They may never know how many died when the tsunami swept over the city of Palu in Indonesia last week. So many were just swept out to sea.
The videos are absolutely heart-wrenching. Those people were gone before they even knew what hit them.
Seismologists called the disaster "a double whammy." Unlike most earthquakes, this one hit close to the shore. So the tsunami followed almost immediately, leaving most people in its path with no warning. Suddenly, an inescapable wall of water roared over everything - and everyone - in its path.
There's one video that's had over ten million views as of today. It's haunting.
Apparently, it was taken by a man on a Palu rooftop, a few blocks from the beach. You can literally see the tsunami monster crashing over the beach and rushing toward the street below.
What's so moving is hearing the man shouting to the people below, trying to warn them of the doom he sees coming. Some don't seem to respond. Others start running, hopefully seeking higher ground.
I couldn't understand the man's words, of course - but I couldn't miss the desperation in his voice.
Just think - knowing the death that's approaching. Watching people who have no idea. So you do everything you can to warn them, to move them to safety. What else would you do?
So why don't we?
Those of us who follow Jesus. Who know that "people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). People we know. People we see all the time. But people who probably have no idea what's rushing toward them if they're not ready.
"Ready" means they have had their sins forgiven by the only One who can. The one Man who died to pay sin's hellish death penalty. Jesus, who literally "laid down His life for us" (1 John 3:16).
"But how shall they ask Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?" (Romans 10:14 - NLT). Someone who's close enough to be heard.
I can't imagine that man on the rooftop, knowing the approaching death, simply standing by and watching. Never giving people around him a chance to live.
But what about us? God uses the example of a watchman on the city wall who sees danger coming. He says, "If you do not warn them...in order to save their life...I will hold you accountable for their blood" (Ezekiel 3:18).
If you've ever been to the funeral of someone you should have told about Jesus, you know what an awful feeling that is. I do. We can't change that now. But we can determine that we don't want to feel that way ever again.
Living a good life isn't enough. They'll never guess Jesus died for their sins just by watching our life. We have to tell them.
Whatever our reason for remaining silent in the face of a spiritual tsunami, it just can't be reason enough. Not with eternity at stake.
Our silence is deadly.
We know where the higher ground is. Someone told us. It's that hill with the cross at the top.
It's time to tell them.