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The Word on the Week

Buried Alive

Most of us have at one time or another imagined what it would be like to be buried alive. The feelings of claustrophobia this engenders make it all the harder to understand how the 33 Chilean miners trapped underground since 5th August can cope. Miners on the surface say it will take 3 to 4 months to drill an escape shaft through the 2,300feet of rock that lies between them and freedom. When the men were discovered alive some 17 days after the rock-fall, a 4 inch bore hole was drilled to their chamber permitting communication, food and medicines to be passed daily. A video link has also been established so relatives can see that their husband/parents are well. Leadership of the group is shared by the 3 oldest men. Mario Gómez (62) has been in mining accidents abroad when some of the fingers were sliced off his left hand. A year after that accident, Mr. Gómez returned to Brazil, stowing away on a ship and hiding in the cargo hold for 11 days. In those moments of quiet desperation, he found solace in a small Bible, though he had never been very religious before his ordeal. Gómez has now become their spiritual leader. Rather like Moses he has organised the group into threes and has 2 other leaders working along side him. The men will be required to remove over 3,000 tons of rock which will fall into the chamber as boring of the escape shaft continues. There is a similar incident recorded in the Bible when the ship St Paul was sailing on was hit by a severe storm and the 276 on board were likely to drown. Read St Luke’s account of it in Acts 27 verses 20/25. “When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved. After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.” And so it worked out! St Paul’s faith was not in himself, nor in the sailors’ abilities but in the word of assurance spoken to him by an angel. God had kept his promise that St Paul would get to Rome to bring the Gospel to Caesar’s court – the very heart of the empire. Let’s pray for the 33 miners that they may be saved both physically and spiritually by our gracious God.