Chilean Miner Shares Testimony with the World

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On Aug. 7, 2010, an underground shaft collapsed in a gold and copper mine in northern Chile trapping 33 miners deep underground. The whole world followed the dramatic rescue attempts, and finally watched as the miners emerged one-by-one through a newly-drilled escape shaft.

The miners have since become celebrities, but one in particular felt the world needed to hear his story.

Last October, Chilean miner Jose Henriquez emerged to the light of day for the first time after spending three months trapped deep underground.

Now he is sharing the story of his dramatic rescue in different cities in Europe and the United States. In Washington, D.C., Henriquez joined President Barack Obama as an honored guest at the National Prayer Breakfast. He recalled the desperation the miners felt after a rockfall trapped the group of 33 nearly half a mile underground.

"We realized however that we had only one alternative," Henriquez said. "And that was God himself."

Henriquez explained they had many needs underground, and that were running out of food.

"So we decided that unless God did a miracle there would be no way out," he said.

Henriquez' testimony drew praise from those attending the prayer breakfast, including Arturo Fermandois, Chile's ambassador to the United States.

"A privilege to be at this national Prayer Breakfast with our miner Jose Henriquez, who was able to share his intense spiritual experience," Fermandois said. "That it was faith that helped our miners in Chile endure 17 days without any contact with the outside world, and 69 days at a depth of 2,000 feet."

Pastor Alfred Cooper was in a meeting with the president of Chile when the mining accident happened.

"I can say that the president himself called for a prayer meeting," Cooper said. "And in the chapel of the presidential palace we led a prayer meeting...something like the spirit of this prayer breakfast today, the spirit of Jesus."

Underground, Henriquez cultivated a spiritual climate that gave hope and emotional stability to the trapped miners. His efforts bore fruit.

"I came out and passed the psychologists' exam, and they thanked me for doing their work," Henriquez said. "So I have no problem with terrible dreams or anything like that. I have the joy of God in my heart and that is wonderful."

Henriquez said he has had his share of mining accidents, but this one left him with a message.

"Sending a message and saying that He is still hearing prayer, and He's still in control," he said. "That He is a God who makes promises and he'll keep them. That we're living in a time of love and mercy and He continues to call us, and He's waiting for people to have an encounter with Him."

*Originally aired on Feb. 11, 2011.

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Stan Jeter

Stan Jeter

CBN News Senior Producer

CBN News Senior Producer Stan Jeter specializes in Christian news and Latin American coverage.  He has lived and worked for many years in South and Central America, most recently developing the Spanish Christian news program, Mundo Cristiano.  Follow Stan on Twitter @StanJeterNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/StanJeterCBN.