A new book describes the deep faith of the 33 Chilean miners trapped for 70 days in a San Jose mine, 2,300 feet underground – a faith that helped them, their families and friends, survive the intense ordeal.
Hope Underground: The 33 Chilean Miners – A Story of Faith and Miracles, is a story told by a local minister who bonded spiritually with the families of the miners and, later, the miners themselves. The 33 miners, trapped in a collapsed underground shaft for over two months, from Aug. 5 to Oct. 13, 2010, attracted the attention, compassion and prayers of the entire globe. When they were finally brought out to the surface unharmed, the world rejoiced.
Churches across Chile hosted around-the-clock vigils and special services as rescuers pulled the men to the surface one-by-one. As the first miner was brought above ground, Santiago Auxiliary Bishop Cristian Contreras Villarroel said the lives of the 33 men should be seen as a sign of the need all people have for redemption.
Pope Benedict XVI offered his prayers for the rescue of the miners in late August, and in October, he expressed his hope that the ongoing rescue effort would be completed safely.
"I recommend the miners of the Atacama region to the divine goodness [of God] with hope," the pontiff said at the time.
"For the millions who prayed for a miracle, this event has become a spiritual heritage for the whole world, a stirring reminder that God listens to the pleas of His children," states the press release of Hope Undergrond, which was published by Imago Dei Books.
The book tells the story of Pastor Carlos Parra Diaz and his role in supporting the local Christians who prayed for the miners and waited for them to be rescued safely. The Rev. Diaz became a prominent figure in "camp hope," a makeshift village where the supporters of the trapped men kept hope.
Later, Diaz told his story to two writers, Mario Veloso and Jeanette Windle, who then penned a book.
"It is the story of all who came together at Camp Hope focused on asking God to do a mighty work on behalf of the miners and the overwhelming evidence of His response that followed," the press release states.
The book also mentions other spiritually strong people who kept vigil at the site, like Maria Segovia, the "mayor" of "camp hope," "whose quiet strength and steadfast faith daily encouraged others."
According to Hope Underground, one of the miners insisted there were 34 in the mine, not 33 because, as he explained, "God never abandoned" them.
Another miner became a father while he was trapped deep underground, and later named his daughter Esperanza (Hope), the book mentions.
A year after the miners were rescued, on Oct. 13, a commemoration was held at the San Jose gold and copper mine.
But the nightmare is not quite finished for all of the miners. Although they are now free from their underground trap, some still struggle. Reuters reported Thursday that one of the miners, Edison Pena, who won America's heart by crooning Elvis Presley, is now struggling with drugs and alcohol abuse, and is currently in rehab. There is still a need for prayers.