Chilean Mine Rescue

By: Diane Chandler
Friday, October 15th, 2010

For 69 days, , 33 Chilean miners survived the most harrowing experience of their lives.  Trapped in a mine one-half mile beneath the earth’s surface for what seemed like eternity, these minors were rescued Wednesday and Thursday of this week.  The world watched.  We held our breath and experienced the relief and exhilaration of each of the minors making their debuts to the surface, cocooned in the safety of the man-made capsule.

One of the miners, Mario Sepulveda, exclaimed that he has become a changed man, “I buried 40 years of my life down there, and I’m going to live a lot longer to be a new person.” He added, “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.  His emotive celebration created the hugh exhale that was so needed.

The 63-year old minor, Mario Gomez, declared that he never lost faith that the group would be rescued.  His response was nothing shy of gratitude to God for God’s protection and deliverance.  He sank to his knees in humility and prayer.

The mine rescue weaves the realities of life and death together in a fragile braid and echoes the amazing power of God to sustain humankind in the deepest and darkest of situations.

In the Hebrew Bible, David cries out, “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold.  I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.  I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail looking for God” (Psalm 69:1-3). The minors, I’m certain, could identify with David’s extreme desperation.

Surely the gripping stories of the minors will emerge in the days, weeks, and months ahead.  And certainly a film will depict the trial and trauma they endured.  What I suspect will be shown are the ways in which the minors endured and how the amazing coordinated team of experts including engineers, doctors, psychologists, and others masterfully unified for one purpose ~ to save them.  But what may not be shown is the amazing ways that many of these men called out to God as their only hope and their faith in God and their commitment to each other that sustained them.

What I’m reminded of is the power of crying out to God when human resources are expunged and our only source is the living and true God.  The God who rescued the miners is the same God who rescues us.  We each have our own mining experience where all looks dark and totally impossible.  But God….

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Diane Chandler
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6 Responses to “Chilean Mine Rescue”

  1. Carey Oster says:

    …reached out, grabbed my hand and saved me!!

    Dr. Chandler,

    While reading your blog I too thought of David’s words from a different Psalm:

    “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Ps 139:7-10

    For Mr. Sepulveda this experience brought him to reach out and take God’s hand. For Mr. Gomez his faith was affirmed. Both men encountered God in a life threatening experience. Few people will have a life experience exactly like this but as you state we all have our unique time where we choose to reach out to Jesus. We cannot escape Him and He knocks at the door to every person’s heart asking to come in.

    Before knowing Jesus, David’s words always scared me. Now, they are great comfort as I know He’s always got my back!

    God is alive and reaching out to the heart of every person. And the world just saw how He did this with these 33 men–how awesome He is!!

  2. Diane Chandler Diane Chandler says:

    Carey, thank you for your reply to today’s blog. With all of our human ingenuity, prowess, and technological capacity, it can be easy to miss God in the miracles that happen in our everyday lives. When God meets you in dark place, what He teaches you there is yours forever.

    I’m sure that many of these miners will be sharing in the ensuing weeks and months the ways that God protected, encouraged, and walked with them in the midst of what seemed like a hopeless situation. I, for one, take great strength from their example of strength, perseverance, fortitude, hope, and teamwork.

  3. Candace Laughinghouse says:

    For me, the Chilean rescue teaches us how important it is to have like-minded people around us in the midst of what seems to be a hopeless situation. While we call out to God, it is good to have friends who have either gone through what we’re experiencing or sharing in the moment of awaiting God’s deliverance. How awesome it is to have “like-minded” people in our prayer circle. These people cannot be focused on the current sitz em leben, but they must possess the renewed mindset that joins us in our commitment to God’s promises in our lives. I believe God calls us, the body of Christ, together to be present in our neighbor’s struggle and endure with them until the end. What a great message for the church today. Can we stand to be there for others who find themselves in “the dark” spiritually? We should be able to relate….

  4. Diane Chandler Diane Chandler says:

    Candace, your reference to a mutual commitment to God’s promises very much applies to the trapped Chilean miners. It was reported that one of the miners, Jose Henriquez (an evangelical pastor) requested spiritual materials 17 days into the ordeal. Campus Crusade for Christ director Christian Maureira supplied the New Testament in Spanish and the Jesus film, both on MP3 versions. Also the t-shirts that the miners donned when they finally were rescued had “Gracious Senor!” (Thank you, Lord) on one side, and Psalm 95:4 on the other. It read: “In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the heights of the hills are His also.”

    Read more:

    What brought these men together was not only their solidarity in crisis but also their daily prayer times, reported to be at noon and six p.m. daily.

    Thank you for your reply and comments on this blog.

  5. Joyce Ojiaku says:

    Shalom! Dr. Chandler,

    I personally wept and knelt down to thank God for His faithfulness and mercy (Rom 9:16). Thank you, Dr. Chandler… for the blog.

    The miraculous rescue of the 33 Chilean miners is amazing; trapped in place where they would have been buried – beyond man’s reach. I believe these men encountered brokenness (Psalm 51:17). This is a captivating moment that anybody that really knows what actually took place ought to go on his/her knees and praise God. I am talking about those times where faith in our Heavenly Father’s wisdom, love, and goodness is the only thing that is supporting our emotional and spiritual being. Not blessings, not joy, not hope, not peace, not guidance, not comfort, not love, nor even His presence – just pure faith.

    I do think Job would have concurred with me. When all else is uncovered our faith appears, and shows its authentic significance. Even in difficulty our God is judicious and just, because His intention is to put up our faith not destroy it – He wants our best because we are His children. I remember times in my life where I was broken before the Lord and no words could relate what I was feeling inside, the tears just flowed; the Psalms (Psalm 23) gave me strength to carry on. I recognize in the end, that God delights in my brokenness, because that is when He is truly glorified. These Chilean miners experienced brokenness and the only hope for them is to cling to God with their faith. Certainly, these Chilean miners’ faith is splendid. Remember “For the word of the LORD is right and true; He is faithful in all He does (Ps 33:4).

    Stay blessed in His glory,
    Joyce Ojiaku

  6. Diane Chandler Diane Chandler says:

    Joyce, so very well-expressed. Thank you. The entire world resonated with the rescue of these miners. What a picture of the celebration when one soul gives his/her heart to God in salvation. All of heaven rejoices.