The rescue of 33 miners from a collapsed mine in Chile was a miracle of God,
says the miners’ spiritual leader José Henriquez
Earlier this year, José Henriquez embarked on a global speaking tour in
churches across America, Ireland and the UK. In 15 UK cities, 18,000 people
eagerly gathered to hear how the miner’s prayers were answered after
being trapped deep underground for more than two months.
“We are well in the shelter, the 33”
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera shows the media a note written on a piece of paper with a red marker confirming the miners were alive. Translated the note reads: “We are well in the shelter, the 33”. The words became the motto of the miners’ survival and the rescue effort, and appeared on websites, banners and t-shirts.
Photo: Government of Chile.
To have even survived the first 17 days before they were discovered was a
miracle in itself. With only a few cans of tuna and biscuits for food, the
men fasted for up to three days at a time, just to make the food last.
When it became obvious that only a miracle could save the men, it was
José, known as the ‘pastor’ of the group, who they asked to
lead them in prayer.
“The Christians among the miners came from different churches, and there
were some who didn’t believe in God, but all 33 took part in the prayer
meetings - even the atheists.
“We had one desperate prayer cry and one purpose together. We all were
praying, ‘Lord, open up a door of escape. There’s no other way
unless you do it,’” says the 56-year-old drillmaster.
The prayer meetings soon included Bible studies, worship and José
preaching from memory. As the men prayed every day, the presence of God was
felt more powerfully.
José recalls: “In the beginning there was such chaos and
desperation ... But through praying God changed our hearts and we came
together in one purpose. We began to lose our fears and gained
The first big test of faith came when the first drilling missed them, but
instead of giving up hope they were spurred on to pray even more. When the
second hole was dug, the drill glanced off a rock at just the right angle to
pierce the cavity where the miners were trapped.
“Everyone, even the atheists, agreed that it was a miracle,” he
After that, food, medicine and messages from family were sent down the shaft,
but when they each received their own small Bible the men began committing
their lives to Jesus Christ.
“The Bible study and preaching began to change lives, as it always
does,” says José. Some of the miners’ wives said that
their husbands stopped swearing at them and began telling them about Jesus!
By the end of the ordeal, 22 of the men had made Jesus their Lord. The
world’s media relayed the moment each of them came out of the rescue
capsule wearing T-shirts saying ‘Thank you God’, some getting down
on their knees to thank I him.
“Many had bad relationships with their wives but they began to cherish
them and realise how precious their love was,” reveals José.
“When I visited the men in hospital they all said thank God that he did
this. All of them experienced a real relationship with God down
So strongly did the men feel the presence of God in the mine that they said
there was a “34th man” down there with them - Jesus.
Speaking at Durham Cathedral in the UK, José said: “God is always
beside us. We can’t see him. But you can feel his presence in your
“We believe in a power that is not seen, cannot be touched, but can be
felt in the heart and that is our God - the Lord Jesus Christ.”
After experiencing God so powerfully, José is travelling the world to
tell others about the living God who answers prayer.
Jose Henriquez gives his thumbs-up as he is taken for a checkup after being brought to surface from the San Jose mine, Chile, on October 13, 2010.
Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images
He has even spoken at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, alongside
President Obama. He says: “There are so many accidents that happen
every day. We know that thousands of people die every day, but this
particular accident for some reason God took hold of in a very special way ...
Maybe God has allowed all this just so the world can hear this story. The
only reason I am here is because there is a living God who is
He adds: “Please do not wait to have to suffer an accident in order to
find God or seek him ... He’s a real God, He is alive, He is powerful.
He loves the whole of humanity and sent his Son for us. He answers prayer.
Find Christ and enjoy this wonderful God. He’s a God of mercy who heals
and restores, who liberates, breaks chains and the vice of evil.”
On October 12, 2011, the anniversary of the rescue, José will release a
book entitled ‘Miracle in the Mine’.
“I’m eager to share how our faith in God helped me and my friends
to survive this experience,” says José. “Although, I have
not fully embraced our so-called ‘celebrity’ status, if writing
this book will serve to bring others to know the truth of God’s Word,
then my experience will have been for good.”
Courtesy Assist News Service