Ida Lewis is the most celebrated lighthouse keeper in American history. Born in Newport, Rhode Island, on February 25, 1842, her father was appointed keeper of the Lime Rock Lighthouse in Newport in 1854. However, in less than four months he suffered a stroke, so his family had to take over his duties and Ida would play a key role.
By the age of 14, she became one of the best swimmers in all of Newport. She also rowed her siblings to school every weekday in a wooden boat. It was her rowing and swimming skills that would come in handy in the years to come. She and her mother ran the lighthouse from 1857 until 1872 when her father died.
Ida’s mother became the “official” keeper, but Ida was very involved in the work as well and even more so as her mother’s health began to fail. When her mother died in 1879, she was finally named keeper of the lighthouse. Her first rescue took place in the fall of 1858, when she was 16. A sailboat capsized on a cold, wintry day. Four young men struggled to hold on in the cold waters until Ida arrived in her small boat and pulled them all to safety. Her most famous rescue was in 1869 when she rescued two soldiers who became victims of an overturned boat in the Newport Harbor during a fierce snowstorm. A 14-year old companion had drowned before Ida arrived.
She is credited with 18 rescues during her 39 years of service but some estimate the number at twice that. She kept no records and was hesitant to discuss her accomplishments. Ida died of a stroke in 1911, while on duty, at the age of 69. More than 1,400 people came to the Thames Street Methodist Church to pay their respects and say good-bye.
She knew her number one job was to rescue those who would perish without her help.
In 1924, the Rhode Island legislature officially changed the name of Lime Rock to Ida Lewis Rock and the Lime Rock Lighthouse was changed to the Ida Lewis Lighthouse — the only lighthouse in the United States named for one of its keepers. It is now home to the Ida Lewis Yacht Club.
Ida Lewis made sure the light in the lighthouse was always shining and knew her number one job was to rescue those who would perish without her help.
The church of the Lord, Jesus Christ, has a similar and even more important assignment. We’re to be “the light of the world “ and to “let our light so shine …” One of the best ways we get to do that is through our annual Hallelujah Carnival. It’s a HUGE opportunity for us to let our light shine in a dark world and reach out and rescue not just children, but entire families, with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It all begins in just a few days and we’ll need over 2,000 people to help us pull it off.
So what kind of individuals are we looking for?
People like Ida Lewis.
© 2017. Barry L. Cameron
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Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.