On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was once a crude little lifesaving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members of the crew kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought of themselves, went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost. So many lives were saved by this wonderful little station that it became famous. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time, money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews trained. And the little lifesaving station grew. Some of the members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge for those saved from the sea. So they replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building.
Now the lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it comfortably, because they used it as a sort of private club. Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work. The lifesaving motif still prevailed in this club’s decorations and there was a liturgical lifeboat in the room where initiations and ritual ceremonies were held.
About this time, a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boat loads of cold, wet and half-drowned people. They were dirty, sick and injured. Some of them had black skin, and others had yellow skin.
The property committee was so upset by this threat to the neatness and cleanness of their club that they immediately had a bathhouse built outside where victims could be cleaned up before coming inside.
At the next meeting, there was a split of the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities because they were unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club.
Some members insisted upon lifesaving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station. But these few were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station further down the coast. And they did.
As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old one. It again evolved into a club, and yet another lifesaving station was founded further down the coast.
History continued to repeat itself, and if you were to visit that sea coast today, you would find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks continue to be frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown!
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org