SANTIAGO, Chile (BP)–As 33 trapped miners in Chile stepped out of a rescue capsule to greet the world again Oct. 12-13, many wore a T-shirt with ¡Gracias Señor! (Thank you, Lord!) printed across the front.
Christian Maureira, national director of Campus Crusade for Christ in Chile, provided the T-shirts to the miners, who were trapped 2,300 feet underground when a partial collapse blocked the mine exit on Aug. 5. Rescuers worked more than two months to free them from beneath a half-mile of rock.
“When I saw the miners on TV [wearing the shirts], my heart was like this … really fast,” Christian Maureira said about watching the rescue. “I was really excited because a lot of people around the world were looking at that. They gave the glory to God — wow!”
Maureira suggested his T-shirt idea to José Henríquez after meeting Henríquez’s daughter, Hettez, at Camp Esperanza (Hope), where many of the miners’ families were holding vigil. Henríquez, one of the trapped miners, became the spiritual leader of the group and conducted nightly Bible studies for the men. (Read a related story about Henríquez here)
“[The miners] received the [T-shirt] idea with rejoicing,” Maureira said. “They had decided to say thank you to God.” They even gave input on the design of the shirt.
On the back of the shirts was a reference to Psalm 95:4 (NIV): “In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.”
Maureira chose that scripture verse after receiving a letter from Henríquez that included the reference. He wanted the T-shirts to help the miners express thanks to God in a way no one could miss.
“God allowed this situation, and the miners are alive by the grace of God,” Maureira said. “I think the most important fact was the glory of God in this situation.”
Along with the T-shirts, Maureira sent the miners 33 MP3 players containing audio versions of the Bible and the “JESUS” film.
To Maureira, the miners’ decision to wear the shirts is evidence of how he hopes this event will affect Chile.
“Our society is really humanistic and secularist. They don’t believe in God. But with this situation, the Chileans accept that we are a Christian community. The people express their faith in God freely,” he said. “The people say, ‘It is a miracle. Thank you, God.'”
Maureira said he has seen Chile go through many challenges — changing governments, earthquakes — but he hopes the rescue of the miners will be one that defines the country.
“With these T-shirts, we want to tell [Chileans] it is the plan of God and the glory of God. God is in this situation,” Maureira said. “That was the mission, and we completed the mission.”
Tristan Taylor is an IMB writer in the Americas.