Christians from all around the Chiang Rai District of northern Thailand gathered on Sunday, July 22, to praise God for the dramatic rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach, including one Compassion-assisted youth, after being trapped more than a week in a flooded cave system.

The majority of the soccer team participated in a Buddhist ceremony* on July 24, but Compassion-assisted youth Adun chose to worship God at a special thanksgiving service held at Compassion partner church TH0373. Although nearly 95 per cent of Thailand’s population is Buddhist, there is a small minority of Christians in the country—about one per cent of the population—who live peacefully with their Buddhist neighbours.

Local governors, officers and those who participated in rescue operations attended the service to thank God for the safe return of the Wild Boar soccer team.

During the thanksgiving service, Adun shared a moving testimony with those gathered of what it was like to be in the cave.

A boy in a yellow shirt holds a microphone and speaks to a group at the front of a church.

“By the tenth night, we were losing patience, hope, physical energy and courage. We could not do anything to help. The only thing that I could do was pray. I prayed ‘Lord, I’m only a boy; you are almighty God, you are holy, and you are powerful. Right now I can’t do anything; may you protect us. Come to help all thirteen of us.’ And then I finished my prayer, thanking God for everything that happened to myself and my friends…all thirteen of us.”

“Thank you to everybody who prayed for me and the whole team,” Adun said. “Thank you to everybody that helped us, and the last thank you [goes] to the Lord: thank you God. God bless you all.”

Adun and all present also remembered and offered prayers for Saman Kunan, the Thai navy seal who died during the rescue operation.

A couple smiles wearing brightly colored traditional clothing.

Adun’s parents were special guests of the event, who came dressed in traditional ethnic Lua garb.

“God is great love and there’s nothing He can’t do,” his parents said in a previous interview. (Watch the video of Adun’s parents thanking God after they learned the soccer team was found!)

A group of youth sing and play guitar on a church stage.

Other youth from the church had the honour of leading all those who gathered in worship. It was a time of joy, fellowship and thanksgiving to God.

Prayer requests

What’s next for Adun? His church family and Compassion centre will continue to minister to him and are working towards helping him gain citizenship. Here are ways you can be praying for Adun, the church, and all of the boys.

  • Pray Adun and all of his teammates will continue to heal, learn and grow in this season of life.
  • Pray the citizenship process for Adun will be completed successfully and quickly.
  • Pray for this church as they continue to minister to the needs in their community.

Full names of individuals and the church are not used to protect their privacy.

*The opinions expressed in external links do not necessarily reflect those of Compassion.

Field reporting and photos by Piyamary Shinoda

What is Compassion?

As one of the world’s leading child development organizations, Compassion partners with the local church in 25 countries to end poverty in the lives of children and their families. Today, nearly two million children and their families are discovering lives full of promise and purpose as they develop in all aspects of their lives—minds, bodies and relationships—while discovering God’s love for them.

Written by: Amber Van Schooneveld

Amber Van Schooneveld is the Managing Editor of Compassion International's blog.