How a word from the Lord played its part in a dramatic rescue near the summit of Mt Everest
I love it when the Lord prompts and nudges specifically! Will Neil, who leads The House of Bread retreat and conference centre in the Cotswolds, popped in to visit me a few months ago. (Do make a note of the venue and consider it for your own groups and churches, or for going on a personal retreat yourself!)
As we were talking about the Lord’s leading in prayer, Will told me of an occasion when, over breakfast one morning, he had a vision of a man near the top of Mt Everest who was suffering from altitude sickness, and who would die if help did not come. The impression was too strong for him to ignore, so he gathered his family and they prayed specifically that a group ascending to the top of Everest would stop and have compassion on him and bring him down safely.
Will asked the Lord to confirm to him that he had been hearing accurately and not just ‘praying into thin air.’
A few days later his wife’s parents rang to tell him that the front pages were full of the news. Experienced climber Dan Mazur was leading a team up Mt Everest in conditions that were ideal for reaching the summit when they came across a man who had collapsed the day before on his way down, and had been left behind by his own team in what is known as the Death Zone, where the air is too thin to breathe without oxygen.
The reason the sherpas who had escorted him down from the summit the day before had reluctantly left him there when he was overcome with altitude sickness was beause they believed him to be dead. So they took his oxygen, hat, gloves and sleeping bag with them, because, as Lincoln later put it, ‘what use were they to a dead person?’
As the Lord had instructed Will to pray, someone did indeed come across him on their ascent of the mountain. Suffering from frostbite and dehydration, Lincoln Hall was gasping for breath, and hallucinating that he was in a boat. Though he did not realise it, his feet were dangling over a thousand metre precipice. The group did indeed have compassion on Lincoln, and managed to effect the highest ever altitude rescue. Without hesitation, Dan and his team sacrificed months of extensive and expensive planning, abandoning their own chance to scale Mt Everest in order to save Lincoln Hall’s life. “The summit is still there, and we can go back,” Dan has often subsequently said, “but Lincoln only had one life.”
One of the many articles I tracked down about this episode likened Dan to the Good Samaritan, who saw a need and was prepared to put himself out to do something about it. Although we may not always see such dramatic results, praise God that He can speak to prompt each one of us to pray for specific things as He leads by His Spirit – as well as using us to a greater or lesser extent to help others in their hour of need.
Why not be still for a moment now to pray this prayer, and then wait to see how He leads?
Ruach HaKodesh, Breath of Life, move in power this very day to sustain and rescue many who find themselves in great need of rescue. Save them from from being stifled or starved to death through choking pressures and circumstances we pray.
Increase our alertness to pick up on the nudges that You send our way, and not dismiss them as coincidences, for so very much can depend on them! Thank You, Lord: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.