A number of passengers from the Carnival cruise ship Triumph, which made national headlines last week after it was stranded in the Gulf of Mexico, revealed that they turned to the Bible during a time of stress and concern.
"The Bible studies were great," Joseph Alvarez said, who was one of the 4,200 passengers who began their cruise on Feb. 7. "We did it for four days. … It put our minds and our hearts at ease. We felt peace the whole time. We knew that there was a Mighty Power out there that would get us home and keep us safe so we could get home and see our children."
The 893-foot ship was left stranded in the Gulf of Mexico after an engine room fire, leading to a four-day delay with passengers having to endure less than ideal conditions before the ship was towed. Alvarez, who witnessed the firefighters responding to the fire that broke out inside the ship, revealed that the improvised Bible study sessions brought together different passengers who found courage and faith, the Billy Graham Evangelical Association noted.
"What if I don't go home?" Cecilia Alvarez, his wife, remembered thinking. "What if I don't see my kids anymore?" The couple, who have four children back home in San Antonio, Texas, had taken the cruise to celebrate Valentine's Day.
One Bible verse that particularly stood out for Alvarez was Joshua 1:9: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
The couple came up with the idea of a Bible study to lift up other Christians on the ship, which was announced on the intercom. The sessions started small, with about 25 people, but another 20 or so passengers joined in the following day.
"Whenever two or more are gathered in His name, He's there," Joseph Alvarez, who was suffering from back problems, reminded readers. Besides reading from the Bible, believers on board the ship also shared testimonies, prayed, and sang songs like "Amazing Grace" and "How Great is Our God."
"It uplifted them," Alvarez affirmed. "You could see it. You could feel it."
The couple arrived back home in Texas Saturday morning where they were reunited with their children. There were no injuries or fatalities reported on board the Triumph.