TAUBATÉ, Brazil (BNc) — The helicopter had left with its crew from the Army base in the city of Taubate, in Sao Paulo state. It was flying Thursday, Jan. 20, over three neighborhoods in the city of Nova Friburgo, in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Over 700 people died in the region because of rains and mudslides earlier in the week.

Two military personnel and three civilians were aboard the aircraft.

The pilot was Ricardo Santos, a brother in Christ who participates with his family in the congregation in Taubaté.

As they arrived at the third neighborhood in Nova Friburgo, Ricardo felt a loss of power in the helicopter, which ceased responding to his controls. The captain at his side assumed command of the craft and managed a forced landing on a huge pile of manure, which softened the impact.

A nine-year-old girl filmed the accident, which occurred near a food distribution center for the city. The crew and passengers underwent medical evaluation and were soon released. Ricardo arrived home on Saturday.

Ricardo (right) shows a helicopter to fellow saints Jorge dos Santos, BNc editor Randal Matheny, and elder Mike Hughes

Ricardo had been scheduled to preach today, Jan. 23, in the Taubaté congregation, and he fulfilled his duty, using his experience as the basis for his message. He used Psalm 90:12 as his text, “So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.”

He spoke of God’s providence being present at the moment of the accident, so that the five people on board were not seriously injured. He read Psalm 91 as an expression of his confidence in God.

He said that what should be reported about him, besides his physical well-being, was that “the Lord saved me.”

Often, the preacher, as the last to speak on Sunday in the Taubaté congregation, also closes with a prayer. Ricardo also prayed today, with this phrase: “Men fail, and machines fail, but you, O Lord, are always present with us.”

Translated and adapted from the Portuguese Brazilian site Alcanceweb.com.

Randal and his wife Vicki have lived and worked in Brazil since Nov. 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren. He likes to read novels in his back-porch hammock. http://randal.us