for the ship to tilt from ten to fifteen
degrees, and then to forty-five degrees. In that moment of life and
death, God enabled me to calmly see the loosening cable and prevented me
from being entangled—what amazing grace!
“But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.
Praise the Lord!" (Ps 115:18)
May all glory and honor be unto our Lord and Savior. Amen!