Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Luke 21:36)
About ten years ago the resort paradise of Phuket, Thailand experienced the horror of a tsunami. What had been a tourist resort city of exceptional beauty and pleasure suddenly, without warning, was plunged into chaos and devastation as a wall of sea water swept inland. It was caused by a 9+ earthquake, and the resulting catastrophe was among the deadliest natural disasters in human history with at least 230,000 people killed or missing in 14 countries bordering the Indian ocean.
Today many are asleep, as if lying on the warm sands of a sun-soaked tropical beach, obvilous to a similar wall of disasters racing like a 600 mph tsunami toward the coast where they lay dozing. It canít happen here---not where I am.
---Not that the warning sirens havenít been wailing for some time now.
Itís been a decade ago that I posted this womanís powerful testimony, and today, dear Doves, I feel that we need to read it once again:The Story of Two Malaysian Sisters on holiday at Phuket
It is definitely a blessing that I can still write this e-mail and wish you all A Happy New Year. It has been almost 13 days since the bad episode that almost took my life. Ever since I returned, and since The Sun newspaper carried the news of our survival, I have been getting calls wishing for my speedy recovery. I have to admit that I have not been responding to any calls as I was/am still recovering. Most of all, I personally want to thank all of you for your encouragement. The whole experience has been shocking, but if anything good that has come out of it, is that my personal faith, walking with the Lord has definitely soared higher, and that He has spared my life to live again.I am better; my injuries are nothing, just some cuts and bruises on my head and leg through broken glass and the hard knock against the glass door. Unfortunately others have not been so blessed. The pictures in papers and on TV gave a clearer picture of the death and destruction ~ indeed all of it was not a movie, but it was the actual catastrophe which took much life away.....
Therefore, to those who have been contacting me, I am taking this opportunity to write and tell you my experience. You will also hear me mentioning about Jesus, and how miraculously HE saved me and my sister from death. Please note that this is my personal experience which I have encountered during the tragedy.
25TH DECEMBER 2004 - 8:00 p.m...
The night before the incident - around 8:00 p.m. - both my sister, June, and I were walking down the streets in Phuket, Thailand. I had this sudden urge to sing a Christian worship song which I have not sung for a long long time. So, as I was walking I sang the chorus over and over again. During our walk, my heart felt uneasy. I told my sister of my uneasiness ~ and she asked me to pray in tongues to the Lord. I did just that. Looking back and realizing the lyrics of the song, I now understand how merciful God is, because HE tried to prepare and warn me about the tragedy.
The song is entitled "STILL."
This is the Chorus:
WHEN THE OCEAN RISE AND THUNDER ROARS
I WILL SOAR WITH YOU ABOVE THE STORM
FATHER, YOU ARE KING OVER THE FLOOD
I WILL BE STILL and KNOW YOU ARE GOD.
26TH DECEMBER 6:00 AM...
We were supposed to check out from one hotel and check into another at 12:00 noon on 26th December 2004. There was no reason for us to wake up early since it was our much deserved holiday. But on that 26th December at 6:00 a.m. both my sister and I (who were sleeping on separate beds) felt as though someone was waking us up. I thought my sister woke me up to pray, as she normally would, but I thought, "can't be" as it was still so early. Little did I know, she felt it, too, and she had the same thought. I then opened my eyes and looked at her, and realized that it was not our own doing. We were not scared, and concluded that the Lord wanted us to wake up to pray. So we did just that, and later checked out - way ahead of time.
26th DECEMBER 2004 9:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m....We dragged our luggage and walked along the street towards the hotel. We arrived at the next hotel around 9:45 a.m. As soon as we handed our check-in slip to the receptionist, we saw people were running frantically away from the beach towards the hotel. The moment we turned our head and looked in front, we saw a huge 30 ft high wave come crushing through the glass door of the reception. It was so scary. As the height of the wave covered the blue sky, the whole area was darkened. We were inside the reception area - there was nowhere to run as the wave crashed mercilessly towards the glass door. We could hear loud noises from the shattered glass, and in a split second the reception area was filled with the sea water. The water rose to our necks and we were swept against another glass door. The glass door shattered and threw us out of the reception area. We both were clinging onto each other. It was as though the water swept right through us and we went under the water. My mind went blank; I gulped some sea water. That was all I could remember.
Somehow, somewhere in the middle of it, as everything happened so fast, we managed to cling onto a wooden pillar. At that precise moment, all we could do was to just pray. I left everything on earth at that point in time: my family, my love ones, my business, my friends, everything... There was nothing or no one I could cry to, except to GOD ~ and I did just that. I took out all the knowledge that I learned during my Bible Class called Deeper Life Seminar conducted by Pastor Vernon Falls. I remembered that he told us to pray in the Spirit even more when we are in trouble. That was the only knowledge that I had and could use then.
