Go, Grow, Change: Roots

Brave Enough to Follow God: The Sinking of the ZamZam

March 16, 2017

On a calm April morning in 1941, a ship called the ZamZam sailed off the coast of southern Africa. Many of the passengers were headed to Africa as missionaries, including three World Gospel Mission missionaries—Rev. and Mrs. George Belknap and Miss Margaret Thompson. The morning was quiet and the passengers slept in their beds, until….

Suddenly, the sound of an explosion boomed! The passengers woke up and saw smoke. Since this was during World War II, one passenger thought the boat had hit a mine. Looking out of a porthole, she said, “Oh, no! It is not a mine. It is a German ship, and they are firing on us!” 

The ship burst into action. Passengers got dressed, putting life jackets on over their clothing and heading toward the lifeboats that the crew brought down. By the time the passengers entered the small boats, the shooting had stopped; however, they were not out of danger. Miss Thompson found her group’s lifeboat full of holes. When the boat began filling with water, she jumped into the ocean to lighten its load.

As she floated in her life vest, Miss Thompson could only think: “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”

Sure enough, the Lord had performed a miracle. The ZamZam sank, but all of its passengers survived the sinking. God had protected them. 

The passengers lived as prisoners on another ship for a month and then stayed in France for two weeks before returning to America. People all around the world thanked God for rescuing the passengers of the ZamZam. After returning home, many missionaries were willing to go back across the sea to spread the message of Jesus. Danger and delay could not stop them from hoping in God and doing His work. 

Here’s what’s amazing: the same God who helped the missionaries on the ZamZam gives us hope and helps us share His Word with others.

Hebrews 12:1 (NIV) says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

From the stories of Christians before us, we can see just how powerful our God is. We can also see just how important He is—important enough for the missionaries to trust Him with their lives. When we know these things, He can make us brave enough to follow Him, just like Miss Thompson and the other missionaries on the ZamZam

Go, Grow, Change


GO: The missionaries in this story returned to America after their ship sank. Download this activity sheet to help them sail through the maze back to their mission field.


GROW: Memorize Hebrews 12:1.



CHANGE: Ask an adult to help you find the story of another missionary or person from the Bible. Remember that you can ask God and have that same kind of faith!