This morning at the home office we were privileged to host and hear from Milford, Ohio, resident David Caudill who has served as Deputy Ambassador to Iraq as well as head of Near Eastern Affairs Unit at the American Embassy in Paris, France, for the past three years. I have become acquainted with him through my local Batavia, Ohio, Rotary Club which he visits every time he comes back to Milford to visit.
Mr. Caudill met with our editorial staff in the conference room at 10 a.m. for one hour. We connected Scott Ashley, Tom Robinson, John LaBissoniere and Jerold Aust by video conference. At 11 a.m. he addressed all our home office employees with questions and answers that followed.
Mr. Caudill holds a knowledgeable and authoritative understanding of the world’s geopolitics, having served in diverse locations in Latin America, the Middle East and Europe. He is also a student of the Bible. He is well-read and offered our staff several good reading resources. The discussion was largely interactive with many excellent questions from our staff about NATO, Jerusalem, Afghanistan, President Trump, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, North Korea, China and Russia. His answers to our questions provided an excellent “off-the-record” perspective contrasted from what is commonly seen and heard in the news.
You may remember that back in 2013 he addressed our Ambassador Bible College students. Today he told us that he would be very happy to do that again this coming October when he visits Milford. He is very well predisposed to the United Church of God and our Work.
From LinkedIn, here is David Caudill’s career history: Near Eastern Affairs Unit Chief, Embassy Paris, 2015-18; Political Officer, Consulate General Erbil, Iraq, 2013-14; Political-Military Affairs Officer for Israel, Department of State, 2011-13; Rule of Law Section Chief, Provincial Reconstruction Team, Baghdad, Iraq, 2010-11; Political Officer, Embassy Doha, Qatar, 2008-10; Consular Officer, Embassy Santiago, Chile, 2005-07.
Rescued from Darkness to Light
When I spoke to our Chicago congregation a few weeks ago and read “For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son” in Colossians 1:13 Colossians 1:13 Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
American King James Version×(NLT), I could not help but relate to the dramatic news story of the week. No doubt soon to be a book and movie, this story gripped the world. Twelve young boys and their soccer coach were trapped some 3,000 feet beneath the earth’s surface. They faced almost certain death. Racing anxiously against a looming typhoon season of heavy rains, rescuers tirelessly explored ways to save these young boys from a dark fate of drowning or death from cold exposure. The boys and their coach were miraculously saved after more than two weeks of dark and cold days underground.
What are the important and valuable spiritual lessons that you and I can learn from this experience? Let’s review what happened.
Initially, the odds were fearsome against a successful rescue. Many complex challenges and uncertainty had to be overcome. In the first days of the rescue operation, many were concerned that the boys would never again see the light of day.
The story of the boys’ rescue was breathtaking in scope. The soccer team set out innocently to celebrate one of the boys’ birthdays. They packed flashlights, water and snacks. They would go caving as a post-soccer practice birthday adventure, even though the cave they chose was clearly marked as dangerous. Their coach saw where they had gone and followed them in.
As they tramped more than two miles through the twisting and turning darkened passageways, small trickles of water rose to become impenetrable torrents, as heavy rain flooded the cave network. Soon they were imprisoned by impassable pools of cold and dark water. In a short time, their food and water ran out, and falling temps threatened hypothermia. As they waited—it took nine days for rescuers to even find them—the level of oxygen in their confined space fell dangerously. Time was not on the boys’ side.
U.S military experts assisting in the rescue were grim as the scope of the challenge became evident. The commander of the U.S. mission noted, “The probability of success was about as low as you can get.”
Many challenges complicated the rescue. Divers installed guide ropes and special lights because visibility fell to zero in areas of the murky water. In some areas during the rescue, divers physically carried the young boys across rocky caverns and squeezed them through tight underwater passageways.
How close was the event to being a total disaster? As one New Zealand newspaper reported, literally moments after the last diver with the Thai soccer coach emerged from the cave, the massive pumps holding back floodwaters failed, allowing tons of water to cascade back through the rescue paths.
Heroic efforts by many—an estimated 10,000 people, including 2,000 military professionals, 200 divers and representatives from 100 different government agencies—all worked together to bring about the miraculous rescue. Townspeople banded together, cleaning rescuers’ clothes for free, providing free transportation to and from the site and manning food stalls (that, according to the BBC, included cooks from the Thai royal kitchen).
The rescue represented an immense collective gift, a gift that included at least 19 professionals—including one who died in the effort—selflessly putting their lives in jeopardy so that 12 young boys and their coach could live.
It is an astonishing and humbling story. It is a real-life story of deliverance from darkness into light.
The Apostle Paul teaches us a powerful spiritual lesson in parallel. As Paul wrote to the Colossians, God Himself has “delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption” (Colossians 1:13-14 Colossians 1:13-14 13 Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
American King James Version×).
Can we grasp the majesty and power of this? As frail humans we are undeserving, yet God has singled you and me out. Paul instructs us to be “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light” (Colossians 1:12 Colossians 1:12 Giving thanks to the Father, which has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
American King James Version×).
Through the incomprehensible grace of God—a free, unmerited gift—God redeems us through the unselfish sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. He brings us from unutterable darkness into glorious light!
As part of accepting that sacrifice of Jesus and living daily in a new life, a life of light directed and blessed by God, we are subject to and receive a bounty of many, many blessings. These are blessings of power, of restoration, of growth.
I am thankful that 12 young boys and their coach were rescued. I am even more thankful for our loving Father, who makes possible our redeeming journey from darkness unto life. What a tremendous gift that our heavenly Father bestows upon us! As Paul writes, “By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
American King James Version×).
Let us give thanks to our God, the loving God who selflessly leads you and me to a life of love and light!