I have a book of illustrations compiled by author and speaker Craig Brian Larson. This one is entitled, “Lost People.”
On Sunday, December 22, 1996, Carnell Taylor was working on a paving crew repairing the Interstate 64 bridge over the Elizabeth River in Virginia. The road was icy, and a pickup truck slid out of control and hit Taylor, knocking him off the bridge. He fell 75 feet and hit the cold waters of the river below. His pelvis and some of the bones in his face were broken.
Joseph J. Brisson, the captain of a barge passing by at that moment, saw Taylor fall and quickly had to make a life-or-death decision. He knew Taylor would drown before he and his crew could launch their small boat and reach him. The numbingly cold water and strong currents of the river could kill him if he dived in to rescue Taylor. He had a family, and Christmas was three days away.
Brisson decided to risk his life for a man he had never met. He dived into the river, swam to Taylor, and grabbed hold of him. “Don’t worry, buddy,” he said, “I got you.” Brisson held Taylor’s face above the water and encouraged him to keep talking. Then he took hold of a piece of wood in the water and slid it under Taylor to help keep him afloat. The current was too strong for them to swim to safety, and eventually the cold caused Brisson to lose his grip on Taylor. So Brisson wrapped his legs around the injured man’s waist and held on.
After nearly 30 minutes the crew from the barge was finally able to reach the two men and pull them from the water into the small boat. Taylor was hospitalized for broken bones. Brisson, the hero, was treated for mild hypothermia.
Brisson later told the Associated Press he knew what he had to do when he saw the man fall. “I have family,” he said. “I thought about that. But I thought about how life is very important. I’m a Christian man, and I couldn’t let anything happen to him.”
In this perilous rescue, Joseph Brisson shows us the heart of God. The God of love knows better than anyone the tremendous value of a human being and his or her eternal soul. For even one person Jesus was willing to leave the safety and joy of his family in heaven and give himself to save others.
I, Pastor Scott, know that many of you reading this would sacrifice your comfort or safety to physically help someone – many of you, as veterans or first responders, have. I wonder what stops us from sacrificing our emotional comfort to help save someone from eternity IN HELL?
Something to think about – starting with me,
Your Brother, Pastor Scott