Monday, October 15, 2012

Men Wanted for Hazardous Journey

The London Times, December 19, 1912, ran this advertisement.

“Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.”
How many men in the modern era would sign up for such a trip? Over a thousand did in 1912.
The advertisement was not an understatement. Sir Earnest Shackleton took a small team of men with the hope of reaching the South Pole and crossing the land mass completely, the pole having already been reached by another explorer. Their ship's name, the one with which they would be sailing through cold ocean waters, past ice flows and endure freezing storms on, was fitting, they named it Endurance, after the family motto "By Endurance we conquer."
The "Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition" set sail at last, in two ships, each manned by twenty eight men, on September 27, 1914.
World war I had already begun.
On December 5 they left the last major, inhabited island and set out for Vashel Bay. Once in the Weddel Sea, the ice began to thicken, until they had to use the Endurance as a ram to cut through the ice simply to make headway. The ice continued to slow them down, until in the end, on January 19, 1915, the ship Endurance was trapped on all sides by ice. By February 24, Shackleton realized that there was no hope of getting the ship free before the spring sun came and melted the ice. They would have to wait for the long winter to end before continuing on with their expedition. With good cheer they set up a winter camp on the ice next to their trapped ship, and began to race the sled dogs and go hunting.
And then the ship began to grown. "What the ice takes, the ice keeps." There was no hope for the Endurance, she was going to sink. Soon, water began pouring in as the ice drifted together from both sides, crushing the ship in between the flows. The ship was abandoned. "She's going down!" and so she did.
And there they were, less than thirty men, a few dogs, three row boats and one knight, sitting in the harshest climate in the world, with no chance of rescue. Perhaps some of them began to wish they had not picked up the newspaper on December 19.
But Shackleton was not a fellow to let the ice melt under his feet, no longer worried about their first objective, he now had only one thought in mind, bringing everyone back alive.
After attempting to march across the rough ice, they built Patience Camp, hoping that they would drift to Paulet Island, where stores were known to be cached. The flows broke and they had to take to the boats, after five days they arrived at Elephant Island. Shackleton gave his mittens to a crew member.
However, this island was out of the way of ships, and there was still no hope of rescue. Shackleton would have to go and find it.
It would be a trip of 800 miles in an open boat, across freezing waters with sick men. But that was the important thing, they were men. If they missed the small island they were aiming for with guesswork (dead reckoning) navigation, they would be lost at sea.
Through God's Providence they made it to the island they were aiming for, but on the wrong side of thirty miles of uncharted mountains and without a rudder to go around the island. The mountains would have to be crossed. Well, of course no one else in history had ever been able to cross them, but then, none of those people had ever been named Sir Earnest Shackleton.
They made it, with fifty feet of rope, little sleep, freezing cold, weakness, exhaustion, near death, they made it, and Shackleton stood at the top of the last hill, overlooking the settlement. They were in such a state that the first people that saw them, some children, ran for their lives.
After more than one try Shackleton was able rescue his men he had left on Elephant Island, after they had been there four and a half months. When he did, he stood on the boat, watching the men come out of their shelter, and said "They are all there."
Not one of the expedition members died. And now I ask you, are you willing to face for  cause of Christ what they faced for the cause of science?
“Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.”
There are adventures still to be had, battles still to be won, who will answer the call of Christ? Not for their own glory, but for His.

Through His Strength We Will Conquer,

Andrew C. Abbott

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