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A Name Worth Remembering

Most of us do not recognize the name Saman Kunan.  But then, we don’t know many of our own military personnel by name.  Saman was from Thailand and had served his country as a Navy SEAL.  He was retired from being a SEAL but continued to help in volunteer situations.

When the word came that a soccer team and their coach were trapped in the Tham Luang cave, various groups of people from many nations gathered to strategize a way to rescue the 12 young soccer players trapped about two miles deep in the earth in Thailand.  The boys and their coach had been cut off from their exit due to water rising rapidly that blocked the way out.  There was not a good or easy way for the team to make an escape.  At one place, the opening was so narrow that the divers had to remove their air tanks and push them through as the diver trailed behind the tank.

Saman had made a trip back to the players to take air tanks to the boys that were in a low oxygen situation in the relatively small “room” where they were located.  The boys had been trapped in the cave for over two weeks and all of them were weak from lack of food, the temperature of the cave, and insufficient oxygen levels where they were trapped.

Sadly, when Saman was returning from where the boys were in the cave, it is believed he ran out of oxygen and passed out.  His diving partner tried to resuscitate him in the water, but it was hopeless.  Saman Kunan had given his life to try to save others.

The coach knew of the sacrifices being made to attempt rescue operations. He had done many things to help the boys that he had taken on (what he intended to be) a brief cave exploration. He gave them his food to eat so they could have strength.  As a result, he had not eaten for several days.  He showed them how to get water from the walls of the cave in order to have water to sustain them.  He had kept their morale high by continually telling them that they would be rescued.  And, he wrote a letter to the parents of the boys to apologize for getting them into a life-threatening situation.  In case he did not make it out alive, he wanted the parents to know that he was truly sorry for the anguish he had caused them.  He realized the danger involved in getting these young men out.  Saman’s death was not told the team until they were all out safely knowing that it would create fear in the hearts of the boys if they knew a rescuer had died trying to get out of the cave.

As I read this story, several spiritual parallels came to mind.  The rescue was a multi-national coalition that came together with one objective…. get those boys out.  The unifying factor was not contingent on being in complete agreement politically.  They did not speak the same language.  They were not there out of their countries’ command.  They willingly came together to rescue the perishing and were successful in their united effort.  Unity of purpose is the foundation also in a soul-winning, vibrant church.

They were all trained in rescue operations and knew the rudiments of what had to be done.  They chose to plan together on the strategy that would work best before they executed the plan.  How many times has your church had training events to equip the saints in “rescuing” those who are dying in sin?  How many times has the average Christian heard the Gospel shared in church, but has never shared with even one person to attempt to rescue them from destruction?  What if these military and civilian people that were trained had never entered the cave?  Not one of those trapped would have been saved.

And, one man was willing to pay with his life to rescue others.  Most of us are not willing to even risk being rejected.  Our fear of someone turning a deaf ear to us keeps many from finding their way out of despair to Jesus.  We don’t know Saman’s name well, but we do know Jesus’ name! And, because He gave His life to save those trapped in the darkness of sin, His name is able to save to the uttermost them that believe!