We were looking at the disaster, trying to comprehend it all. But it was total chaos. Cars were crashing through the buildings, gas tanks were leaking, roofs were tumbling down, people were screaming. We knew dead bodies were everywhere. All I did was pray and pray, and all I knew was to hold my sister tightly to me so that we would not be separated by the strong wave.
Approximately seven minutes later, the second, much stronger wave came and swept us again. I am really amazed that I didn't cry, nor had any panic attacks at the time. I still knew what to do. In fact, there was this Thai lady who was clinging onto my sister so hard because she could not swim. She was screaming away. In times like that, I don't know how I can still think. I raised my voice at the Thai lady, so that she could hear me and asked her to stop screaming ~ and not to panic. I told her to calm down and just pray. I saw how she held on to my sister, and I was worried for my sister in case her weight might have pushed my sister under the water. So I said, "Don't scream, don't panic, and don't hold her so tight. It is okay, everything is going to be fine." She calmed down immediately and followed exactly what we asked her to do.My sister has always been very strong in her devotion with the Lord. She knew that she had to share Jesus with the Thai lady and she asked her to accept the Lord as her Saviour. I know you will think it is crazy to do so in times like that, but as Christians we believe that eternal life begins when you receive Jesus and we believe that when you accept Christ as your Lord and Saviour, you automatically go to heaven when you die. And because of that, my sister knew our situation then was life and death and that she felt that if anything should happen to the Thai lady, at least she will end up in heaven. It was really amazing in a crisis like that, that my sister could lead the Thai lady into prayer to accept Christ. The Thai lady accepted Christ right there and then. And she even joined us in praying crying out to the Lord, commanding the sea water to calm down and "stop the next wave from coming, in Jesus name!"
Our prayer felt stronger when the three of us prayed in agreement. After the second wave, we took the risk to swim across to a staircase. When I was up at the balcony I began to think about this terrible disaster. Only then I started to cry, and the fear was overwhelming. There were about 20 foreigners at the balcony ~ everyone was in shock, people were crying, and blood was everywhere. My sister only suffered some bruises, while I had a deep cut on both my feet. It was painful, but the shock was worse - it seemed unbearable. I could not take my eyes away from the sea, worried that the third wave will attack us again.
At the balcony I was still holding on to a pole, while my sister went around praying for others, telling them that Jesus will keep us safe from harm. I knew she meant well, she didn't care about her own safety. She knew if anything happened to us we will go to heaven ~ BUT she was more concerned for the others. She also wanted them to go to heaven. She kept telling them about Jesus and she prayed for all of them. She prayed in Jesus' name to break and bind all the fear in them. I noticed some foreigners appreciated her and accepted Christ there and then, while others were calmer after her prayers for them.
She didn't want me to cry so she told me to keep praying and worshipping the Lord, and I did nothing but just that. Later when she was next to me, I then asked my sister in my chocking voice, "Can I sing a worship song"? She looked at me helplessly and said, "ok, you sing to the Lord"...Tears kept flowing down my cheeks. I sang, "When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with You above the storm; Father, You are King over the flood, I will be still and know you are God." Right after I sang that song, my sister looked at me and quickly said "That's right!! That is what God has been trying to tell us. He is the King over the flood and He is asking us to be still and know that He is GOD ~ and He will oversee the whole situation."
June continued saying, "God was trying to prepare us before the tragedy. That is why He gave you the song to sing last night, and that is why He woke us up earlier this morning, so that we could leave the room. If not we would have been trapped." I listened attentively, nodded my head, still crying and agreed that everything she said made sense. The sudden feeling of God's presence and His greatest love just flowed in my heart and immediately I had peace. And fear just left me. I felt the Lord was telling me, "Don't worry, everything is going to be over and the wave will not come near you anymore." True enough, there was no third wave. The sea water subsided, the rescue team began to search and rescued all of us.
The ambulance took me to the nearby hospital as I was badly cut and could not walk. There were neither after shocks during this time nor was there a third tidal wave. But the town was in chaos. The hospital that we were at was in chaos. They had too many other priorities so they could not treat me. But they did provide a bandage. We walked out of the hospital to find a pair of sandals as my sandals were swept away by the wave. As we were walking to look for a shop, my sister realized I could not walk and I was still bleeding due to the deep cuts. She asked me to wait for her, while she proceeded to look for a shop to get me a pair of sandals. While waiting for her, people were again seen running towards me. The police were making some announcement in their local language. I could not understand.
