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!