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Monday, March 2, 2020

An Amazing Rescue

By David A. Sargent

     On June 23, 2018, twelve members of an 11- to 16-year-old Thailand soccer team – the Wild Boars – and their coach ventured into Thailand’s Tham Luang Cave. They had been in the cave before; this time they were there for an adventure to celebrate one of the boy’s birthdays. Their adventure turned into a near-tragedy and thankfully an amazing rescue.
     Then monsoon rains came and once-accessible caverns were flooded. The boys and their coach found refuge in a narrow passageway above the flooded areas. They were trapped more than a mile underground in the deep recesses of the cave and no one knew their exact whereabouts.
     Then help from all over the world began to pour in, seeking to rescue the boys and their coach. An estimated 10,000 people participated, including 2,000 soldiers, 200 divers and representatives from approximately 100 government agencies. In addition to hundreds of personnel from Thailand, including Navy SEALS and volunteer divers, rescue workers also came to help from other countries including Finland, Britain, China, Australia, and the United States.
     Navy SEAL and volunteer divers painstakingly penetrated the cave in search of the soccer team, securing guidelines along the way to ensure their safety. On July 2, 10 days after the boys entered the cavern, a pair of British divers working to extend a network of guide ropes in water-filled passageways, popped up near a narrow ledge. And there they were: 13 emaciated people perched in the dark but incredibly thankful to have been found. Now they had to be rescued.
     The mile-long stretch between the start and the rescue base, much of which was completely underwater, took about two hours to traverse. Each of the boys was strapped into a stretcher and carried out. Different methods were used to navigate the team members out of the cave. At times, divers had to shuttle them underwater in “cocoons.” The rescue team also used suspended ropes and carabiners to guide each stretcher across jagged peaks and valleys. In one leg of the escape, the cocoons were placed on floating stretchers and Thai frogmen pushed them along. To navigate a wet downhill, the rescue team slid each boy on a stretcher on top of the thick hoses that had been used to pump water out of the cave. Teams of 4-6 rescuers operated a relay on steep, dangerous down hills.
     As a result of these heroic efforts, all twelve boys and their coach were rescued. The last of the boys emerged on July 10th, 18 days after he and his teammates entered the cave.
     Because of our sin, you and I were a lot like that soccer team: trapped, and without a rescuer, doomed to die.
     But God loves us so much that He sent His Son to rescue us! In order to rescue us, Jesus had to die on the cross for our sins (1 John 4:9-10). Because of His atoning death, we can be saved from our sins and receive the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).
     God will save and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38). God will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).
     The rescue of those twelve boys and their coach was amazing! Their rescue pictures an even more marvelous rescue mission: when God’s one and only Son came to this earth and died on the cross for our sins so that we can be saved from eternal destruction.
     Won’t YOU accept His offer of salvation and eternal life on His terms?

- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled "Living Water."  To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org

* Information gleaned from “‘Still Can’t Believe It Worked’: TheStory of the Thailand Cave Rescue” by Hannah Beech, Richard C. Paddock, and Muktita Suhartono, in The New York Times, July 12, 2018, www.nytimes.com.



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