Letter from St Mark's House

St Mark's House

August - September 2018


Dear friends

'It's coming home'

but sadly the hope of the ‘Three Lions’ anthem chant was not fulfilled this year, although the team’s performance did much to heal the '30 years of hurt' that has dogged the English game. Gareth Southgate and his team generated a new respect and spirit which, it is hoped, will be met with faithful and not fickle support. At the same time as our interest was aroused by the fortunes of our national team, attention was riveted by the fate of another football team six thousand miles away, and hope for their 'coming home'.

The ‘Wild Boars’ football team with its 25-year-old coach, Ake Chantawong, had gone to explore a local tourist attraction in Thailand. They had no idea of the mortal danger they would face when entering the challenging cave system which can be suddenly and severely flooded during the rainy season. A downpour trapped them for 18 days, 1.2 miles into the cave, half a mile below ground. They were stranded in the dark tunnel, surrounded by water, until discovered by an expert caver. The escape route is extremely dangerous and a former Thai Navy SEAL, Saman Gunan, died trying to reach the group. An international team of expert divers was convened to plan and execute the ensuing complex and costly rescue effort, which was followed by the whole world. Ake was the last one out and was among the weakest in the group because he gave his food to the boys and showed them how to drink condensed water from the cave’s walls. One of his friends said 'He loved the boys more than himself'.

The ‘Wild Boars’ practise on a field at the Baag Jong Church, which houses a Compassion International centre which was used as a base for the rescue. Among those celebrating were the parents of a boy sponsored through Compassion’s ministry. His mother spoke for them all when she said, 'I’m so happy to see my son again. Thank you God. Thank you everyone that has been praying for us and the boys and helping us.'

In an age of many disheartening news stories, the story of how rescuers, countries and diverse people came together in selfless commitment for a common cause is truly inspiring. The sacrificial acts of love shown by Saman and Ake are deeply challenging in an age which seems self-absorbed. They are also a reminder of a far greater rescue from a far greater danger from which we cannot save ourselves. As Isaiah wrote, 'the people living in darkness have seen a great light' (Isaiah 9v2, the Bible) – the light of Christ, who came to rescue us from our dead-end tunnels and lead us into the liberty of those who are …

…'coming home'

Nick and Harriet