From Darkness to Light: A Chilean Miner's Story

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Earlier this month, one billion people watched as the miraculous rescue of the 33 miners trapped in a Chilean mine played out on television.

Now, some of the miner's stories are beginning to be revealed.

CBN News interviewed miner Jose Henriquez, the man some called "The Pastor," who helped his companions go from darkness into the light.

The media gave him the title of "The Pastor," or "Spiritual Guide," but Henriquez prefers to be called simply Don Jose.

"I am not a pastor or a spiritual guide as they have called me," Henriquez said. "So Don Jose fits me better. My coworkers know me as such and that's what they would call me."

He's just over 6 feet tall, and at 54 years of age has a solid build. He is a man whose life has been forged in the mines of Chile, where he has worked for 33 years. For the same 33 years, he has been married to his wife Hetiz. Thirty-three is also the number of miners who were trapped in the San Jose mine.

However, the accident that made global news was not the only thing to occur in the mine. For some time, Henriquez sensed that something was wrong.

"My grandmother came over on two occasions to warn my mother that something terrible was going to happen to me, and that it would be very hard for me to escape," he said. "When I said goodbye to my daughter, I was sure that something was going to happen, because she really struggled to say goodbye and I knew then that that God was going to do something with me."

The 33 miners needed more than food and physical strength to survive 2,000 feet underground during those two months.

"I believe that the key to all this was in the Word of God, in having believed God," he added. "That's why I say to the whole world that the Lord wants them to believe in Him to believe in His Word".

Henriquez is a profoundly spiritual person. His faith in God was key in helping his companions to hold on to hope.

"That spirituality served him well, that knowledge of the Word, having worked with the Word, because he preached in the church here," said Jose Gonzalez, Henriquez's pastor. "That helped him because he did not have it to read and he had to draw it out from within his heart, to be able to share it with his companions".

The Christian miner led devotions twice a day, crying out to God with the other miners. Thanks to his efforts, some of the miners turned their lives over to Jesus.

"On the Sunday before we were rescued, I called for a pastor to come, because I am not a pastor," Henqiruez said. "So I told my brother in a letter, 'Bring a pastor that you consider, and that God has confirmed is a real pastor to come and lead the prayer of salvation.' And he did that. And around 20 miners said, 'Yes, they believed in the Lord.'"

After being rescued, Henriquez was the first of the 33 men to go back into the mine. He wanted to return to thank God for getting him out of the depths of the earth alive.

Henríquez was welcomed in his hometown of Talca as a real hero. Talca Mayor Juan Castro named him an honorary citizen.

"The true hero is Jesus Christ," Henriquez said. "He is the only hero that should be mentioned. Apart from whatever man may have done both inside and outside that mine, He is the one who deserves the honor and the glory."

Henríquez is a miner by nature, but he knows now that he has a responsibility to testify about how God used him to bring his companions out of darkness into the light.

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CBN News
Gary Lane

Gary Lane

Senior International Correspondent

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