The Story of His Church List

Sailing For Rome

On a ship leaving Caesarea was Paul, the prisoner. As the shore faded in the distance, Paul saw for the last time the land that is dear to the heart of every Jew. Never again would he return to the country of Judea.

Paul was not the only prisoner on board. At Caesarea he and several others had been given over to the Roman 

captain Julius. Festus ordered Julius and his men to take the prisoners safely to Rome and deliver them to Caesar.

Probably the Christians at Caesarea gathered at the seashore to say goodbye to their beloved friend, and no doubt many of them wept as they saw Paul in chains.

Paul was not the only Christian among the passengers. Two of his friends, Doctor Luke and Aristarchus, went along.

The next day the ship stopped at Sidon. By this time Paul had won the respect of the Roman officer and was given permission to go ashore to visit his friends. Paul, Luke, Aristarchus, and a soldier guard had time for a short visit with the Christians at Sidon.

The ship docked at Myra, its last stop. The Roman captain found another ship ready to sail for Italy. He had the soldiers and their prisoners board this ship. It set sail and soon they were back in the great Mediterranean Sea.

Sailing was not good, for the winds were strong and from the wrong direction. No wonder the passengers were glad when they stopped at the harbor Fair Havens on the island of Crete.

Winter was coming on and sailing was already dangerous. But the captain was eager to get back to Rome, and the owner of the ship was willing to sail on.

Paul told the owner and the captain, "Sirs, this will be a dangerous voyage. You will cause much injury and damage if we sail now."

Because Fair Havens was not a good place to spend the winter, the owner decided to go farther south before stopping for the winter. The ship glided out of the harbor and into the broad sea.

They had not gone far when a tempestuous wind swept down upon them. Now there was no turning back and they could not go ahead. How the angry waves tossed the ship! They did not know how soon the ship might be torn to pieces. The captain and the owner of the ship remembered Paul's advice.

First they tried to lighten the ship by throwing things overboard. Then they waited anxiously for the storm to pass, but it raged on. They could not see the sun by day or the stars by night.

One morning Paul called everyone to him. Above the roar of the storm he told them, "Sirs, if you had listened to me, this would not have happened. But be of good cheer; even though we shall lose the ship, no one will lose his life. Last night an angel of the God I serve told me this."

Still the storm did not lessen. The people were afraid they would be drowned. Two weeks passed. Then one night the sailors discovered they were nearing land. No one knew where they were, since they had drifted on the waves for many days. They did not even know whether they were nearing a rocky coast or a sandy beach. For fear of being wrecked on the shore, they threw the anchors overboard and waited anxiously for morning to come.

The sailors knew in what danger they were. They could not bring the ship safely to land, so they planned to escape and save their own lives. They began to lower a small boat, but they pretended to be casting more anchors into the sea.

Paul knew what the sailors were doing. He told the centurion, "We cannot be saved unless these sailors stay in the ship."

This time the Roman officer did not even stop to question Paul's words. He cut the ropes that held the small boat and let it drift away.

Toward morning Paul said, "This is the fourteenth day we have been without food. I ask all of you to eat now so you will be strengthened. No one will be lost."

Before all the people Paul took bread and gave thanks to God. The people took courage and ate with Paul.

At daybreak they could see the land. The sailors did not recognize the place, but ahead was a sandy shore. Lifting the anchors they tried to steer the ship into a small stream. Soon the ship ran aground and stuck fast. The sea beat against the back of the ship so violently that the ship began to break up. The soldiers wanted to kill their prisoners for fear some would escape. If one got away, a soldier would have to pay with his own life. The Roman captain did not want Paul killed, so he refused to let the soldiers harm any of the prisoners.

At the captain's orders those who could swim jumped into the water and swam to shore. Others found broken pieces of the ship and floated ashore. Not one of the two hundred and seventy-six people was drowned.

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