Today’s dramatic rescue of the 33 trapped Chilean miners serves as a global platform to put the Glory of God on display. The miners have been trapped in the San Jose copper mine, Chile, since August 5th, a total of 69 days in a tunnel more than 1,970 feet underground. Rescuers have designed an escape tube 26 inches wide to hoist each miner to the surface. As of this writing, the rescue mission is ongoing with more than half of the miners being rescued in a dramatic event that has captivated a worldwide audience. As one news story notes, the event is being seen by an estimated 1 Billion people. Another story notes that the miners were sustained by eating 2 spoonfuls of tuna and a sip of milk every 48 hours for the first 17 days in temperatures exceeding 90 degrees. In a surprising twist of selflessness, the miners actually began to argue, not over who would exit first, but who would exit last.
So how then can God get glory from an epic disaster that drew the attention of the world? As Mario Sepulveda Espinace, the second miner rescued, stated “I met God. I met the Devil. God won.” And as always, God did win. Along with additional food, water, medicine, survival clothing, and handwritten notes, a Chilean evangelist sent 33 copies of the Bible down to them so that the miners could “find inspiration and hold up for the 4 months they have ahead.” The 4-months was an early estimate for the expected rescue. Chilean engineer Igor Bravo, member of First Baptist Church of Santiago, was responsible for sending down the Bibles, Bible studies, recordings of sermons and Christian music down a series of small shafts through which the other supplies were sent. “I had to help in some Christian way,” Bravo said. “If there is an opportunity to share the Gospel — even if we’re extremely occupied — and to contribute to the Christian cause and evangelism, it’s something that’s in [my] blood.”
3 of the 33 trapped miners are reportedly evangelical Christians, yet it is being reported that 2 more of them have made professions of faith since being trapped. One of the original 3, Jose Henriquez, has been leading Bible studies for the miners each evening. “It [Bible study] started out 5, 10, now 20 participants,” Bravo said. “[The people on the surface] have José Henríquez identified as the spiritual leader; they call him ‘The Pastor.'” Additionally, the family members of the miners have been witnessed to by Pastor Marcelo Leiva, of Vallenar Baptist Church of Vallenar, Chile. The wife of one of the miners has also become a Christian since this disaster. “This has been a testimony to what the Lord can do in a person’s life,” Leiva said. “Those that are the children of the Lord have been those that have shown, even in the midst of the storm, a testimony of peace, tranquility and trust in the Lord.” Pastor Leiva has also been able to witness to other family members, Chilean policemen, and foreign press, including a Japanese reporter. As the rescue mission takes place and will soon be coming to a close the on-site Gospel sharing will likewise soon end, but Pastor Leiva maintains his obedience. “Let’s do our job and fulfill the purpose for which God brought us here,” Leiva said. “Not to just have a protagonist role without sharing the Gospel. Because this camp, in a few more days, is going to close and the people will return home. Pray that we, the children of God, will do our job.”
And herein is where God’s glory takes center stage. Through this disaster that could’ve taken the lives of 33 miners, God has sent His Gospel message forth through the faithful ministry of one man below surface along with two of his brothers in Christ and then used them in conjunction with Christian rescuers and pastors at the surface. In doing so, God’s Word went forth and penetrated the hearts of two of the miners and so far one family member. The Gospel is literally being spread underground and on the surface giving greater insight into the passage from Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation.” When we read of passages such as Matthew 28:18-20 or Romans 10:14-15, we too often think these refer to someone who is “called” to be an overseas missionary or a pastor of a congregation. The truth is, this rescue is an example of how these verses are being lived out precisely the way they were intended, in an everyday context by everyday Christians, and these miners along with their rescuers are a testimony to the saving power of God’s Word when proclaimed by those who faithfully follow Christ.
“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Romans 1:16 NKJV