One of the more amazing human interest stories has been unfolding over the last few weeks and its had me transfixed. It involved the four children who survived a plane crash and then 40 days in the Amazon Rain Forest in Columbia. What makes this story, and their survival, even more remarkable was their ages, thirteen, nine, four and one. In conditions that would be difficult for adults to survive, remarkably, these four kids did.
When news of the crash hit, the Columbian government immediately sent troops in to look for survivors. They were able to locate the plane, found three adults who had died, but there was no sign of the children. The search eventually moved from days to weeks and with each passing day hope of their survival waned. Planes flew overhead, men and dogs searched, and helicopters hovered. They used all types of communication trying to connect with the kids, simple pamphlets were dropped overhead and a voice recording of their grandmother blasted from helicopter speakers. What kept the search active was occasional evidence that the kids were alive; a ribbon, small footprints in mud, or a scrap of food that had been discarded. Finally, on the 40th day, all four children were found. They were in relatively good shape, a few cuts, some bug bites, and obviously very hungry. The thirteen-year-old, Lesly, account of the adventures gives us insight as to how they survived.
First, it’s important to know that the kid’s family were indigenous. These kids were natives to the land, grew up around and were accustomed to difficulty, and knew some basic necessities for survival. Someone had invested in educating them in how to live in their world. Lesly had knowledge of the land, the environment, and some awareness of danger, both of people and animals. She somehow was able to navigate the rest of the kids to safe spaces for 40 days. We’ve learned that the area of the crash was filled with venomous snakes, panthers, leopards, and many other precarious animals, yet throughout the entire ordeal, not one animal harmed them. She was conscious of needing to be careful of men. The area was known to be a place where drug dealers and gangs would hide. During the 40 days, though the soldiers didn’t see the children, the kids saw them. Lesly would tell the smaller children to be silent and cover the mouth of the baby until they had left the area. There was 50lbs. of flour on the plane and Lesly was able make meals with it. She knew which jungle fruit was safe, and though the food was meager, they were able to survive. Finally, there are conflicting reports to the timing of their mother’s death, one account says she died instantly, while another says she survived four days. The account of the mom living four days says her last words were, “I’m dying, but someone will come and help you.” If true, what powerful last words of hope.
There are so many life and spiritual lessons to be gleaned from this amazing story. We see the value of a godly heritage and realize we must not take it for granted. We learn the importance of spiritually educating our kids, that if we prepare them, they can navigate the difficult world culture and climate they have been placed in. While it true that our kids are growing up in unprecedented times, this encounter gives us evidence that if we train up our children in the ways they should go, they can, not only survive, but thrive. These kids survived nearly impossible conditions, without any adult help, because they had been prepared.
Whether true or not, the supposed last words of their mom, that someone would come and rescue them, are words we must remind our kids of consistently. They must know that there is someone who can help them, that there is a helper, Jesus, His Holy Spirit, that can rescue them, protect them, and guide them to safety. Train up your children in the ways they should go.