On October 13, 2010, the world watched with amazement at the miraculous rescue of 33 miners from the San Jose copper-gold mine in Copiacó, Chilé. The miners had been trapped for more than 2 months, 2,300 ft. deep inside the mine and 5 miles from the mine’s entrance.
From the beginning of the mine accident, the government of Chilé, under the inspiring leadership of President Sebastián Piñera, took charge of the multi-government rescue operation. They deserve just plaudits. Less noted by the media is the role of Christianity in the survival and eventual rescue of all 33 miners.
To begin with, Chileans prayed fervently for their trapped countrymen. Chile is a mainly Christian country, with 70% of the population identifying themselves as Catholic, and 15.1% as Evangelicals. Many among the miners’ families at Camp Hope (the make shift tent city set up at the mine’s entrance) are devout Catholics and prayed nearly constantly for the men.
Then there’s the faith of the miners themselves. Here’s Wikipedia’s account:
When a shaft was completed to provide relief for the men, they asked for religious items, including Bibles, crucifixes, rosaries, and statues of the Virgin Mary and other saints. Pope Benedict XVI sent each man a rosary which was brought personally to the mine by the archbishop of Santiago, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa. After three weeks in the mine, one man who was civilly married to his wife 25 years earlier asked her to get married in a Church. They set up a makeshift chapel in the mine, and Mario Gómez, the eldest miner, spiritually counseled his cohorts and led daily prayers.
Among the miners, a number attributed religious significance to the events, Mario Sepúlveda, for example saying “I was with God, and with the Devil — and God took me.” Mónica Ávalos, the wife of the first man rescued, Florencio Ávalos, noted: “We are really religious, both my husband and I, so God was always present. It is a miracle, this rescue was so difficult, it’s a grand miracle.” As one story in the Daily Mail put it “A deep religious faith powered this rescue; miners and families and rescuers alike believe their prayers were answered. Both government representatives and the Chilean public have repeatedly credited divine providence with keeping the miners alive and the Chilean public has viewed rescue as a miracle. Chile’s president Sebastián Piñera stated, “When the first miner emerges safe and sound, I hope all the bells of all the churches of Chile ring out forcefully, with joy and hope. Faith has moved mountains.” When Esteban Rojas stepped out of the rescue device, he immediately knelt on the ground with his hands together in prayer then raised his arms above him in adoration. His wife then wrapped around him a religious tapestry with Mary on it as they hugged and cried
CBNNews of October 14 has this account from the CBN News Spanish site, Mundo Cristiano:
The majority of those rescued have given evidence of deep spirituality and faith in God. They have all agreed that it was their faith that kept them safe and sound during those 69 days in the depths of the earth.
Each of the miners emerged from the capsule named “Fenix” wearing a shirt that said, “Thank you Lord.” On the back are the words, “To Him be the glory and honor,” taken from Psalm 95:4. “Because in his hands are the depths of the earth, and the heights of the mountains are His.”
The shirts were donated by the brother of miner Jose Henriquez, who is an evangelical Christian and has been a spiritual guide for the group. The idea for the shirts came to Henriquez’s brother, also a Christian, after hearing a sermon from his pastor on Psalm 95.
Mario Sepúlveda, the second worker to be rescued and the one who gained the admiration of the world for his good attitude when he came out of the mine, was the first to speak to the press. “I was with God, and I was with the devil. They fought, and God won,” he said. Sepulveda said he grabbed God’s hand and never doubted that he would be rescued. “I always knew they would get me out. I always had faith in the professionals here in Chile and in the Great Creator.”
The fourth miner to surface was the Bolivian Carlos Mamani. He knelt down, as soon as he came out of the capsule and pointed to heaven, giving thanks to God.
Omar Reygadas, a 56-year-old electrician did the same. He came out of the capsule with a Bible in his hands and knelt down to give thanks to God. Written on his helmet was, “God lives.”
The president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, publicly acknowledged the faith of the 33 miners. “Faith has moved mountains,” he said. “Because it has been the faith of the miners, the strength, the courage, the will of these 33 miners, and of their family members, of the rescuers, of the Chilean government and of all Chileans that have made possible this miracle.”
What is most interesting is that the U.S. media somehow neglected to inform their audience about that shirt worn by every one of the 33 miners as each emerged from the rescue pod. That provoked one TV viewer to investigate and to make this video (H/t beloved fellow May!):
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” -Romans 10:13