I thought I lost my sister, but thank God she came out looking for me, and we found each other in the midst of people running for their lives. We asked one of the locals, and we were told to run to the mountain as there could be an "after shock" and the possibility of even greater damage. I felt the tension again. We walked as fast as we could, but we had no idea where to. Later, we stopped a van and the driver dropped us near a hill top. When we reached the mountain we saw a bungalow belonging to a local. There were many foreigners seated along the roadside. June told me to find a quiet place so that we could pray. We found this little corner at the side of the bungalow. We sat down and started to pray.
The place we were resting overlooked the sea. By this time I must confess that hated the sea. I never thought such a beautiful and peaceful place could turn out to be so ugly, so fierce, and so merciless. I was angry at the sea ~ deep in me I knew it was the devil's work. The devil chooses the holiday season to kill much innocent life. I just could not leave my eyes from looking at the sea, crying and praying at the same time. I was feeling very insecure and was worried of another attack.
About 30 minutes later, the owner of the house came out and asked us if we wanted a drink. I knew we looked miserable and dirty in our wet shorts and t-shirts, dirty sand on our hair. We looked and felt like refugees. At that instant I really knew how it feels to be one. June had earlier said to me, "Should we need to notify anyone, it has to be someone who can pray and intercede for us. So I asked if I could call our Pastor, and she agreed. We both walked towards the house entrance and asked the owner's permission to use their phone. We were blessed that we still had our passports and money, as we had stuffed those in a waist pouch. We knew that we could pay the owner on the telephone charges made by us. I believe it was the favour from the Lord that the local owner not only allowed us to use their phone, they even offered us to take a rest in their place. They allowed us to shower, provided us with dry clothes, gave us food to eat, provided us with new blankets, and even gave us a mattress and pillow so we could be more comfortable. We were the only two among the many foreigners that were given such treatment by that owner. The rest of the victims were left waiting and camping along the roadside.
The two hours after shock never came and time passed. We were still waiting. When it was 6:00 p.m. the locals told us that the airport is open. June was feeling uneasy; she felt that we should leave the island. But we wanted to hear from the Lord. We knew God can give us instructions. So we prayed in agreement and prayed in tongues. Again I felt the Lord was saying something to me. I felt that the Lord was saying we would be flying off that very night . If I were to use my mind to analyse that, I knew it was impossible, as everything was in chaos, and we can't even call the airport. All the telephone lines were dead. In my mind, even if we were to reach the airport, it was near to the sea and, "What if another big wave hit?" We would be facing again what we faced earlier. Being up in the mountain is not the safest place to be either. Should there be an after shock, the mountain will likely give way and cause another major collapse. I obeyed what I felt the Lord said to me and told my sister. My sister then prayed to the Lord and said, "Lord, if it is Your will for us to leave the island tonight, Pastor Vernon will call the house. And that will be the confirmation" We continued praying.At 11:00 p.m., the phone rang and it was Pastor Vernon. June asked Pastor and told him about our plan. Pastor mentioned that during his prayer he also felt the Lord wanted us to leave the island as soon as possible. That was the confirmation and we asked the owner's son if he could take us to the airport immediately. We reached the airport at 12:30 a.m. There was only a handful of people. None of the victims were seen in the airport except June and I. Nobody knew what had happened to us and we proceeded to ask if there were any tickets to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There wasn't, obviously, but the lady told us there was a plane leaving to Bangkok in half an hour's time. We looked at each other ~ we were very surprised and quickly purchased two tickets to Bangkok. We arrived at Bangkok airport at 3:00 a.m. I noticed that the flight that we were in was a delayed flight from Phuket which was meant to fly off at 7:45 p.m. I had a look of disbelief and deep within me I knew that the Lord must have waited for us to board that plane. Again I was totally amazed with the Lord's timing and His plan for us to leave the island. Again I had learned another lesson from the Lord. When HE gives you instruction ~ don't think how, just do it! Everything is possible according to HIS will.
We both returned safely to Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12:00 p.m. on 27th December 2004. HE is truly an awesome GOD, and HE is alive, and HIS words are real. I don't regret going through the disaster, as it has made me a stronger person, and my faith in the Lord has definitely soared higher... higher than the tidal wave for sure.
Thank you all for your kind concerns, your sms and your calls. God Bless you always.
~ Chung Eng Lee
(Petaling Jaya, Malaysia).-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------(Psalm 46-2) Therefore will we not fear though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea
MARY E ADAMS