While the ostentatious World Cup matches were being played in Russia, a real-life spectacular drama unfolded at Mae Sai, Thailand. 12 boys aged 11-16 went with their coach to explore the Tham Luang cave. It was meant to be a leisurely, out-door activity, bringing water and snacks to bond the soccer boys, the Wild Boars and to celebrate one of the boys’ birthday. However they were trapped when the monsoon rains flooded the exit. They kept moving inner and deeper into the cave, until they were 4.2 km from the entrance. To top it all, none of the boys could swim!!! They were trapped! A massive global effort was mobilised and 17 days later, all 13 were miraculously rescued. Here are two (2) powerful lessons the church community can learn from this amazing rescue effort.
1. No Price too Big for One Life
You are priceless. Just as God the Father did not spare His only Son to save sinners like us, no effort nor resources was spared in rescuing these unknown lost boys. The search rapidly grew into an international operation, with specialist cave divers and other support personnel flying in to help. There were more than 10,000 people who participated, including 2,000 soldiers, 200 divers, and representatives from 10 government agencies. A multi-national operation team, involving military and specialist cave divers from Australia, Britain, Japan, Myanmar, Finland, Germany, Laos and China, and with more than 30 US military personnel. Total up the immense expense of this deployment and you can try to understand the great pricelessness of lives.
Saman Kunan, the retired Thai Navy SEAL member who ran out of oxygen in his own tank and died while saving these boys, provided us a very good analogy of many Christians like Jim Elliot (who died in reaching the Inca Indians) and the many who continue to sacrifice their lives for the privilege of winning the lost.
Our Heavenly Father did not spare his son to save us and now we must not spare any expense for the joy and privilege of saving priceless souls for eternity.
2. The Church must have One Common Objective
Despite the vast number of rescuers from more than 10 nations globally, every one of the rescuers had one common objective-to get the 13 lost persons out of the cave.
Thousands of volunteers facilitated everything from rides up to the cave to providing meals for divers. Thai villages also set up coffee stalls and massage stations while international experts set up rescue communications and pumping systems to drain the flooded cave.
A Thai pig farmer, who lives 30 km away, joined the camp and cooked non-stop from 6 am till midnight each day. He made some 400 meals during each shift, providing much of the food himself.
From the British diver who found the lost boys to the volunteers who provided rides and the pig farmers who cooked, to the simple farmers who donated more than a dozen high-powered pumps, these rescuers were of different gender, qualifications, nationalities and cultural background. Despite these differences, the very challenging mission was successful because they were all focussed on this one common objective.
As German cave diver, Nick Volimar, who joined in the mission eloquently puts it, “If we could cooperate globally in every aspect like we do here, almost all of our problems could be solved.”
I hope one day that the body of Christ will be willing to lay down our own agendas, from our worship preferences to our favourite preachers and join the rest of the church to focus on the one common objective of reaching the lost. This drama of the Lost and Found Boys showed me that when the body of Christ join our hearts, minds and hands together for one common objective no matter what our differences are, our mission on earth can be accomplished.
Pastor Ron Hee