Roy Exum / Dec. 5, 2010

What Those Miners Found

You didn't read much about this after a world-wide television audience estimated to be over a billion people watched it happen but in a minute you'll know why. A little over a month ago, when 33 miners were miraculously saved in Chile, all of us noticed each wore dark sunglasses to protect their sensitive eyes as they were brought out in a rescue capsule.

You didn’t read much about this after a world-wide television audience estimated to be over a billion people watched it happen but in a minute you’ll know why. A little over a month ago, when 33 miners were miraculously saved in Chile, all of us noticed each wore dark sunglasses to protect their sensitive eyes as they were brought out in a rescue capsule.

But what a CNN reporter wondered was why most were also wearing tan-colored tee shirts outside their special coveralls. The green coveralls were especially designed to wick away perspiration but the miners, in the harrowing last days before they were finally pulled one at a time from the 69-day tomb, had specifically requested the special shirts as well.

On the front of each shirt written boldly in Spanish were the words, “Gracias Senor,” or, “Thank you Lord.” On the back were the words from the Bible’s Psalms 95:4, beginning with “Porque en su mana estan …,” or, as it translates to English, “In His Hands are the depths of the earth, the heights of the mountains are also His.”

While one of America’s biggest problems today is the constant demand to ban prayer in our schools, and to staunchly defy the fact that our entire country was founded on religious principles, have you noticed who is the First Guy we call when tragedy erupts? You see, it’s not cool for the media to acknowledge religion so we were told instead about corneal problems and possible dental infection.

Now we learn the miners want a far different message to be delivered. As Rev. Aldredo Cooper, the chaplain to Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, said, “They are all wanting to testify to the Lord Jesus Christ. All 33 of them are saying they found God in the mine. Five or six were already Christian and held services down in the mine.

"Many others went down with no faith,” Rev. Cooper said, but they all want to say this: “We were not 33, we were 34 because Jesus Christ was down there with us.” So far, the miners are talking only guardedly, hoping that impending book and movie rights will provide a better life than is found 2,000-plus feet down a mine shaft.

One miner, Mario Sepulveda, told a horde of reporters the minute he surfaced, “We never lost our faith. We knew we’d be rescued …” but after the camera’s eye turned elsewhere and the sound bite went silent, he also said, “I have been with God and I have been with the devil. I seized the hand of God. I always knew God would get us out of there.”

The tee-shirts were specifically requested by the miners after the Chile branch of the Campus Crusade for Christ was asked to provide copies of its famous “Jesus” audio that was sent with MP3 players down a four-inch tube. The miners constantly used the players for their twice-daily prayer services, once at noon and again at 6 p.m., and later watched the “The Jesus Movie” almost continually.

As the United States celebrated Thanksgiving, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper hosted the network’s annual “Heroes” spectacular and some of the Chilean miners were prominently featured on the show.

An interview with four of Chilean miners was taped in Los Angeles for the Thursday showing and the miners didn’t wince when they told how they kept their sanity in a place where, for 17 days, nobody even knew where they were. One, soft-spoken Juan Illanes who is a 42-year-old electrical mechanic, told how the prayer meetings kept them calm.

At first food rationing, Juan said, was “very, very delicate at the time,” but said despair really set in after the rescue efforts suffered setbacks. “After a while, we sometimes felt panic, but it wasn’t a mass panic. There was always good will among us. We always had the meetings, and we did it in a conversational manner, and that’s what kept us calm,” he said.

Jimmy Sanchez, the youngest miner at 19, told CNN’s Cooper, “I thought I was going to die. The only thing I could think about was my family, God and God’s help.”

Another was 46-year-old Jose Ojeda who has diabetes. He also has no problem telling how he endured. “I felt serenity with God, and that helped me through,” Ojeda told Cooper on the tape.

Berry Fiess, director of Field Information Services for The JESUS Film Project, said the tee-shirts were absolutely the miners’ idea and that they were made – “at their request” – after the tapes were sent down. He has since explained, “I think it’s valid to give God the honor and the glory here because God is the one who can provide His grace and mercy at any time that He wants.”

Isn’t it funny most of us didn’t hear this miraculous story of faith until now? That’s because in the United States we are not supposed to talk about Jesus. The mainstream media ignores the Christian concept, going instead with a modern-day thinking, “If it bleeds, it will lead.”

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