A Great Explorer Prays

A Great Explorer Prays

All truly great men have always been friends of God who trusted him and put their faith in him. They were men who knew that God helped them up the hard pathways of their lives.

I want to tell you about one such great man named Roald Amundsen. Roald was born in Norway. When he was a young boy, he loved to think of himself growing up to be an explorer. This brave, bold career excited him, though it is a rare ambition. Reading of the lives of great explorers sparked within him the idea of going to places where no man before had ever set foot.

At the age of eight years, when other boys were playing simple games, Roald was hardening his body and climbing dangerous hills the better to meet the challenge he knew he wanted to face in his future.

When he was a boy, most of the world had been traveled over and explored except the far North Pole and the South Pole, where desolate wastes of snow and ice and treacherous seas abound. When Roald was very young, he would often ask, "Mother, why did God make such lonely isolated outposts in the world while so many other things are so beautiful?" His mother, wise peasant women that she was, would rap him on his head sharply with her thimble and tell him not to question the ways of God.

"Fetch some firewood," she said.

His mother wanted him to become a doctor, but Roald held fast to his dreams of exploring and finding both the North Pole and the South Pole. Why, he did not know, but his ambition stayed with him all his life.

When he was only sixteen, he set forth. He became a cabin boy on a ship that was exploring the vast and dangerous seas about the South Pole. On the ship he was so smart he was soon promoted to second mate. Because he had read so many books, he knew how to loose the endangered ship from the ice floes in which it had become frozen.

Later on, with almost no money, but with willing and enthusiastic shipmates, he purchased for himself a broken-down ship and sailed into the white and gray unknown seas of the North. He hoped to reach the North Pole. He never did, but he was the first man to find the Northwest Passage. This was a way by sea from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. He entered the Arctic by way of Greenland, sailed ever north and emerged off the coast of Alaska.

Not long thereafter, Commodore Peary of the United States discovered the North Pole, and Roald's dream, one half of it, was shattered. But he had still more dreams and later he was the first man ever to sail over the North Pole in an airship. While looking down at the fierce and barren land of ice and snow, he spoke a prayer to God and dropped the flags of several nations.

On December 14, 1911, Roald Amundsen, accompanied by four men and a team of dog sleds, dashed to the South Pole. There again, remembering God his great Friend, he knelt in the snow as the earth whirled about and beneath him at the southernmost tip of God's world. He thanked God for his triumph and humbly prayed for deliverance in getting back to his base.

On the way back, his party came across the frozen bodies of Robert Scott, a brave British explorer, and his team, which had been racing Amundsen to the South Pole. They were all dead of hunger and cold. Again Amundsen thoughtfully turned to God under the cold, twinkling stars of the Far Below, and prayed for strength to reach home. On his return, he received honors from the whole world.

When Amundsen died he did so in the noblest tradition of men who go down to the seas or explore the unknown places of the earth. He went out on a mercy mission to save an Italian explorer, Nobile, who had crashed at the North Pole. Oddly, Amundsen and the explorer, one Umberto Nobile, had never really liked each other. But when the radio flashed that Nobile was stranded on the ice and in great danger, Amundsen took off to rescue him. This was his last flight. He was never heard from again. His body was never found.

But all throughout his life, Roald Amundsen maintained a firm belief in God and in his drive to chart the uncharted areas of the world. As he said before he was lost forever from this earth, "Above and beyond skill and determination, there is a faith that can move mountains and reach the distant shores. Through storms and terror, I always was enabled to find a peaceful haven because of my prayer to the One above. It is a thing that confounds all scientists."

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