Last week the world witnessed the courageous cave rescue of twelve members of the now-famous Wild Boars youth soccer team. Here are three remarkable lessons for us.
Lesson One: The resilience of hope
The day began full of promise. Saturday, June 23 was Peerapat “Night” Sompiangjai’s 17th birthday. While a Sponge Bob birthday cake and presents awaited him at home, he was celebrating with his coach and teammates. They drove their bikes and left their gear outside the entrance to the Tham Luang Nang Non cave. They had explored the cave many times. This time water from recent rains running off the mountain trapped them forcing them to find a small shelf for shelter. The boys dug out of the mud enough space for all twelve of them and their 25-year-old coach to wait.
The coach, a former monk, taught the boys to stay calm, meditate, conserve air and drink water dripping in the cave. They sat in dark silence hoping for rescue.
The true heroes of the cave rescue were the thirteen trapped in darkness for two weeks without food or resources. They had one another. These young people remind us of the power of friends in the midst of great uncertainty. They remind us that none of us know what a day holds.
The universal need for hope
Elsewhere in the world children wake up and begin a journey out of darkness. Threats of rape, kidnapping and murder compel them to leave Central America to seek asylum in the United States. They find hope in being together as family. Then they were separated. Several thousand kids forcibly separated from their parents, thrown into a pen not much better than a cave before being placed in foster care across the United States.
Fifty seven of the 103 children under the age of five were reunited with their parents this week. But hundreds more hold onto the hope of being rescued.
Every day people wake up without any idea of a coming calamity. A job is lost, a major health crisis arises, an accident, abandonment, abuse, exploitation. Facing the unknown and often without resources these neighbors represent the resilience of humanity. Many of these circumstances intersect with legal issues. Overwhelmed they press on in hope searching for rescue.
Lesson Two: Rallying a team
When the parents realized their children were trapped in the cave, they sought help. That help would grow to include an assistant coach, an Australian physician, a handful of Thailand’s navy Seals, and 100 determined professional first responders and volunteers. As the rescuers used drones, dogs and divers to locate the boys, parents prayed. An entire nation and world prayed.
The challenges were significant. Continuing rain was filling the caves. Massive pumps were required to control the water. The water in the cave was muddy eliminating any visibility for divers. Oxygen tanks were required. One diver died. But together a team of people put in a rope line and organized the rescue effort. One medic and three seals stayed with the boys to assure them. When the time came they provided them with anti-anxiety medicine to help keep them calm for the difficult dive ahead.
Gospel Justice Initiative believes in building justice communities together. No one does rescue alone. Many problems are complex and require a team of professionals along with other volunteers to address. This past week we joined volunteer lawyers at the border interviewing children for asylum claims. That these children are forced to be separated from families and then forced to argue their own case for asylum is tragic. No distraught three year old should be required to be her own attorney. We need prayers and support from others to change that.
The United States ranks 97th in the world for providing access to justice. Thailand ranks far ahead of us. Every second someone needing legal help and direction is unable to find it. They wait for rescue from confusing circumstances, only none comes. They feel as though they are alone in the dark. But every Saturday across America in 75 site locations people find hope. They find a team of professional and other volunteers coming together in prayer and service to help rescue neighbors from fear and restore them through a plan of action.
Be part of this rescue team. Help us reduce fear and provide a plan of restoration. Contact us to learn more.
Lesson Three: Rejoice in rescue
Many secretly believed rescue was not possible. They felt the pain of the parents helplessly trusting complete strangers for the fate of their sons. But then one by one the boys emerged from the cave. All twelve along with their coach are doing well and should be restored to their families this week. Across the country and the world, people rejoiced.
There are many times circumstances seem bleak. Whether a parent or a concerned person we can believe hope is lost. Stories like the cave rescue remind us to persevere and never give up. Never lose hope. We must continue to fight for the reunification of families. We must persevere on behalf of the vulnerable. Parents across America fear for their children caught in abuse or neglect. We fight for these children to establish stability. We advocate to see neighbors rescued from a dark legal system and restored in community.
Like the boys on the soccer team, we admire the courage and resilience of those facing hardship. We long to pull together teams of people to help. We pray. Then we never give up hope that there can be justice for all. We celebrate with our neighbors as they move out of darkness into hope. We rejoice with them as they emerge stronger on the other side of the legal conflict.
Like the boys, who expressed their gratitude by video, we find deep gratitude in those we are blessed to come alongside. “Thank you for being there when no one else would help,” said one person recently. We must follow the example of brave rescuers and enter into the challenges of those near us. Jesus did that. He is our ultimate example of a courageous, humble servant. Jesus rescued us so we could help rescue and restore others. Join Jesus invitation.
“But this is a people plundered and looted; they are all of them trapped in holes and hidden in prisons; they have become plunder with none to rescue, spoil with none to say, ‘Restore!” Isa. 42:22.
Thank you to all the brave volunteers who risked everything to save these resilient young soccer players. May we take a lesson from them and risk something for those near us.