José Henriquez was one of the thirty-three miners trapped 2,300 feet underground when a section of the San José copper mine in Northern Chile collapsed. It was 5 August 2010. For seventeen days all rescue attempts failed. There was no sign of life in the copper mine. The trapped miners had enough food for three days and a little drinking water.
When José was interviewed he told how they had prayed to God for a miracle. He described the moment, on 22 August, when a drill broke through into the tunnel where the men were trapped. They hammered the drill with iron rods. They sprayed paint on it. They sent up many messages on it. Only one stayed on the drill as it went back up to the surface. The message read, ‘We’re fine. The 33 in the shelter.’
One billion people watched the rescue. On 13 October 2010 at 10 pm (GMT) Jose and his colleagues emerged after being trapped for sixty-nine days.
Many of them had been atheists, agnostics, un-believers, or semi-believers. Jose Henriquez Gonzalez was known as the ‘evangelist’ because he led so many of the others to faith in Jesus Christ. He formed and led a prayer group. With thirty-three tiny Bibles sent down by friends, he led devotions twice a day.
They testified to the presence of a thirty-fourth person. Nineteen-year-old miner, Jimmy Sanchez, said, ‘There are actually thirty-four of us because God has never left us down here.’ Jesus was there with them. When they emerged out of the mine the rescued men were all wearing similar t-shirts. The shirts said on the front, ‘Thank you, Lord’, and on the back it said, ‘To him be the glory and honour’.
The world we live in seems chaotic and hopeless at the moment, but God ultimately gets the victory. When I imagine how hard it must have been to be trapped 2,300 feet underground for 69 days, I’m humbled by God’s grace and mercy.
33 tiny Bibles provided hope to 33 trapped miners. Where does your hope lie?
And that’s the memo.