28th May 2021

Often we have no idea of the outcome of a small kindness we have done for someone but, a bit like the mustard seed in the parable, the growth can be great.

Do you remember the rescue of the boys from the caves in Thailand in 2018? One of the two British cavers who found the boys has just published a book and the Sunday Times had a piece about Adul Sam-on, one of the boys who was 14 at the time. He was a keen footballer, but a stateless refugee whose Christian parents living in Myanmar on the troubled border had sent him alone aged 11 to a Christian pastor in northern Thailand to get him away from civil war and child militias.

Stanton and Volanthen had gone into the caves to the limit of their safety line but risked going a little further and smelled humans. Volanthen called to Stanton “How many?” but a voice from the cave said “Thirteen” in ENGLISH. There was an English speaker among the twelve boys of the football team and their coach! Adul, living in a church hostel, had practised English with missionaries at the church whenever he could. He could translate for the rescuers.

This small kindness of a Christian missionary finding time for Adul’s English (and the boy’s parents’ courage in sending him to Thailand alone) paid unexpected dividends.

P.S. Adul was given citizenship by the Thai Government so is no longer stateless and an American school gave him a scholarship to study there because he could already speak English.

Margaret Clements