We Thought We Heard The Angels Sing, written by Lieutenant James Whittaker who was one of seven men whose plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean on October 21, 1942. Their leader was the famous Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, and these seven men found themselves stranded on three rafts with no water and only four oranges.
Tying their boats together, they drifted day after day without food or water, sometimes delirious, tortured by the relentless sun, and constantly encircled by the dorsal fins of sharks. It seemed impossible for them to survive, but one of the men, Private Johnny Bartek, was a dedicated Christian who always carried a little New Testament with him so that he could have his daily devotions. It was a pocket-sized with a zipper arrangement that made it waterproof.
There, in the middle of the Pacific, Bartek had his devotions. It wasn’t very private and the other six men wanted to know what he was doing. When he explained to them about his daily Bible reading and prayer, they asked him why they couldn’t all share in that.
And so the men started having their daily devotions and they started at the beginning of the book, in the Gospel of Matthew. Soon they came to 6:31-34. It immediately became their hope, inspiration, and prayer: What shall we eat? What shall we drink? —Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
As the men read those verses day after day, a remarkable series of miracles started happening. Just when they were near starvation, for example, a bird landed on Rickenbacker’s head and they would grab it, carve it up for food, and use its innards for fishing bait. Just when they were near death by thirst, a cloud would drift over and fill their raft with water. Day after day as they read these verses, prayed, and claimed these promises, God would somehow send food and water, sometimes even a fish jumping into their raft.
For 21 days they drifted under the blazing sun in the middle of the Pacific. Through that experience, Lieutenant James Whittaker, for one, the author of the book, gave his life to Jesus Christ. “I don’t think there was a man of us who didn’t thank God for that little khaki covered book,” he said. “It led us to prayer and prayer led us to safety.”