A Psalm of Conversion

A writer shares this personal story of the importance of the psalms.

As we enter the season of Easter, and then Pentecost, we turn our attention again to the psalms of the Old Testament. Beginning April 27, we will offer God’s People Speak to God, an eight-session study of the psalms. It will be suitable for individuals and small groups, either online or in-person when that option is once again available to us.

On the Introduction to the Study page, you will find background information, a bibliography of resources, and links to reflections on the psalms that we posted during Lent and Holy Week 2020.

Until then, enjoy this contribution from a writer who prefers to remain anonymous.


My favorite scripture is Psalm is 34:4-6. No one ever really talks about it, so I will. This is a story that I generally don’t tell, but with the way things are going, I believe now is an appropriate time.

Over 20 years ago, I was in the Navy, stationed on Guam. My ship was the USS Frank Cable. I was not a Christian, and I was wild and rebellious.  I did not go to church, and I spent my off-duty time in bars. 

On August 6, 1997, KAL flight 801 crashed into Nimitz Hill; 254 people were on that plane. I had duty that night, so I was on call. When the alarm sounded, we all jumped in to help. Because I had medical training, I was assigned to follow a doctor to the crash site. When we got to ground zero, I climbed down into pitch blackness holding on to a fire hose. It was tied to a wheel well of a truck. The only light came from the fire of the burning plane. It truly looked and smelled like Hell. I followed the doctor from our ship to the triage area. That’s where I would work with the other sailors and first responders to triage and help carry out the survivors on stretchers. I saw a lot of death and destruction that early morning. 

Come daylight, I stood on the hill that I had climbed down earlier. It had been several hours since any survivors were found. I looked around and saw the sadness in my fellow sailors and first responders. That’s when I prayed to God: “You give me one more survivor and you get me. I don’t know how to be a Christian, but I will give it all I got.” 

Thirty minutes later, a shout came from below. The rescuers found not one survivor, but two, and one was a child. They were trapped and surrounded by the dead in the first-class section of the plane, which had not caught on fire. Thankfully, they had no burns or life-threatening injuries.  The Jaws of Life was used to rescue them. The survivors were put in a basket, and then pulled one by one up the hillside to be flown out.

That’s when I became a believer and was baptized in the Pacific Ocean by Chaplain Kenneth Lewis. That’s why I love Psalm 34:4-6. 

 Psalm 34:4-6 King James Version (KJV)
4 I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

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