Saved from a dangerous current

On a beautiful summer day in 1979, my wife and I took our young family to a favorite spot on the Santiam River in Oregon for an afternoon of swimming and playing in the water. When we arrived, we were surprised to find the river was flowing very rapidly. In fact, there were newly posted County Park Service signs warning that the river had developed an unusually strong water flow due to a large snowmelt. The signs warned people to use only a specially roped-off swimming area near the riverbank. The area was designed to keep swimmers away from the dangerous river currents, as they led to a large waterfall not far downriver. After some discussion, my wife and I felt our family would be safe as long as we stayed within the designated area and kept our children between us at all times while in the water.

We had a wonderful time for about an hour. Then, with our daughter resting safely on the riverbank, my wife and I continued playing with our four-year-old son. He was standing between us in knee-deep water, as he had not yet learned to swim. At one point, my wife and I inadvertently looked away from our son. Neither of us realized that the other was not watching him. Without warning, he accidentally slipped underwater without a sound. In a matter of seconds, he was pulled by an unseen current under the rope and out toward the center of the fast-moving river.

By the time I realized what had happened, my son was already out of my reach, floating face up just a few inches underwater and rapidly being pulled downriver. I could see his eyes wide open with fear, and bubbles coming from his nostrils. The situation was terrifying. I immediately dove under the ropes to try and save him while my wife stayed with our daughter. Despite swimming as fast as I could, I was unable to catch up to him. He was being drawn inexorably toward the waterfall. Panic gripped me. As I quickly reached out to God in prayer, my first thought was the desperate yearning of a fearful father: “Please, God, save my son!”

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Testimony of Healing
Recurring pain ceases
December 9, 2013

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