Stranded in Hawaii

Amanda Schaefer was not your ordinary young woman, and this was not your ordinary Hawaiian vacation.
by Mark Thelen, LC | Source:
Suddenly Amanda slammed into the girl in front of her and slipped off the air mattress into the water beneath. The current caught her like a leaf, and the swirling waters forced her beneath the air mattress of the girl in front of her. All efforts to surface seemed futile. After thirty seconds, when things were getting desperate, her head popped out of the water. She gulped in a huge breath of air. “Thanks be to God,” she thought.

She and three friends were taking a weekend off at were amusing themselves in Waipio Valley, “fluming the ditch”, which consisted in riding air mattresses down the waterways constructed about thirty feet off the ground. The water was a little faster than normal, but nothing seemed to out of the ordinary.

Just then ahead of her, she heard her friend frantically shouting, “Get out of the water!” But before she had time to give it a second thought, she found herself falling, falling, falling. Her mouth full of water, she barely had a chance to scream before she hit the rocks below.


Amanda seemed to be your average young woman in her twenties. She hung out with her friends, enjoyed sports, and the world was full of possibilities. Yet she had something bigger on her mind - she wanted to spread the Gospel.

Amanda had a strong faith in Jesus Christ, and she wanted to share it with others. That was why she was in Hawaii. Not because she wanted to enjoy the surf or have an exotic vacation, but because she had joined YWAM (Youth with a Mission). She was in the midst of a five month program that included three months of practical Bible teaching and mission training in Kona, Hawaii. Then she would head out to Egypt and Israel for her missionary work.

Yet God had other plans. Although she might not have the chance to do the evangelization work that she had planned, she was certainly in for a life-changing experience of faith.


Below on the rocks, Amanda was in incredible pain, and she found herself asking God to please let her die instead of having to endure the suffering. But after the first wave of pain, in her own words, she, “felt God placing his hedge of protection around me, and even though I was floating down a stream (facedown as I was later told) I had such a peace about everything. I knew God was with me, and no matter which way it went, life or death, God was in control.”


Her road to recovery would be slow – she broke her pelvis in four places, her left pubic bone in one place, shattered her right hip socket, broke her right hand, lacerated her head, and had a golf ball sized hole in her right ankle. Beyond that she had definitely missed her chance to go evangelizing in Egypt and Israel.

Yet Amanda had learned something far more important – the reason that she was there in the first place. As she says, “I learned that when I'm going through a really difficult time I just need to lean on God all the more for the strength to carry on. I learned that death is not a thing to fear, that it is just the passing from this life into an eternal one with God. I also got a deeper understanding of who my God is, and it was He that has given me the liberty to really go out there and share Him with others.”

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