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CBN.com The sun was shining, and the water looked just right. Frank Icenhour was on summer vacation in Myrtle Beach, S.C., having the time of his life.
“I’d gotten sunburnt,” Frank says. “So, I decided to go out at night ‘cause that was my last full day there. I wanted to go out in the water one more time.”
It was 7 p.m. when Frank took his raft and plunged into the sea.
By this time, the lifeguards had left their stands, and a lot of tourists had gone home.
“The waves were a bit rough, but I figured it wouldn’t be a problem,” he says. "I’d been out before, and I’d never had any difficulties at all getting in or out. Big waves would come, I wouldn’t be able to touch the bottom, and then they’d get back down, [and] the water’d be about up to my knees.”
That’s what “normally” happened but this dip was quite different.
“All at once, I don’t know if maybe the beach had just gone down rapidly or whether there was a hole there or something, but when the waves went down, I couldn’t touch the bottom.”
Frank was caught in a monstrous rip tide.
“Five minutes straight, I did nothing but yell, ‘Help me! Somebody please help me! I’m washed out. I can’t swim!’ It didn’t do any good,” Frank recalls.
So, there he was: a boy and his raft, drifting farther and farther out to sea.
“I couldn’t get back, but then a calm came over me,” he says.
The “calm” came as Frank thought back to some of the verses he’d read in the Bible.
“I knew that God would bring me back sooner or later,” Frank says. “He promised never to leave me nor forsake me. Nothing is impossible with the Lord. I remembered this, and then I just started thanking God right there for bringing me back.”
Frank kept thanking and praising God hour after hour. He hung on to the Lord and his tiny raft for dear life.
“The waves would be crashing on top of me and going over my head,” Frank recalls. “I had to hang onto the raft really tight just to keep from falling off. My whole lower body was hanging off in the water, so I had to keep kicking so my feet would not sink. If my legs and lower body sank, the raft could tip backwards, and then I would be in deep trouble.”
Very deep trouble! Frank didn’t know how to swim.
Throughout the night, Frank was stung by a jellyfish and bitten by a crab. But it was Frank’s encounter with a shark that scared him the most.
“I tried to get up on the raft as much as I could and keep my legs moving above water,” says Frank. “So it wouldn’t think I was just dead and try to eat me. All considering, it was about five feet long.”
The shark finally left. Frightened as he was, Frank didn’t allow fear to consume him. He chose to trust Christ and learn from the experience instead.
“I wasn’t exactly expecting Him to save me right then,” says Frank. “I needed to be out there so I could just get closer to God and realize all my blessings. Around the middle, I prayed for God to leave me out here as long as He wanted me to until I got what He wanted me to get.”
As Frank thought about all the great things in his life, the sun came up. Still clinging to his raft, Frank fell asleep.
Meanwhile, alerts had gone out, and choppers scanned the sea. Frank’s friends and family prayed they’d find him alive, but the chances of that were slim.
Scott Angeletti is captain of a parasailing boat in Myrtle Beach. On his first run of the day, he and crewman Rob found Frank.
“He was laid out across the raft,” recalls Rob.“We thought that he was dead. We got about 10 feet away from him, and he finally showed signs of life -- much to our relief.”
Scott says, “[Frank] was very excited to see us but he was very calm -- not what you would expect from a 15-year-old that’d spent 14 hours in the ocean overnight. He was in good spirits.”
Frank was found about a mile out from shore, and six miles down from where he’d entered the water the night before. The timing of the rescue was critical.
“If we didn’t see him at that point in the morning, I don't know if the choppers would have seen him,” says Scott. “I know no other boats had come out as far as we were at that point in the day to see him.”
When Frank finally set foot on land, he was overcome with relief. He wouldn’t let go of his raft, and he say’s he’ll never let go of his Lord.
“If I hadn’t had God, I most likely would have panicked and drowned,” says Frank. “[God is] the only person that could have brought me back ‘cause He’s the only one who knew I was out there.”
Frank learned that no matter where he goes, how alone he is, or how troubled the waters of life may seem, God has a purpose for everything. Frank’s now confident that God knows exactly where he is and will always provide the help he needs.
Frank says, “He controls everything. He controls your life, and you need to put all your faith in Him. You can’t do it alone. You can’t do anything without Him.”
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