In June 1965, six Tongan teenagers sailed from their island home in search of adventure. But when a storm broke their mast and rudder the first night, they drifted for days without food or water before reaching the uninhabited island of ‘Ata. It would be fifteen months before they were found.
The boys worked together on ‘Ata to survive, setting up a small food garden, hollowing out tree trunks to store rainwater, even building a makeshift gym. When one boy broke his leg from a cliff fall, the others set it using sticks and leaves. Arguments were managed with mandatory reconciliation, and each day began and ended with singing and prayer. When the boys emerged from their ordeal healthy, their families were amazed—their funerals had already been held.
Being a believer in Jesus in the first century could be an isolating experience. Persecuted for your faith and often stranded from family, one could feel adrift. The apostle Peter’s encouragement to such castaways was to stay disciplined and prayerful (1 Peter 4:7), to look after each other (v. 8), to manage arguments (v. 9), and use whatever abilities one has to get the work done (vv. 10–11). In time, God would bring them through their ordeal strong and steadfast (5:10).
In times of trial, “castaway faith” is needed. Those Tongan teens showed us the way. We pray and work in solidarity, and God brings us through.