I am a Naval Officer serving in the Malaysian Navy. I would like to testify about the grace of our Lord Jesus, who saved me from death in the ocean off the northwest coast of Sabah, Malaysia.
On November 3, 1999, I was on board the KD Lembing naval ship traveling from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, to Sandakan. About five miles from the coast, I suddenly found myself in the tempestuous sea. It was about 11:00 p.m., and worse still, I was without a life jacket!
The water was cold and it was raining on and off. The wind was very strong and the waves were about three to four meters high. I could see the stern light of my ship a long distance away, and I knew that the crew on board would not be able to hear me if I yelled for help. Looking around, I saw a light from a beacon that was miles away on the mainland of Sabah.
For the next two hours or so, I tried to swim toward the beacon, but I made little progress because of the bad weather and strong side current. I was unable to swim very fast because of cramps in both my thighs. Also, I could feel jellyfish stinging me, which was extremely painful. In fact, all kinds of fish were hitting against my body. The feeling was extremely scary, but I tried my best to push them away and continue swimming. The area where I fell overboard was well known for sharks, and this knowledge was certainly not very comforting.
After about two hours, I realized that I could never reach the mainland. The waves were much bigger now, and because I was already exhausted, I felt like sinking into the sea. I started to pray, crying to the Lord for help. Each time I held my hands together to pray I would sink into the water. I was feeling very drowsy by then and didn't know what I was doing. I was becoming too exhausted to think of anything. These feelings got worse as the temperature of the water began to drop.
At one point, I wanted to give up the struggle. I held my head down in the water hoping to faint and drown. But I knew that by doing so I would be committing suicide, which is a mortal sin. I also thought of my father and some church members in Kampong Koh, and how heartbroken they would be if I died. I just could not accept the fact that they would be crying for me. So I kept on shouting "Hallelujah" and pressed on. I also remembered that the Lord Jesus once asked His disciples, "Why are you afraid of the storms and the sea, you men of little faith?"
Later, I don't know what happened, but I seemed to fall into a deep sleep or something.
The Next Day The next thing I knew, it was daybreak and the sun's rays were hurting my eyes. At first I could not even open them, and the salt water made them more painful. When at last I was able to open my eyes, I realized that I was in the open ocean. There was no land in sight. Despite this, I felt very grateful to the Lord for delivering me from danger and keeping me safe throughout the night.
I gathered strength and kept on swimming. Fish were jumping in front of my eyes. They were Tenggiris fish, with sharp teeth, and I was really terrified! I tried to avoid them and kept on swimming. Suddenly, I saw a fishing boat pass in front of me. I tried my very best to swim nearer to it, but none of the crew could see me or hear my cries for help. After chasing the boat, I was very, very exhausted. I was out of breath and very disappointed that all my struggle had been wasted.
After about two or three hours I saw an island very, very far away, but I did not think that I could reach it because it was so far away, about fifteen miles (25 km). Moreover, it was raining and the early morning temperature was very cold. Still, I didn't have any choice but to keep swimming in order to keep myself warm. I realized that I had blisters all over my face and body. The pain was excruciating. Due to excessive intake and exposure to salt water, my throat and nose were swollen and hurt terribly. My tongue also felt very rough, and I could not taste anything.
Finally, I made up my mind that if I wanted to survive I would have to swim toward the island. The journey took me from morning till evening. I swam against the waves, into the waves, and on top of the waves, trying to stay alive.
Hallelujah, all thanks be to our Most High God and Savior! I reached the island at about 6 p.m. I was extremely happy and thankful.
As I walked on the beach, I fell and stumbled along the way because I was very hungry and thirsty, as well as exhausted and shivering in the cold. I saw a wooden house with three men outside. They were staring at me, too shocked for words. I opened my mouth to ask for food and a place to sleep, but no sound came out. Only then did I realize that I couldn't speak, so I had to use gestures to make myself understood.
The men brought me to another location on the island by motorboat. It was the home of the Ketua Kampung (the village chief), who provided me with food and a place to sleep. Thank God, I was in good hands.
Giving Thanks After sleeping through the whole night like a log, I was taken to a small clinic on the island early the next morning. There I found out that I was on Banggi Island, near the Philippines border.
Later I went to the police station. After making a police report, I made a phone call to the naval authorities, and after about thirty minutes, a Nuri helicopter arrived to take me to the mainland of Sabah, to a town called Kudat. I was immediately admitted into the Kudat Hospital.
After about three hours in the hospital, I sneaked out and went to Kudat church to thank the Lord. It happened that Kudat church was having a spiritual meeting, and I took the opportunity to testify to the brethren there about how the Lord had saved me.
Looking back, I know that no one could have survived this whole ordeal at sea without divine help. In all, I was in the stormy sea for about twenty hours! It was impossible that I could swim the thirty miles (50 km) to Banggi Island without God's help. Although the Malaysian Navy had sent five naval warships, four Nuri helicopters, one seaplane, and two Marine-Police ships, they could not locate me.
It was undeniably the merciful and loving hand of the Lord that delivered me from the stormy sea and guided me to the island of Banggi, just as He had sent a fish to swallow Jonah and then vomit him onto the shore of Nineveh.
Hallelujah! May all praise and glory be to the Lord! Amen.