September 2010 Newsletter

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Miracle On the Atlantic

“For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” Psalm 91:11 NIV.


(This story is included in Psalm 91: Real-Life Stories of God’s Shield of Protection.)

Sometimes when you find out about Psalm 91, it is for a special purpose. God knew that Psalm 91 would mean the difference between life and death for Pat and Del Hicks.

Del was a boat captain who often sailed along the Florida coast, but today, November 12, 1991, he was flying home from Chub Cay, Bahamas. Suddenly, 35 minutes into the 125-mile flight, the engines of the Piper Seneca didn’t sound right. Del leaned up to take a look at the radar screen in front of the pilot. They were about 50 miles east of Ft. Lauderdale and 25 miles from the island of Bimini when the twin-engine plane lost one engine. The pilot reacted by ordering luggage to be thrown out the exit door. When the second engine stopped, the tiny aircraft fell to the ocean.

The pilot had taken classes on emergency landings and remembered to put the tail down first and skid over the water. It floated just long enough for them to get out of the plane, slide down the wings, and into the waters of the Atlantic. They had about five minutes before it sank. The sudden crash prevented the pilot from sending a distress signal. And three hours later, the group realized the plane’s ELT (emergency locator transmitter) did not activate either.

Everyone (the four passengers and the pilot) was now bobbing in the salty, cold waters of the Atlantic. Del was the first out since he was closest to the door; then an attorney and his wife who had chartered the plane; their large cocker spaniel, Chaco; Dan Tuckfield; and last, the pilot. When they hit the water, they discovered a whole new set of problems. The attorney’s wife did not know how to swim, the dog went berserk, and as soon as they were in the water, all of their teeth went into a rhythmic chatter. It was about 55 degrees out that day.

Dan was an expert swimmer and succeeded in diving 20 feet down to where the plane was resting on the bottom of the ocean and was able to bring up a ten-foot canvas tarp, life vests, and his wet suit. Dan attached a line to each end of the tarp and then dove down and tied it to the tail of the plane. Then each person tied himself to the other end of the line, and the airplane held them secure against the tide. For four hours this kept them from being pulled further from the land that was 20 miles away. When no rescue planes came, they knew the emergency signal had not worked, so they decided to start swimming.

Del Hicks with Coast Guard
Del Hicks standing with two Coast Guard officers who helped rescue him from the Atlantic Ocean.

Since the attorney’s wife couldn’t swim, she was totally dependent on being held up by Del or Dan. Del supported her head and Dan held her legs while fighting the choppy waves with an exhausted dog that was trying to stay balanced on her floating torso. Her weight, along with the cold water and the two-foot waves that kept pounding against the swimmers, made it an almost impossible battle. So after two hours, they decided to tie themselves together and just tread water since they hadn’t made any distance by attempting to swim.
Del and his wife, Pat, had been  quoting the promises from Psalm 91 every day for months. For the first time he now realized what God had been preparing him for, so he began quoting those familiar verses.

Pat was doing her part when she realized Del was in trouble. She stood at the private airport watching the sky. She too was reminding God of Del’s faith and dependence on Him. At one point, she poured out her heart to God: “I may not know where Del is right now, but I know where he lives! He lives in the refuge of the Most High. Wherever he is right now, You are his God.” And Pat was not the only one praying. Pastors, friends, family, and church members were continually lifting Del up and reminding God of His promises. Pat knew they had a covenant with Almighty God, so she continued to pray in the Spirit and confess God’s promises until morning.

All night through the horrific ordeal of being lost at sea, Del held the attorney’s wife’s legs until his own leg cramps made it impossible for him to use the lower part of his body. It was all they could do to keep her head above the water. The next morning, her husband, the attorney, finally gave up and let himself slip to his death before anyone had a chance to reason with him. Hours later, the attorney’s wife gave up and died as well.

Del decided to take his faith to the next level and do exactly as the Scriptures commanded. He began to speak forth praises to God. With every hour, that is all he set his mind on.

Pat thought of their 38 years of marriage. Not even daring to try to sleep, she fought with the devil as he hit her mind with vain imaginations. “No!” Pat resisted. “I have a covenant. I will not fear! I will not be afraid of the terror by night!” The morning gave Pat hope. Surely, with all the searchers, they would find Del. There were three Coast Guard stations, sixteen private planes, and numerous other boats involved in what was the largest search-and-rescue effort in Florida’s history, but the day dragged on with no success. That many looking, and still no sign! What was a mind to do with that information? Pat continued to listen to a teaching tape on Psalm 91, turning it over and playing it time and again to keep her faith strong.

