The Incredible Story Of The Red Suit

A Purim Story

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the Holy Days is dedicated in the loving memory of Mrs. Ethel Sakash Belk, may she rest in peace.

Many, many years ago as a young military man serving the United States of America I had the opportunity to visit what was then known as Hong Kong. While there I purchased many items of clothing: two pairs of custom-made leather boots, two tailor made white suits with extra slacks, a tailor made gold sports coat and brown slacks and a tailor-made, bright red suit. At the time my flair for clothing was out of control. I was outrageous.

But one must consider the fact that I was a very committed Christian / Messianic who led prayer groups, studies and missionary efforts everywhere I went in the United States and outside the United States. One must consider that I was a Jew outside of my natural environment. I enjoyed touring from city to city speaking about Jesus in my RED SUIT to large and small gatherings, to anyone who would listen. I was a sincere zealot who loved to entertain large groups. As a zealot I committed my entire life to G-d. Everything I owned was for His purpose, even my custom-made clothing. I was a fanatic!

One day months later, while anchored offshore in the Philippines, returning from off-duty, I was informed that our ship had experienced an enormous fire. The fire evidently began in the fo'c'sle {front} of the ship and moved towards the fantail {back of the ship}. A shipmate stated that the fire began in the medical storage locker next to my storage area, the commissary dry goods storage.

At the time it didn't matter to me. My first reaction was great! I thought this would result in more shore time, more liberty and more opportunities to missionize! What an opportunity...

As I sat waiting for the water taxi, listening to members of the crew discuss the fire, it was exciting. Their stories of how seventeen rescue and assistance support ships were required were fascinating. They told of how several well known aircraft carriers were ordered out of the harbor due to the potential of our ship, an oil tanker, exploding. Shipmates told of floor tile and the soles of their shoes melting. They said that number ten size cans exploded, that rice bags turning to rocks and that steam poured out as pumpers forced water in. They told me that my entire storage area was destroyed. Stories of general quarters {"All hands, man your battle stations!"} and orders for all hands to prepare to abandon ship were told. It was some fire.

Our taxi arrived. We boarded. As we were taxiing towards our ship, all of a sudden it hit me. Dear reader, my custom-made clothing was stored in the commissary dry storage area that reportedly was destroyed. My heart hit the deck! I felt sick! Thoughts of my custom-made clothing being ruined, destroyed flattened me. I again asked a friend about the storage area. He said in no uncertain terms, "Your entire storage area was destroyed by fire and flooded by water."

As I sorrowfully held onto the side of the water taxi, I heard this voice. The voice said to me, "I thought you gave everything to Me." Immediately I remembered that prayer to G-d, as I walked with tears in my eyes with my hands and arms raised along the pier our ship was moored next to, as I prayed to G-d in Japan. Promptly after the voice spoke to me my concerns dissolved. The clothes didn't belong to me. They belonged to G-d! I lost nothing. I felt the assurance that everything would be fine.

We were now about a quarter of a mile from our ship. A burnt stench flooded the air. As we closed the gap, the horrid smell of our ship's smoke damage greatly increased. After boarding the ship I went directly to the dry storage area while still dressed in my civvies. It was generally as my shipmates had described. The forward storage was destroyed with one exception. My custom-made clothing was spared, including THE RED SUIT! In fact it was stored in the highest location in the storage area. It was stored on top of a television set which was stored on top of a beam, placing it against the ceiling. Neither fire, water, steam nor smoke damage touched this package or its contents. Everything else was completely ruined but G-d protected my custom suits. Little did I know then that it was for a day like today.

I removed the package from its location then took it to my office near the fantail and opened it and examined the contents. There was no smoke damage. The outside of the package did not even have water drops, water spray or damage of any kind.

Now, years later, all that's left from all the custom-made clothing is the RED SUIT that I still wear on Purim. I wear it as a tribute to how G-d protected and delivered His people on Purim many, many years ago. I wear it as a reminder that not only did G-d protect my RED SUIT from all types of destruction, but thank G-d, the Creator of this universe, blessed be His Name, also delivered the Jew, the Messianic Jew who wore that RED SUIT and returned him to Yiddishkeit!!

Wishing you the best this Purim,

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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