Saturday, October 16, 2010


“The 33 graves we never needed” was a name given to the site where the Chilean miners were spectacularly rescued on October 13, 2010. At the San Jose copper and gold mine, the last of the miners was rescued from a shaft 2,041 feet underground after surviving 69 days. This was the longest anyone has survived while trapped underground. No expense was spared in bringing top of the line drilling equipment and estimates were around $22 million for the entire operation [1]. For the first 17 days, no one on top knew they were alive and in fact feared the worst. This joyous rescue has gained the attention of the entire world as well as international cooperation, including Canadian workers, NASA specialists from the United States, a drilling consultant from Australia, and even a specialized drill bit from a Pennsylvania based company [2].

One of the rescued miners, 50 year old Yonni Barrios, had his romantic dalliance with Susana Valenzuela revealed on the international news, not exactly to the delight of his cheated wife Marta, who stated “she’s welcome to him”. Then there is 27 year old miner Carlos Barrios, who has a five year old son with his wife as well as a girlfriend who is seven months pregnant. So, an overwhelmingly joyous occasion is not without a little social drama.

Another group of people were trapped underground that you probably did not hear about. They too were separated from fresh air and the light of the sun. In fact, many in this group had been underground so long, they became accustomed to it and, for the most part, did not even try to escape. Occasionally, one would get out, but the others quickly forgot about him or her and returned to their “normal” lives. Sometimes, people on the bright surface communicated opportunities for escape to those trapped, but some miners ignored them, some did not hear, and others even jeered at the surface people, claiming they would rather remain in the stale subterranean air. Many lived out the remainder of their natural lives in this extensive mine. A few wrote books about mystical experiences in the bright surface world while a few others authored books explaining the reasons that world does not exist. These miners had, as those in Chile, searched for gold, but instead found discontentment, a lack of joy and peace, loss of purpose, and low level generalized depression. However, they attempted to put a happy face on things and tell others below they were fine.

Ridiculous allegory one might say? Is it ridiculous that many people are spiritually trapped, not knowing the light of God, not knowing His love and forgiveness, and not having the hope of eternal life in heaven? Not to diminish an exceptionally well planned rescue in Chile, spiritual entrapment can be totally life-encompassing, not to mention eternal – “what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). Many people are trapped in pits that were dug with shovels of alcohol, drugs and similar addictions – “He has dug a pit and hollowed it out and has fallen into the hole which he made” (Psalm 7:15). In lucid moments, we clearly recognize the situation, but friends, parties and life’s pleasures keep some in the pit – “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Fortunately, the Bible states that God “has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son” (Colossians 1:13). The first step is admission and the second is acceptance of God’s rescue. “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction” (Psalm 40:1-2a). May those on the lighted surface continue sending rescue capsules to those who are trapped.

[1] Pittsburgh Tribune Review newspaper, “Last of Chile miners rises to surface”, Oct. 14, 2010.
[2] Stephen Kurczy, The Christian Science Monitor, “Chile mine rescue spurred unprecedented global cooperation”, Oct. 14, 2010.