On January 13, 1982 Air Florida’s flight 90 collided with Washington’s 14th Street bridge after taking off from Washington D.C.’s National Airport. The plane plunged into the very cold and icy waters of the Potomac River.
U.S. Park Police tried to pluck Priscilla Tirado from the water by helicopter. She was too weak to grasp the line. She cried out “will somebody please help?” Countless onlookers stood on the bridge and river banks and watched, doing nothing.
However, Lenny Skutnik was different. He had no special training in rescue. He was, by occupation, an office assistant for the Congressional Budget Office. He knew that something must be done. Therefore, Lenny Skutnik removed his coat and boots, jumped into the frigid water (temperature 33 degrees F.), swam 30 feet and saved her. He even gave his coat to one of the survivors, whom he thought needed it more than himself.
After these heroic efforts someone asked him why he so risked his own life. In response, he said, “Nobody else was doing anything… It was the only way.” He later said ” I wasn`t a hero. I was just someone who helped another human being. We`re surrounded by heroes. What made this different was that it was caught on film and went all over the world.”
Brethren, are we actively trying to rescue those drowning in sin or are we onlookers, bank-standers? Let us, as that Good Samaritan (Luke 10), seek to help all those we see in need. Let us not pass by on the other side. Let us not be do-nothing by-standers! Brethren, if we don’t do something, who will?
Matthew 5:13, 14 “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world”
Galatians 6:1 “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness”
James 5:20 “He who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins”
Romans 1:14 “I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise”
1 Corinthians 9:16 “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!”
2 Corinthians 5:11 “knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord , we persuade men”
2 Corinthians 5:14 “the love of Christ compels us”
President Ronald Reagan honored Lenny Skutnik sitting him next to Nancy Reagan at the 1982 State of the Union address. He said “Just two weeks ago, in the midst of a terrible tragedy on the Potomac, we saw the spirit of American heroism at its finest…we saw the heroism of one of our young Government employees, Lenny Skutnik, who, when he saw a woman lose her grip on the helicopter line, dived into the water and dragged her to safety.” There was a standing ovation. Note: Today, by precedent, heroes are honored in the Presidential gallery. These heroes are called “Lenny Skutniks.”
There is a far greater honor coming to soul winners than being seated in the Presidential gallery at the State of the Union address.
Proverbs 11:30 “He who wins souls is wise”
Daniel 12:3 “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever”