Last week was all about soccer – football, as the rest of the world calls it. I don’t mean the world cup, although billions of people around the world watched global powerhouses get eliminated, one by one, as unexpected winners emerged. The biggest soccer news of the week, though, came from Thailand. A team of teenagers and their coach got trapped in a dangerous cave for 16 days and were finally rescued by a multi-national team of experts (click here to read the whole story).
This story had a happy ending, although one rescuer lost his life during the process. Reflecting on the kids’ ordeal and the rescue efforts made me think of God’s plan of salvation and our calling to “preach the Gospel to all creation.” People without Christ are like the boys and their coach, trapped in a dark and sinful world without a way out. Water is rising and the air is running out. Unless someone comes to the rescue, they will one day face eternity away from God.
We Can Do Our Part
You and I can’t rescue everyone, but the story of those around us can still have a happy ending. The same powerful Gospel that rescued us from our own “dark cave,” can bring our family, friends, and neighbors to the light of the abundant life Christ promises. Here are five things we can do to help rescue those in darkness:
1. Bring in the Experts. Experienced divers and rescuers from all over the world flew to Thailand to help. Having been in the cave of sin and death Christ came to rescue us, we may not be “experts,” but we have the experience needed to rescue people.
2. Dive In. The first thing rescuers did was dive in and go to the boys. The application for evangelism is clear: Let’s not expect people will somehow come out of the cave they got themselves in. Let’s dive through murky waters of the world to meet people where they are.
3. Take Risks. Going means getting out of the comfort zone of “this side” of the cave. Just this week one of ILI’s partners was threatened at gunpoint in Nicaragua when helping lead a training conference. He didn’t have to be there, but he chose to take risks for the sake of those who needed to hear the Gospel.
4. Work in Cooperation. The team that rescued the kids included Navy seals, fire fighters, well diggers, cave explorers, and thousands of others who showed up to help. To evangelize to non-believers requires a team effort. As Paul said, some sow the seed, others water, and God gives the growth.
5. Teach Them the Way Out. The most fascinating element of this rescue is that, in order to get the kids out, the experts had to teach each of them how to use the diving equipment and then lead them out. In evangelism, this step looks like discipleship. It is an essential part of the process, to teach people how to dive through the murkiness of their sin and darkness to the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Imagine the experience these 12 teenagers had during their ordeal: pain, cold, fear, hopelessness. Now, picture people lost, without Christ and without hope in the world.
Total darkness, no exit, no help.
The same urgency that motivated rescuers to flock to Thailand to rescue the “Wild Boars” football team should drive us to take the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the world.