Del had never been so cold in his entire life. He could not remember what it felt like to be warm. Dan Tuckfield knew they would all die unless he could swim to land, so he told the pilot to keep an eye on Del and took off. However, it didn’t take long for the pilot and Del to become separated in the waves. Del drifted into unconsciousness, and Chaco, the dog he had been holding, was lost at sea.

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At six o’clock that next morning, Pat Hicks awoke with joy bursting from her heart. Pat recalled, “I came straight up out of my bed. A peace flooded me like I’d never felt. Del is going to be all right.” Through the night there had still been no news from any of the rescuers, yet Pat woke everyone in the house saying, “Let’s worship God. It’s over.”

Finally, at eight o’clock they called the Coast Guard, and the man said, “I’m sorry. I can’t talk right now. We have just found someone, and the helicopter is lifting off the pad.” Dan had swum throughout the night, and stumbled to shore the next morning at dawn. After being notified of the two survivors’ location, it was nine o’clock when the Coast Guard spotted Del. He was not moving and looked to be dead. It is the policy to leave the dead victims and pick up all survivors first, but the helicopter pilot prayed, “Lord, if he is alive, let him move something.” Even though Del was unconscious, it was at that moment that he lifted his arm. Instantly, they came in to make the pick up. When rescue workers could not bend his frozen legs to put him in a basket, they finally laid him across it and used it as a lift.

It was obvious that God’s angels were watching over Del, because there were no sharks in sight of his unconscious body. However, an hour later when the pilot was found and rescued alive, he had a different story—he had  been swimming for his life because he was surrounded by sharks.

Del was admitted to Jackson Memorial Hospital with a body temperature of only 83 degrees. He was placed on a machine to keep his heart and lungs going while they circulated his blood through a warmer. All day and night Pat stood over his bed waiting for him to wake up, but finally, the God of the Ninety-first Psalm kept His promise, and Del awoke to rejoice and give God the glory!

Peggy Joyce Ruth and her husband, Jack, are former pastors from Brownwood, Texas. Peggy is a popular conference speaker. Listen to Sid’s radio interview with Peggy Joyce Ruth here. 

Dear Mishpochah

This month marks the High Jewish holidays. Prior to Rosh Hashanah (Feast of Trumpets), the shofar (ram’s horn) is blown to call people to repent and warn that Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is coming. During the Rosh Hashanah synagogue service, the shofar is blown 100 times!

I believe God is blowing a supernatural shofar for Jewish people to repent to have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. That is why I am mailing my Godordained witness book, They Thought for Themselves, to two million Jewish households in North America!

I just returned from another bold Jewish evangelistic outreach in Detroit, Michigan. We advertised a “Lecture on the Supernatural” in the Detroit Jewish newspaper and rented a large room in the Sheraton Hotel. Over 200 people attended and the atmosphere was charged with an unusually high level of God’s presence for miracles. God did not disappoint.

After Rabbi Michael Zeitler blew the shofar, I began to give my lecture. Minutes later, people stood up and said they were instantly healed. One woman had a pain above her eye for over 40 years. The pain left when the shofar was blown! Over 30 people publicly proclaimed Jesus as their Messiah.

God showed off with such amazing power and miracles. But the greatest miracle was told to me the next day. A Christian had witnessed to his Jewish friend for many years. She never showed the slightest interest but at the meeting, this 82-year-old Jewish woman stood up to boldly proclaim Yeshua as her Messiah! Another Jewish woman who came from our newspaper ad was so hungry for God, she stood up twice!

God has called me as a voice crying in the wilderness to the Jewish community, “Repent, Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is at hand.” He is also calling me to wake up His sleeping giant, the church, to boldly proclaim the same message to their Jewish friends. The Jewish person in your life is not there by accident. Moishe Rosen, the founder of Jews for Jesus, was recently promoted to heaven. Just before he died, he wrote: “We stand on the edge of a breakthrough in Jewish evangelism.” His proclamation was released in a letter after his death. This is the same thing God has been saying to me. This is the moment of His mercy for Israel.

As good as friendship evangelism and “Bless Israel” rallies are, the hour is too late! Yom Kippur is coming and Israel is not saved. The last shofar is blowing. How will you respond?

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Peggy Joyce Ruth
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Miracle On the Atlantic
September 2010 Newsletter