The 33 miners trapped in a collapse in the San Jose Mine in Chile were freed in a 24 hour transfer effort that begin the night of October 12, 2010 and ended the evening of October 13, 2010. During that time, the rescue capsule Fenix 2 traveled up and down the escape tunnel a distance of 2041 feet each way to carry the men out one at a time, as well as first taking several rescue workers down to help prepare them for the trip up, and then of course bringing the rescue workers back to the surface as well. The overall operation went remarkably smoothly with no significant hang-ups, and the men seemed to all me in amazingly good condition considering the ordeal that they have been through.
These men were trapped when the mine passage collapsed some 69 days earlier. It is truly remarkable that they were able to maintain discipline and order and to work together under those most difficult circumstances for such a long period. It was reported that initially, they were without food from the surface for a period of 17 days, but under the leadership of the crew chief, they stretched what had been intended to be a 48 hour food supply to last for that 17 day period by only eating a drinking a tiny bit every other day.
It is remarkable that the men worked together for this extended period of time. It would be so easy for selfish self-interest to assert itself, for one man, or a small group, to claim all of the food for himself. Evidently this did not happen; there was no mention of such at all. There was frequent mention of the men’s Christian faith, of there being one man in particular that had been a faith teacher for the men, and of the fact that they had set aside an area specifically for prayer. They said several times that they were never alone, but that God was always with them. When they came to the surface, they spoke quite freely of their faith, giving thanks to God for their release, and of the assurance that they had felt that He had been with them throughout their captivity.
The scene at the top of the rescue tunnel was very interesting. There were, of course, many workers present to carry out the labor involved in the actual rescue. But there were also the President and First Lady of Chile present, on their feet, visiting with the family members of the men that were being recovered, for the full 24 hour period. I thought that was truly remarkable! That degree of personal involvement and concern was very striking, very touching. Every man that came up got a warm embrace and a handshake from the President, along with individual words of encouragement and appreciation. I thought that the leadership shown by the President and the First Lady were truly extraordinary and were much appreciated. There were no signs of body guards or anything like that; he was simply one of the guys, but it was also quite clear that he was the President, the leader, and when he spoke he spoke for all. Real leadership!!
These men made it very clear that they were aware of God being a major factor in their survival. Without the Lord God, they would have been alone and they would have died in their captivity in the earth. The role of God in this rescue cannot possibly be discounted. We should all be clear about this, and give praise and glory to God for His mercy in bringing these men safely through this harrowing situation.
Let us pray:
Most gracious Lord, whose mercy is over all thy works; We praise thy holy name that thou hast been pleased to enable the safe return of the trapped miners in Chile after 69 days in their captivity in the depths of the earth and the great perils associated therewith; we give thee our hearty thanks for the extreme mercy given to these men.
May they be duly sensible of thy merciful providence extended to them, and ever express their thankfulness by a holy trust in thee, and obedience to thy laws; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.