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Trapped Chilean Miners Rescued from Deep Down Dark

In Deep Down Dark, Hector Tobar tells the story of 33 Chilean miners who were trapped 2,000 feet below the surface for 69 days. They had to live in the dark, with almost no food, cut off from the rest of the world. They didn't know if they would ever see daylight again. Many of the miners, face-to-face with imminent death, took stock of their lives and realized they had a lot of regrets. Somebody asked Jose Henriquez, a Christian, if he would pray for everyone.

As he got down on his knees, some of the other men joined him, and he began to talk to God: "We aren't the best men, Lord, but have pity on us." He actually got more specific: "Victor Segovia knows that he drinks too much. Victor Zamora is too quick to anger. Pedro Cortez thinks about the poor father he's been to his young daughter …"

Nobody objected. It was the beginning of something special. In the deep down dark, buried under the earth, with death staring them in the face, the men got real before God and each other. They met every day to eat a meager meal, hear a short sermon, and then get on their knees and pray: "God, forgive me for the violence of my voice before my wife and my son." Or "God, forgive me for abusing the temple of my body with drugs." They confessed to each other too: "I'm sorry I raised my voice." Or "I'm sorry I didn't help get the water."

Meanwhile, above the surface a rescue effort had begun. People from all over the world began trying to help, or give, or pray for the men to be saved.

Unfortunately, the happiest part of the story is also the saddest. The drill cuts a narrow hole through the rock. The miners get food and supplies and iPads; they know that eventually they'll be rescued; they find out they're becoming famous and they might get rich. And then the confessing stops. The praying stops. The lure of money and fame undoes the transformative community that had developed in their shared suffering.

They were at their best when life was at its worst. "The Deep Down Dark" is the place where you know you can't make it on your own. "The Deep Down Dark" is the place where you realize you need God.

Possible Preaching Angles: Christmas; Christ, birth of—To use this as a Christmas illustration say something like, "God knew we all have Deep Down Dark places. He knew we could not make it on our own. He knew we could not find our way up to him. So he came down to us at Christmas …

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