We live a little more than an hour’s drive from the Southern Alps. But a recent news story reminded me that it is a world away. Like the words to the famous song: ‘Welcome to our world, won’t you come on in, miracles they say, still happen now and then’. Well, this was a miracle …
Australian military officer and would-be mountaineer, Lieutenant Terry Harch, was attempting to climb Mt Aspiring, at a height of 3030 metres, in the middle of winter—something even experienced mountaineers do with great caution.
Newspaper reports described how he worked his way up until the last hut before the summit. Here, he left his heavier clothing to make a lighter dash for the top. It is not clear how, but somehow—in ascent or descent—disaster overtook him and he was disabled in ice and snow in sub-zero temperatures.
Providentially, he had a tracking device on him so he was able to send a distress signal. Amazingly, his signal was picked up in the United States and relayed back to New Zealand.
A team of four highly skilled rescuers prepared, but in the midst of a blizzard, the weather made it impossible to get onto the mountain.
Meanwhile, over 2000 metres up, the only thought was survival, hope and possibly prayer. Could he survive the inevitable wait for rescue and medical attention—clad as he was in his lighter clothing, in the unforgiving cold?
Meanwhile, a systematic search began. His car? Yes! It was still in the car park. Other possibilities were explored—but all to no avail. Days passed and the weather remained obstinately impossible. Hope was fading.
Then, a brief break in the weather. The team was ready and waiting. A skilled helicopter pilot was able to lower a search and rescue team near the site before the weather clamped down again. As the helicopter soared up the mountain, it reverberated with the words of a previously rescued mountaineer: ‘I always knew angels had wings, now I know they also have blades’.
Unbelievably, the pilot spotted a man, waving his arms, outside a makeshift snow cave. Terry, who had been on the mountain for a week, was found.
As dark descended, the rescue team were unable to leave the mountain. Now the real work of discovery and recovery began, and it required all the skills of the mountaineers to erect shelter. Paramedics were there to gently restore warmth, circulation, liquid, food and hope.
What did it take for these skilled, dedicated rescuers to save a life? It took accumulated years of training, planning and sacrificing—to be ready whenever the need arises.
Preparation must be made. The Bible says that God has been preparing to ‘rescue’ you from the mountain top from the very beginning: ‘But you were purchased with the precious blood of Christ the Messiah, like that of a sacrificial lamb without blemish or spot. It is true that he was chosen and ordained (destined and foreknown) before the foundation of the world’, says (1 Peter 1:19–20 Amplifed).
God is ready, waiting to respond to the beacon you send him. Are you ready to receive?
By Stan Harris (c) 'War Cry' magazine, 3 November 2018, p3 - You can read 'War Cry' at your nearest Salvation Army church or centre, or subscribe through Salvationist Resources.