American Ship Nancy
Nancy flying an American flag at St. Thomas, engraving by John Sartain

By Sandy Mittelsteadt
Faith Contributor, Valley Ag Voice

Pondering on a topic for this month’s Faith in Farming column. I received within the hour an email from a friend with a fantastic story. A couple of days passed, and I received another email (from a different source) with another strange story. When the third email arrived with the third story, I realized that these stories were fascinating to me and faith inspiring and would make the perfect content for my Faith in Farming column. I pray they will also be faith inspiring for you. I will retell those stories in my own words.

The first story concerns Queen Victoria, who was traveling at night by train through fog in Great Britain. Unexpectedly, the train engineer saw a strange ghostly figure dressed in a long black coat standing in the middle of the tracks, waving his arms back and forth. Immediately, the train engineer slammed on the brakes and looking into the fog saw that the bridge ahead had been swept away. No one knew who that ghostly figure was, and he could not be found. After the train arrived in London, the train engineer noticed a dead moth at the bottom of the engine’s head lamp. When he pressed the moth against the glass of the lamp and turned it on, he again saw the black-robed ghost man. That man he had seen was not a man at all, but a moth which had flown into the lamp minutes before the train was to cross the bridge. Appearing to be a black-robed man waving his arms, the train engineer stopped the train. Queen Victoria and all who were on the train were saved by a moth. It is marvelous that God just used a moth flying to the light to save people. The Bible speaks of moments like this in Romans 8:28.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.”

The second story is about an American ship named the “Nancy.” In 1799, the “Nancy” was thought to be carrying illegal imports and was apprehended by a British vessel. However, before the ship was boarded, the crew disposed of the contraband, and the Captain of the “Nancy” threw overboard the ship’s records and substituted a fake set of book records, which had been prepared earlier in case the ship was seized. A trial was planned for the crew of the “Nancy,” and it appeared that the crew would be acquitted when a captain of another ship walked into the courtroom with the original papers of the “Nancy,” those original papers which had been thrown overboard. The “Nancy” crew could not believe their ears when they heard that those papers had been swallowed by a shark which had been caught by another ship. Upon processing that shark, the papers had been found in its belly. I have always heard the statement that the truth will always come out, but this story is easily the most bizarre case of that statement. The captain of the “Nancy” thought his deeds would always stay secret, but the Bible states in Ephesians 5:11-13: “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.”

The third and last story comes from a daily devotional series entitled: 100 Bible Verses that made America. It concerns James A. Garfield, the 20th President of the United States. James was born in Ohio in 1831. His father died fighting a fire on their homestead. His mother, an earnest follower of Jesus, raised her children with much prayer. As a teenager, James obtained a job working on the Ohio and Pennsylvania Canal. This was a brave thing for James to do as it was a dangerous job, and he could hardly swim. One night, while struggling with a coil of rope, he fell over the ship’s railing into the cold waters of the canal. Afraid of drowning and thrashing about, he found the loose rope, which became taut enough for him to haul himself up and get his head above the canal water. The others on the ship were sleeping and did not hear his cries for help. He managed to haul himself onto the deck of the ship. James had swallowed a large amount of water and was freezing. He developed a high fever, so he decided to plod toward home. From a distance, he could see a light through the window and knew his mother was on her knees praying. He knew her prayer for him daily was in Psalms 86:16.

“O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; give thy strength into thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid.”

James’ mother nursed him back to health and he found out afterwards that the rope had stopped unwinding due to crack at the edge of the boat. That crack caused the rope to become tight and saved his life. James believed that God saved his life, and he knew God had something better for him than canaling. After he regained his health, he attended a revival meeting and gave his life to Christ. James attended Hiram College and began making political speeches, where he condemned the evils of slavery. He joined the Union Army and ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1880, he was elected President of the United States. (His mother became the first mother of a president to witness her son sworn into office. She also lived with him at the White House.). James Garfield’s life and his mother’s prayers demonstrate to us the power of prayer.

In 2021, I resolve to trust God more. If he can use a moth and a crack in the wood to save lives, I can trust him and put my life in His hands. I also resolve to pray more, especially for my children. I believe that prayer is the key to unlock Heaven’s Gates.

My sons may never become President of the United States, (and I have no desire for them to do that), but they can make a difference where they live and help people in their communities. For that matter, I can make a difference in Bakersfield. Each one of us can make a difference and together, we can make a change in Bakersfield!

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