All 12 boys along with their soccer coach have been rescued from the cave in Thailand, having been stuck inside for over two weeks, in a story that has gripped the world. And some Christians there say the events have served as an opportunity for sharing the Gospel.
The third phase of the high-risk operation was completed successfully Tuesday, as 19 divers entered the cave and extracted the four remaining boys and their coach, CBS reported. The rescue operation Tuesday lasted nine hours, from the time when the divers first entered the cave until the last person was brought out.
The other eight boys emerged Sunday and Monday. Ranging in age from 11 to 16, the young boys went exploring in the cave in the Chiang Rai province of the Southeast Asian country more than weeks ago and got trapped inside due to monsoon flooding. Rescuers could not locate them for nearly 10 days because of the high waters.
All of the "Wild Boars," the name of the soccer team, have been hospitalized and will remain so for weeks due to weakened immune systems, reports indicate. Authorities will also likely look for signs of Histoplasmosis, which is known as "cave disease," an infection that is "caused by breathing in spores of a fungus often found in bird and bat droppings," according to the Mayo Clinic.
President Trump congratulated the Thai Navy Seals Tuesday morning, calling the rescue "such a beautiful moment."
Bryan Kaui-Pai, who helps lead Grace Bangkok Church in the capital of the country, told Premier News Hour Monday the nation was exuberant as each boy was rescued.
"When they were found it was almost like a big sigh of relief as a country," Kaui-Pai said.
"It's like 'wow, they're still alive, all of them are still alive. Wow.'"
He believes that God played a role in the rescue mission and his church prayed during the process though when he first heard the news he was overwhelmed at first and did not know how to pray.
"If they're alive, keep them alive," he recalled praying.
"God was in that ... I'm believing that He was, and somehow we'll be able to use this as a launch-off point for us in discussing with other Thai people the gospel of Jesus Christ."
Likewise, last week British missionary to Thailand Ewan McGregor told Premier that it had been a very spiritual time in the nation with "so many Christian families praying and the Buddhist families doing their prayers," he said, "so it's a great time to share the gospel with the Thai people."
The rescue operation was exceedingly difficult and hundreds of experts from around the globe were flown in over the past 18 days to facilitate the process. The unfolding story captured the attention of the world as the malnourished boys, some of whom did not know how to swim, were brought out of the cave.
"This is the hardest mission we've ever done. The lower the water is getting, the stronger the current. It's stronger now. Every step of the extraction is risky," said Narongsuk Keasub, a diver for the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, speaking of the process.