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saving Jonah

Guild An evening with Andrew Don - 8 February 

Story and photos - Agnes Ovenstone

On Monday 8 February the Guild welcomed Margaret Webster, our visiting elder to our meeting. Our speaker for the evening was Rev Andrew Don.  His talk was called Jonah "A Fishy Tale".

He told us how when Jonah was on board a ship he had told the sailors to throw him overboard when a  big storm came up as he was to blame because he had run away from the Lord. Instead the sailors tried to get the ship to the shore but the storm was getting worse so they asked for the Lord's forgiveness and threw Jonah overboard.

The Lord then commanded a big fish to swallow Jonah and he was inside for three days and nights.  Jonah prayed and thanked the Lord for saving him from drowning and promised to always obey him so then the Lord ordered the fish to spit him up onto the beach.

We sometimes find tales like this difficult to understand.  Is it possible that a man could actually survive inside a whale?

Andrew then told us that the records of the British Admiralty testify that James Bartley, an apprentice seaman on a whaler, was swallowed by a whale in February 1891, some two hundred miles east of the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. This is his amazing tale.

A huge sperm whale was spotted so the small boats were lowered and set off to reach their prey.  James was in the boat which reached the whale first but the whale dived and when it surfaced again it crashed down on the boat. Another boat picked up the survivors but James Bartley and another man were missing. 

When the now dead whale floated to the surface it had to be cut up at once because of the hot weather. While they were doing this they noticed something moving in the stomach so the captain called the ship's doctor. 

When he cut the stomach open inside was an unconscious but alive man - James Bartley. It was a month before he was able to tell what had happened to him in his terrifying experience.

He had spent fifteen hours inside the whale's stomach and as a result he lost all the hair on his body and was blind for the rest of his life.  His skin was bleached to an unnatural whiteness that gave the appearance of being bloodless, although he was healthy. He never made another trip to sea and died eighteen years after his remarkable survival and terrifying adventure.  His tombstone in Gloucester says "James Bartley - a modern day Jonah"

What an interesting evening we had and a thought provoking one too.

The Guild meets again on Monday 7 March for a Coffee Evening with the 'Ageing Well' Choir. The season ends on Monday 21 March with the AGM and Bingo.  Both in the Church Hall starting at 7.30pm

Checkout the Guild programme for the next event

Penicuik: St. Mungo's Parish Church (Church of Scotland). Scottish Charity No SC005838