He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord. (Acts 11:24 NRSV)
In 1925, an epidemic of diphtheria hit the city of Nome, Alaska. In those days, diphtheria could be fatal. A medicine existed to treat the disease, but the closest available supply was a 1,000 miles away. At that time, dogsleds were the only form of transportation.
Wild Bill Shannon, a trapper from the city of Nenana, suggested a better way to get the medicine there. If each town between Nenana and Nome would prepare a fresh dogsled team and driver, they could act as a relay team. Wild Bill calculated that it would take only nine days for a relay team to deliver the medicine.
The relay idea worked well at first. Slowly but surely, the medicine made its way through the first four towns between Nenana and Nome. But for the fifth driver, Gunnar Kaasen, something went wrong. A blizzard threw Kaasen off his route so that he passed by the cabin of the sixth driver. Kaasen was utterly lost in the storm. To make matters worse, the blizzard temporarily blinded him. His only hope was that his lead dog, Balto, would remember the way. For 53 miles, the blizzard pounded both the driver and the dogsled team. Balto should have needed to stop and rest, but he kept on going. And somehow, in spite of the blizzard, they made it. By the time they reached the city, Kaasen was only semiconscious and actually frozen to his sled. But Balto and the other dogs had gotten him safely to Nome. Amazingly, medicine had been delivered in only six days. All but two people in the city of Nome survived the epidemic.
That story grips us because of the heroism involved. Did you know that our heritage as the body of Christ is filled with stories equally as dramatic?
Dear God, thank you for those who have gone before me, so that I can believe in you. Amen.
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