LAKE PALESTINE, Texas (KLTV) - A boating accident on Lake Palestine in Smith County nearly ended in tragedy for two families. Now, almost 40 years later, they’re finally learning the story of the man who rescued them and saved eight lives.
Decades ago, Becky and Rodney Owens, their kids, and family friends were enjoying an afternoon of boating while visiting from the Dallas area.
A sudden, violent storm flipped their deck boat, leaving everyone in the churning water as lightning and thunder drew nearer.
“And we were just being tossed around like a tinker toy,” Becky said.
“It was at that point, prayer was the only answer we had. We were a long way from shore.”
She recalled singing songs and praying with her children as they were tossed in the waves for nearly four hours.
“I just remember asking the Lord, you know, please send somebody. Please send somebody. Please let someone see us.”
Eventually, a man on the shore spotted them through a rifle scope and set out into the storm.
“I realized it was a red Skeeter boat. And I was like, ‘A bass boat God. Really? A bass boat? Okay.’”
It turns out, there was a problem with that boat’s bilge hose and it began taking on water.
After two trips, everyone made it to shore before the rescuer’s boat also sank.
Becky says her prayers shifted to asking for more time for her family members to accept and know their savior.
“God did give my husband more time. He did accept Christ. My daughter, all of our children, accepted Christ.”
Despite the answered prayer, so something was unfinished, Becky said.
“We didn’t know how to get a hold of the people who had rescued us. And who had given us all this loving care. Literally, they became angels. And that’s how I explained it to my children. I said, ‘God sent angels to take care of us that day.’"
Last Summer, Facebook delivered an unexpected opportunity. It started with a post from the Owens’ pastor, Perry Crisp, who was preparing a sermon. He was looking for stories to make the message more personal.
“And I said, (in) 25 words or less, tell me about a time when something went wrong in your life and God turned it around into something good.”
Becky posted a few comments about their experience on Lake Palestine from four decades ago. It caught the attention of Bud Allred, a fellow member of Lake Fork Baptist Church.
He says he never expected to see those words.
“I realized at that moment, I said, that was me, you know, so I called (Becky).”
He told her, “Listen, I’ve got the end of your story. And it’s about God. It’s about what God can do. Look what he’s done.”
After being off Facebook for years, Allred says he got back on social media and happened to see Crisp’s post. Then he realized he was the man who rescued Owens’ family years before.
“I was just jumping up and down, just realizing that God had given us like a little spillover of heaven. Because we got to kind of close the loop on something that had happened 37 years earlier, where and hour & a half north of here where we go to church. They weren’t even from the area. We had moved several times. And for God to give us this opportunity to come together and to prove that he is God.”
Owens says she dropped the phone and ran outside to get Rodney. Laughing and crying followed.
“It was a really emotional moment. You know, and then to realize this was a friend of yours that you’ve known for about four years. And have worked with off and on. And have admired and looked up to. And that God had brought that story full circle.”
In 2018, the Owens arranged to have their children and their families to join them for a service at Lake Fork Baptist Church. In front of the congregation, they shared their testimony about the power of prayer.
“He has transformed Rodney and I for his honor and his glory. It is all about him," Becky said.
Later, Allred revealed he was the rescuer.
“My faith was strong before, but man it just puts an ‘Amen!’ and an exclamation point on my life that even the small things that we do and the big things, that God has a purpose.”
Crisp says this is simply the way God works.
"You’re going to have those stormy days. And he’s going to hold your hand through it. And then when you see days like this, you remember how he’s led you through those storms.”
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