Thai Cave Rescue – The Other Side of the Story

The world watched with bated breath as the last of the 12 boys and their soccer coach emerged from the cave in northern Thailand where they had been trapped by flood water. We heaved a collective sigh of relief as what could have been a disaster turned into a rescue operation with a miraculous happy ending.

My brother received a LINE message from his former classmate, a Thai Chinese who returned to Thailand soon after high school graduation. He offered another perspective into the whole incident which is not reported in western media. Some may call it coincidence, but to others it’s providence as too many things converge to attribute it to chance. I have no means of verifying whether this is “fake news” or not, but here are the points for you to ponder:

1. The 25-year-old soccer coach had lived 8 years as a monk, sometimes spending time alone meditating in caves as a spiritual discipline. There he learned how to get clean water which won’t cause sickness, and how to sit still to conserve energy. This was instrumental in keeping the boys alive when they underwent imposed fasting for nearly 10 days before they were discovered and food was delivered to them. And they were polite and orderly in total darkness!

2. By law the premier of the province Chiang Rai became the commander-in-chief of the rescue operation. He majored in geologic survey in university. His knowledge of land structures of the area was very helpful in planning the rescue.

3. The British cave diver John Volanthen who first found the missing boys said “I often wondered why I was so fascinated with cave diving. When I found the boys, I knew God had prepared me all my life to do this very thing!”

4. After the boys went missing for 10 days, British and other divers volunteered to fly to Chiang Rai to join the search and rescue effort. Several retired divers crawled and dived for hours trying to locate the kids in darkness. They had come to the end of the rescue rope they were carrying, so Volanthen emerged from the muddy water to observe his surroundings, and found 13 pairs of eyes staring at him. Had the rope run out 5 meters earlier or later, he would have missed the boys. God really has His own mysterious ways to perform miracles.

5. After the boys were found, the only English-speaking boy out of the entire group became the contact with the foreign divers. It turned out he was born in northern Burma, adopted by a Christian family, who provided for and schooled him such that he was fluent in 4 languages – Thai, Burmese, English and Putonghua. He became the fulcrum upon which communication turned.

6. After the rescue all 13 of them were sent to the nearest hospital for treatment and observation. It turned out about a year earlier a young Thai singer launched a charity event “One Person One Step” to walk from the southern to the northern tip of Thailand, a distance of about 3,000 km. The target was to raise 700 million Baht (about C$27 million) to equip 14 hospitals. 1.5 billion Baht (about C$59 million) were raised, with each hospital receiving about C$4.2 million. One of the recipients was the hospital to which the 13 were sent. Without that funding, they would not be equipped to serve the sudden influx of so many people. And the name of the singer? His nickname is “Wild Boar”, the same as the team of the 12 boys!

7. One more point about the coach. When photos of the 13 were broadcast on social media, people noticed that the coach looked particularly gaunt. It turned out that he gave all the food he had with him to the 12 boys, who did not bring anything as they had expected to spend only one hour to explore it, but were trapped by the monsoon flood. However, he was recognized by a woman in mainland China as her half-brother (same father, different mother) whom she had lost contact for 10 years. When the family broke up, her relatives brought her back to China, while her brother stayed in Thailand, but they lost contact. Later when she read her aunt’s message to her brother encouraging him to stay strong to protect the kids, she was sure it was him. She contacted the authorities and will be reunited with her half-brother, so the ordeal turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Rom 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!


Fate (2 of 2)

fate 1

(Continued from yesterday)

Regarding providence, let me quote from Easton’s Bible Dictionary: “God preserves and governs all things by means of second causes. His providence extends to the natural world:
Ps 104:14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth,
• Acts 14:17 and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.

the brute creation:
Mt 6:26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
• Mt 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.

the affairs of men:
Prov 21:1 The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.
• Job 12:23 He makes the nations great, then destroys them; He enlarges the nations, then leads them away.
• Dan 2:21 It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding.

and of individuals:
1 Sam 2:6 The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up.
• Jas 4:13-15 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

It extends also to the free actions of men:
Ex 12:36 and the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
• Ps 33:14-15 From His dwelling place He looks out On all the inhabitants of the earth, He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works.
• Prov 19:21 Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the LORD will stand.

and things sinful:
2 Sam 24:1 Now again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”
• Rom 11:32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.

as well as to their good actions:
Eph 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
• Php 2:13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

As regards sinful actions of men, they are represented as occurring by God’s permission:
Gen 45:5 Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.
• Acts 3:18 But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.

and as controlled and overruled for good:
Job 1:12 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” …
• Job 2:6 So the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.”
• Gen 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

God does not cause or approve of sin, but only limits, restrains, overrules it for good.

So Christians recognize divine providence, not fate. Furthermore, we have responsibility before God for our actions. We can do something about it, and not just accept what seems to be inevitable.

Fate (1 of 2)

fate 2

Q. How do you Christians view fate? So many things are happening in the world right now and we can’t do anything about it. Is it inevitable?

A. First, let’s define our terms. By fate people generally mean “the development of events beyond a person’s control, regarded as determined by a supernatural power.” Furthermore, this power is usually regarded as an impersonal force, which people sometimes call “destiny“, or “karma“.

Second, let’s look at what the Bible has to say. The word “fate” appears in the NASB 9 times in 8 verses:

Num 16:29 If these men die the death of all men or if they suffer the fate of all men, then the LORD has not sent me.
• Job 18:20 “Those in the west are appalled at his fate, And those in the east are seized with horror.
• Eccle 2:14-15 The wise man’s eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I know that one fate befalls them both. Then I said to myself, “As is the fate of the fool, it will also befall me. Why then have I been extremely wise?” So I said to myself, “This too is vanity.”
• Eccle 3:19 For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity.
• Eccle 9:2-3 It is the same for all. There is one fate for the righteous and for the wicked; for the good, for the clean and for the unclean; for the man who offers a sacrifice and for the one who does not sacrifice. As the good man is, so is the sinner; as the swearer is, so is the one who is afraid to swear. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one fate for all men. Furthermore, the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil and insanity is in their hearts throughout their lives. Afterwards they go to the dead.
• Lk 13:2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate?

Notice the following:
• There is one fate for all men – death. The Bible does not recognize fate in the affairs of men. Whether they are wise or foolish, men or beast, righteous or wicked, good or sinner, clean or unclean, devout or irreligious, all die. In this sense fate as death is inevitable.
• This end result is always in the passive sense, never an active agent in determining the outcome of anything, big or small. The Bible is therefore diametrically opposed to the view that fate is an impersonal force determining people’s destiny. Only God can decide on our “fate”.

In contrast, the Bible teaches that God is sovereign and has plans for our lives, which we call providence:
Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
• Job 10:12 You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.

(To be continued)