LITTLE ROCK, AR - Church members at Crosswalk Family of God are rejoicing that two of their fellow congregation members are safe after jumping from the cruise ship
that wrecked off the coast of Italy.
Mark and Sarah Plath's close friends from church are reacting to the news of their terrifying ordeal, praising God and giving thanks. After hearing what happened on their cruise ship in Italy, friends say panic set in, but now their prayers have been answered.
The Plath's are fine, and looking forward to returning to Arkansas soon. Friends of Mark and Sarah say the couple was so excited about the trip. Described as an adventurous and fun-loving couple, the Plath's are very active in their church. They just married in September. Cathy Shanyefelt says the cruise ship wreck is just unthinkable.
"They were so looking forward to the trip, that it is just so hard to believe that it went awry."
Back home in Little Rock their friends prayed for good news. They eventually heard through media and internet reports the couple jumped ship and swam to safety.
Eric Yates, Teaching Pastor at Crosswalk Family of God, says the fact Mark and Sarah went against the request of the crew to stay with the ship, and the fact that they accessed the situation on their own and decided it was time to get off the ship and swim in the dark doesn't surprise him.
"Anyone who knows them knows they're very athletic and intelligent. They had to make a decision in a critical moment and we're very thankful that they're ok."
Another church member, Hilary Yates, says the rest of the congregation is anxiously awaiting their return home. "They're very strong physically, but also emotionally in their faith, and I think that's what makes them such a strong couple."
Mark and Sarah are working with the American embassy to have passports re-issued so they can return to the United States sometime this week. The congregation hopes to welcome them with open arms at the worship service next Sunday.Sarah's parents
say their daughter told them the only choice was to jump into the cold water. Where they were on the ship went underwater, and Sarah told her parents she and Mark would not have made it if they would have stayed on-board like they were told to.