Our evangelism teams preach the Gospel in many ways: from the tops of walls to inside elevators; at bus stops, inside restaurants, outside beer gardens, in front of the Department of Motor Vehicles and outside Social Security offices. “Why?” some would ask. In answer to that question, and in response to a few insults directed at me after posting two articles called “The Shaadaap! Game” and “Jerky Evangelism,” here’s my response.
A man was out sailing just off the coast of the Big Island when he saw what appeared to be a woman swimming next to her capsized catamaran.
“Are you okay?” he shouted as he slowly sailed by.
“I’m good,” she replied.
“You sure?” he asked again.
“I’m very good!” she assured him.
Having been a lifeguard for many years in Hawaii, he was not convinced. He noticed that she was not really swimming, but just trying to keep her head above water. He saw the strain on her face and the slight panic in her eyes. Anchoring his boat, the lifeguard dove in and made his way toward the oblivious—or self-deceived—woman. “I’m coming to save you,” he called out between the swells.
“I—told—you—I’m—good,” she sputtered, inhaling a mouthful of water.
“Don’t worry,” the lifeguard shouted, “I’m almost there.” He swam furiously, knowing there wasn’t much time before she disappeared beneath the waves.
He reached out to grab her arm but the excited woman batted it away. As he grabbed her roughly with both hands, she escaped his grip, flailed, then slapped at him. Tugging at her hair, he yanked once, pulling her toward him. He put her in a headlock, then tried pulling her to his vessel while swimming on his back.
The drowning woman continued to kick and scream; she hit and clawed in her fury, yet the lifeguard held on even more tightly. He still had her by the throat with one arm, the other holding her hair tightly.
He kicked and kicked and kicked until he pulled her—quite violently— into his craft. She then gouged at his eyes and bit him so hard he had to let go because of the pain.
Under the water she disappeared.
A fishing boat stopped near the sailboat to take in the drama. The fishermen watched the action play out and the rough treatment of the woman as the lifeguard struggled to save her. They watched the rescue, then the death.
After it was over, the crew heaped criticism after criticism upon the lifeguard. “You could have done that a whole lot better,” one suggested.
Another offered, “If you had been swimming alongside her until you got to know her better, she might have listened to you. Then you would have saved her.”
A pleasure cruiser full of partiers pulled up alongside the sailboat. It’s drunken clients, senseless and irrational also heaped scorn upon the lifeguard. “You were a real jerk the way you tried to save that lady,” one scolded.
“You were so rude!” another complained. “You should have just let her have her have own personal space.”
The lifeguard listened to everything the fishermen and drunkards said; he thoughtfully considered whether they indeed had a valid point. Then finally, exasperated, he uttered his defense: “I’m a lifeguard. I do what I can to save people.”