A pastor tells of an incredible answer to prayer during a thunderstorm in East Timor.
Pastor Inaciu da Kosta got up early in the morning for a long walk on the island of East Timor.
He had to travel 30 miles (50 kilometers) from his home in the town of Lospalos and up a mountain to the village of Luro, where he needed to speak with a missionary in the village.
Inaciu ate a breakfast of rice and leafy green vegetables prepared by his wife. Then he packed his Bible and umbrella. Rain fell often and unexpectedly on this tropical island north of Australia, so it was a good idea to carry an umbrella. Inaciu didn’t own a car or a motorcycle, so he went by foot.
Inaciu stopped at the homes of several church members along the road, and he prayed and read the Bible with them. Not many Adventists lived in East Timor, so he didn’t have many places to stop. But the visits did slow him down, so he was only about two-thirds of the way to the village when night fell.
Inaciu looked at the star-lit sky and wondered what to do. He still had to walk 15 miles (25 kilometers) through a thick jungle and up a mountain to reach the village. He was hungry because he hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast. He also hadn’t brought a flashlight.
Then it started to rain. Inaciu opened his umbrella and said to himself, “If I go back home, I’ll have to walk 15 miles, and if I go forward, I’ll also have to walk 15 miles.”
Inaciu prayed for God to guide him. After praying, he realized that if he returned home, he’d have to make the same long trip again in the morning. He decided to press ahead to the village.
The rain fell lightly at first. But as Inaciu made his way up the mountain, it began to pour. Lightning flashed, and thunder crashed. After walking about 6 miles (9 kilometers), Inaciu found himself deep in the jungle. Amid the pounding rain and angry thunder, he heard the roar of something else. He listened carefully. It was the sound of a rushing river. But he could not see anything in the dark. Fear swept over him.
He said to himself, “My family doesn’t know the route that I am taking to the village. If I fall into the river, it could sweep me to the ocean and I could drown.”
He prayed, “God, if You are willing, please help me get to the village.”
Inaciu stood still for about five minutes, wondering what to do. Then bright lightning flashed, and he caught a glimpse of the wide river ahead.
Inaciu prayed again. “God, if You are willing, please help me get to the village,” he said. “Make the lightning last longer.”
A moment later, lightning streaked across the night sky, and Inaciu saw the river clearly before him. To his surprise, the lightning didn’t flicker out but kept on shining like the sun, making the jungle as bright as day.
He saw a number of logs — fallen trees — lying scattered in the river. He ran down to the water’s edge and jumped from log to the next until he crossed the river. When he reached the other side, the lightning disappeared with an enormous boom of thunder. The lightning had illuminated the river for two whole minutes.
Inaciu immediately thanked God for the miracle. “Thank you, God, for leading me across the river,” he said.
Three hours later, at midnight, he arrived in the village. The missionary was sound asleep when Inaciu knocked on his door.
“How is it that you just arrived now?” the missionary asked with astonishment. “It’s late!”
Inaciu told him the story about the miraculous lightning. The two men prayed together and thanked God for the safe trip.
Inaciu da Kosta remembers the lightning from one rainy night. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)
This story happened in 2008. Inaciu da Kosta now serves as executive secretary of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in East Timor.
Part of a 2015 Thirteenth Sabbath Offering helped build the first Seventh-day Adventist school in East Timor’s capital, Dili. Only 500 Adventists live on the island of 1.2 million people, and the school is playing an important role in sharing Jesus.