DELIVERED OUT OF A SNOWSTORM BY PRAYERLate in the fall of 1842, Marcus Whitman, missionary to the Indians who lived in the great Northwest, decided it was necessary to make a hurried trip to Washington. He felt that Congress should be urged to take immediate action to make the Oregon country American territory.
Now Marcus Whitman knew the dangers of winter travel across the Northwest mountains. Friends tried to dissuade him from making the trip at that time, saying that it could be better made in the spring. But Marcus, a man hesitant to delay when his mind was made up on a course of action, would not be dissuaded from the proposed journey. Shortly he set out, despite the fact that already snow was twenty feet deep in some of the mountain passes. For the first eleven days progress was difficult. Still he managed in that time to reach Fort Hall. Here again friends said that the trip was foolhardy. But Whitman, his face set like a flint eastward, would have none of their delay. They said the snows were deep, the streams in the lower lands would be raging torrents. When asked how he hoped to survive these dangers, he said, "I feel that my duty calls and I must go."
A short distance south of Fort Hall, he encountered a very severe snowstorm. Progress was slow due to the heavy drifts. Passing out of this storm, he encountered a second, more severe than the previous. Travel was now impossible, and Marcus with his friends found shelter in a deep ravine. Here they stayed for ten days, during which time the storm increased the crescendo of its fury.
Whitman decided in spite of the raging elements that he must travel onward. So with his company he left the shelter and wandered for several hours. At length the guide decided that they were lost and it would be best for them to return to the ravine. But when they tried to retrace their tracks, they found these had been drifted over and, instead of having a marked trail back to the shelter, they faced an expanse of trackless snow.
Whitman's prayers having been answered before by seeming miracles, he knelt down in the snow and asked God for guidance. He pleaded the promises of Christ, and in a simple petition he asked the Heavenly Father to protect them.
Arising from his knees, he turned to the guide and made some casual remark, and the guide's eyes were attracted to the lead mule. After some time the mule turned his long ears in various directions and then started to plunge through the heavy drifts.
"Follow the mule; he will get us through," shouted the guide. Sure enough, in two hours by following that obstreperous, long-eared mule they arrived at the camp in the ravine. Here they were able to outlive the storm, and when it had abated they traveled on. Whitman finally arrived in Washington, D.C. Thus the prayers of this man of God were answered and they were delivered out of a snowstorm.
From ANSWERED PRAYER IN MISSIONARY SERVICE by Basil William Miller, Beacon Hill Press Kansas City, Missouri, First Printing, April 1951