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Rescue at Sea Shores Up One Young Woman’s Faith
Ariane Giles credits her parents with having a big impact on her faith in Christ. Because she was home schooled, the Largo, Florida, resident had an especially close relationship with them. They helped her to search out answers in the Bible and guided her understanding of Scripture throughout her childhood.
Ariane’s time in Awana at Bay Ridge Baptist Church in Seminole, Florida, helped her grow in the faith as well. Though learning verses was a challenge, she persevered and worked her way up to the highest achievement in Awana – the Citation Award. She learned more than 700 verses and completed numerous Bible study and service projects to earn the award in 2008.
“It has stretched me!” Ariane said. “Memorization isn’t necessarily easy for me, and many of the answers in my handbooks were important to answer, but difficult.”
Ariane’s knowledge of Scripture prepared her well for the trials of life. She remembers one instance, in particular, where she called on God and saw Him come to her aid.
Life in the balance
“A group of friends and I swam across a boat channel that leads to the Gulf of Mexico,” she said. “The currents were strong – we didn’t realize just how strong. I was the oldest one in the group and ended up being the one to tow them to the other side. We were exhausted by the time we got there, and the sun was setting.
“We tried to take account for the current this time and walked to the other end of the island and started out again, at first insisting on staying together. Then, as it became apparent that two of us were exhausted (me and the second-oldest girl), the youngest two (a guy and a girl) separated from us and swam to shore.
“We were still struggling out at sea. By this time, we could see rescue teams on shore. Finally, I gave up and said, ‘OK, God, if you want me to live, you’ll help me get there.’ Then, Grace and I prayed. I felt really calm after that, like God was in control.
“Right after that, we hit a sandbar. It was literally as if God led us right to that sandbar and said, ‘OK, look – I’m saving you.’ So we walked to shore and got on an ambulance that monitored us for a little bit and gave us some wool blankets.”
Serving and trusting
Ariane is still serving in Awana today as she has since sixth grade. She feels that being a teacher helps her to learn. Working in Cubbies and Puggles has allowed her to use her artistic talents as well. She shares Bible stories with the kids using the cloth dolls she makes. She has also been learning sign language and is teaching the kids to sign during their songs and verses.
As challenges come her way, Ariane has realized it’s time to rely more on God. “It seems that with whatever struggle I’m having,” she said, “once I take it to Him, things settle down and He helps out.”