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CBN.com Paul Weimer is a pastor who makes his home in Anchorage, Alaska. Today he’s retired, but for many years, Paul traveled to the remote parts of this state to start churches and tell people about God’s love.
“I preached my first sermon when I was 18 years old. I felt a real definite call to the North Country,” he says. “At that time, a lot of these places had no churches at all -- no Bible preaching churches. So that’s what we did – we came to Alaska for that purpose.”
Paul could tell you lots of stories about how God has been faithful over the years. But if you step into Paul’s study today, you might notice a faded photograph of an old one-engine plane. Ask him about it, and Paul will tell you the amazing story about how his faith once allowed him to “walk on water.”
“It was still winter, and all of the lakes that I’d been flying over were still frozen,” he recalls. “I was returning to Anchorage and was practicing a new installation on the aircraft.”
While crossing the wilderness of the Kenai Peninsula, Paul decided to practice his low-level flight skills along Lake Tustamena, which was still mostly frozen.
“The wheels would hit the ice, and it would bounce and keep flying…but I hit a soft spot and wasn’t able to pull out.”
Within seconds, the plane began to be swallowed in the slush. Paul had to react quickly to keep that from happening.
“The airplane’s engine is heavy, so of course it is nose down and is going to continue to sink. My first thought was to scramble back on the tail and equalize the weight so that the airplane would lay flat.”
Fortunately, Paul was able to retrieve the emergency locator beacon from the cockpit, which then sent a signal to the rescue coordination center at Anchorage.
Since most of the state of Alaska isn’t reachable by road, there are more private pilots here than any other place in the world. For this reason, there are very standardized procedures for what to do when a pilot goes missing. Now, Paul understood these procedures, and so he knew it would be hours before a rescue was mounted.
“I’ve been involved in a couple of searches myself for others. Sometimes they can be located in a matter of hours, sometimes it takes days. So you don’t know, and the daylight was fading. It was getting towards late in the afternoon.
“The civil air patrol had a plane out searching just before dark. I could see him flying back and forth some distance from me, but he never saw me. So when it got dark then it began to snow. The wind came up…and that increased the ministry.
“I said, ‘Well, if God doesn’t send help, it’s very likely I’ll go to heaven tonight -- either by freezing to death or drowning.
“There was a cold wind blowing from the southwest. It was bitter,” Paul recalls. “My feet froze and turned as blue as the sky, completely. After awhile you get so exhausted that you go to sleep standing up.”
When Dawn Broke, Paul had been standing on the tail of his plane for more than 14 hours. But as the sun rose in the sky, so did his hopes for a rescue…until the fog rolled in.
“You couldn’t see for thirty yards. Real thick fog. I prayed and prayed, ‘Dear God, take this fog away.’ Then the fog lifted, and I saw a helicopter lift off the beach and come directly toward me. I just knew my ordeal was over. I was just elated.”
Altogether, Paul endured more than 20 hours stranded on the frigid lake. But it hasn’t slowed him down. He won’t take credit for his survival, either.
“One of the newspapers called me on the phone for an interview. The interviewer said, ‘You must be in remarkable condition.’ I said, ‘Hey, I’ve had cancer. I’m getting to be an old man. My condition had nothing to do whatsoever with my survival. It was God that brought me through that.’”
Paul still enjoys flying. “One of these days I’m going to fly without a machine when the Lord comes the second time.
“The world looks at these things with sort of a weird, almost mystic sense. That’s not what faith is all about. There’s a Person there who is watching over us and looking at us, and He’s the one that we need to trust.”
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