Papua New Guinea | January 26

Danger at Sea

Apolosa and John

Children who live near the sea are taught young to swim and handle a boat.  

Apolosa [ah-poh-LOH-sah] and John often went fishing with their dads and uncles. Often they were told never to venture out to sea without an adult. But sometimes the boys sneaked away to go fishing alone. One day they learned the foolishness of disobedience.

Sneaking Away to Fish

John and Apolosa and four other friends decided to go fishing alone. The boys waited until their parents had left home before sneaking down to the sea. They borrowed two canoes and paddled out into the surf.  A light breeze whispered across the gentle waves as they made their way toward the reef where fishing was good. When they reached their destination, one boy stayed with the canoes while the other five boys dove into the water with fishing guns and darts to catch fish. When the boys caught a fish, they hung it on an underwater vine and dove again. They were having so much fun that they didn’t notice that the wind had picked up and heavy gray clouds had rolled in.  

The boy who had stayed with the canoes struggled to stay near his friends, but wind pushed the canoes beyond the reef and into the open sea. When the other boys had filled the vine with fish, they surfaced and called to their friend to come and help them pull the vine and their fish into the boat. But their friend—and the canoes—were gone. They searched the horizon and saw the canoes drifting out to sea. 

The boys were good swimmers, but they had been diving for three hours and were tired. They paddled to the nearby coral reef and rested in the shallow water. One of the boys saw a boat in the distance and shouted, but the person paddled away. 

The Long Swim

The boys realized that they were in serious trouble. It was midday, and no one knew where they were. They knew that the fish they had caught might attract sharks that hunted on the reef, so they let them go. The boys couldn’t stay where they were. They had to get off the reef. They decided to try to swim to an uninhabited island more than a mile away. It was closer than the mainland. Before they began swimming toward the island they asked God to keep them safe. Then they stepped off the reef and into the deep water. 

“We had been taught to swim in a tight circle and stay together,” John said. “We called to one another and kept our eyes on the island. And when we got tired, we’d float on our backs and let our muscles relax.”  


The boys swam and floated for hours, but still they hadn’t reached the island. Darkness was setting in when the boys saw a canoe coming toward them. They shouted and waved, and soon saw the boat coming toward them. 

The canoe was too small to carry the boys, so they grabbed onto the sides while the paddler struggled to row the canoe toward the mainland. “Your parents are searching for you,” the canoeist told the boys. As the canoe towing the boys neared the shore, the boys staggered onto the sand, exhausted, but safe. 

Soon word came that another man had found their friend and the canoes and had helped the boy paddle them back to shore. The boys were glad to be reunited with their parents, but they realized how easily their adventure could have ended differently.  

“We learned several lessons that day, Apolosa said. “We learned that our parents have rules to keep us safe. We realized that God heard our prayers and saved us, even though we had disobeyed. We’re all more serious about trusting and obeying God.”  

Boys and girls, when we obey our parents we’re learning to obey God, too. And when we obey God, we are a good example to our friends to help them want to follow Jesus, too.

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