Sermon Illustrations

Don’t ever tell John “Tex” Teixeria that prayer doesn’t work.

Tex spent his life as a fisherman in the channels of the Hawaiian Islands. On a deceptively calm night in 1967, Tex guided his 40-foot fishing boat toward the beach of an otherwise inaccessible canyon on the north side of Molokai. He had agreed to allow some friends to go ashore, using the fishing vessel’s small skiff, for some wild pig hunting while he and the rest of the crew did some night fishing.

Returning to the rendezvous spot early the next morning, the men found that conditions had changed. Huge waves ripped through the channel and crashed into the boat, nearly capsizing it and (unbeknownst to the crew) fatally weakening it.

The fate of the small skiff full of hunters waiting on the shoreline was immediately apparent. Its bottom had been torn off by the rugged lava rocks.

With great difficulty, a tow line was brought to the shivering hunters who, while holding on to inflated plastic tarps and an ice chest filled with their kill, were dragged by the boat’s winch through the surf to the vessel. When all the men were safely on board, the huge craft gunned away from the island.

Exhausted after fishing all night and the adventure of the morning, Tex went below deck to sleep. A few hours later he was awakened by his panicked friends. The boat was sinking.

By the time Tex got to the deck, there was nothing he could do except order everyone into the water. Without the skiff, the eight men on board the fishing vessel had only life jackets and inner tubes to keep them afloat.

Bobbing in the water, Tex remembered the ice chests full of freshly slaughtered game and fish. He knew that sharks would be in the area within minutes, so he encouraged the men to paddle as fast as they could away from the sunken boat.

All eight of the men knew they were in big trouble. The currents in the channel were sweeping them into the open ocean. But as night approached it seemed that their salvation was near. Bouncing up and down in the inky sea, the men thought they could make out the lights of a boat in the distance. Two of the men decided to swim toward the lights.

It turned out that they weren’t boat lights at all. They were the airplane warning lights on the top of Koko Head, a far-distant mountain.

The two men were never seen again.

By morning the situation had worsened. One of the inner tubes was losing air. The men had no food or water. The planes that passed overhead could not see them bobbing in the middle of the Pacific.

It was then that Tex decided to call a prayer meeting. No one objected. With all hope gone, the group of tough, self-sufficient sailors had only one place to turn. They huddled together in their life jackets and inner tubes and, with loud cries, pleaded for God to intervene.

The moment the last man finished his prayer, Tex looked up. “A stick!” he cried out.

The stick was standing vertically out of the water. It appeared to be a fishing buoy or a marker of some kind. If they could get to it, Tex reasoned, someone might come along to check it and find them. At the very least, it might...

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