Adventist’s ‘Mini-Bibles’ Bring Light
of Word to Trapped Chilean Miners
Church is ‘spiritual reference’ for miners, families at site
BY MAGDIEL PEREZ SCHULZ, South American Division, with Adventist Review staff
Fulfilling the ancient Scriptural injunction that “the entrance of thy words gives light” (Ps. 119:130), miniature Bibles provided by Seventh-day Adventists in Chile are giving hope to 33 miners trapped approximately 2,300 feet (700 meters) underground for more than 25 days since the August 5 collapse of a tunnel at the San Jose mine in Chile's Atacama desert.
The Associated Press on August 31 reported preliminary drilling has begun to liberate the miners, but added much work lies ahead.
The mine, which media reports indicated had been closed earlier due to fatal accidents, reopened in recent years as world copper prices rose. The miners rationed what would have been two days’ worth of food to stretch until they were found some 17 days after the collapse. According to the Voice of America, “Efforts to free them could take as long as four months. [However], mining experts say an alternate rescue tunnel might be completed in two months under ideal conditions.”
In the midst of this desperate situation – highlighted on August 29 by the release of videos showing miners emotionally sending messages to their families – the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Chile is taking a leading role in providing spiritual aid.
BOOK OF HOPE: Seventh-day Adventist pastor Carlos Parra Diaz, from the district of Copiapo, Chile, shows one of the miniature Bibles sent down a supply shaft to the 33 trapped miners in the Atacama desert. Parra has become the de facto chaplain at the rescue site. [Photo: South America Division]
Regional Adventist pastor Carlos Parra Diaz, who oversees the northern district of Copiapo, won approval from Laurence Golborne, the country’s mining minister, to prepare the Bibles for the trapped miners. Each volume had to be approximately 3.15 inches (8 centimeters) high and 4.7 inches (12 centimeters) wide in order to fit in the “Dove” device being used to transport supplies to the men. Each Bible was personalized with a miner’s name and included specific scriptures to encourage them.
"We have always been available to help our brothers who are suffering both outside and inside of the mine; now we have prepared this great gift of our church, these mini Bibles so the miners, in their confinement can read the Word of God and accept Jesus in their hearts after this great miracle that has happened in their lives," Parra said.
The gesture has already brought a response from a trapped miner: “Give thanks to those who sent us the Bibles,” one miner, identified only as Renan, was quoted by the Brazilian weekly newsmagazine “Veja” (“Look”). The Bible’s arrival, Renan said, “gave me so much faith that I will leave here.”
Each of the miniature Bibles, “Veja” reported, was sent down with a magnifying glass to make reading easier. A label bears the name of a specific miner, and the words, “We are praying for your return.” Also, the magazine said, Psalm 40 is highlighted in each Bible. The Scripture reads, in part, “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth…” (Ps 40:1-3)
Jaime Mañalich, Chilean Minister of Health, as well as managers of the Chilean Safety Association, who are responsible for providing food and medical supplies to the trapped miners, received the Bibles at the mine on August 26.
Local media outlets in English, German, French languages, and others around the world have labeled the miners’ survival thus far as a miracle; their reports have also highlighted the Adventist Church’s initiative.
Parra also gave a copy of the scriptures to the ministers of health and mining, as well as to each of the families at “Camp Hope,” as the rescue site has been named. Those Bibles are larger in size, but are not different in content. Families have had the opportunity to share their reading and meditation alongside the pastor and have participated in extended periods of prayer. Parra has become the de facto camp chaplain. He has given the word of God as well as words of encouragement to the families and workers who are working on the rescue.
According to the “Veja” report, Parra said, “If God [has] kept them alive, He will continue taking care of them. Before, the prayer was for our [countrymen] to be alive. Now, we pray that the final rescue to be long before they expect it to be. We are asking for another miracle, [just] one more.”
As a result of these activities, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has had a permanent presence in the mine area and has become a “spiritual reference” in the camp, church officials report.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Chile traces its roots back to 1885, when the first Adventists entered the nation. Today, more than 125,000 baptized members worship in 836 congregations and companies throughout the nation, which in 2008 had a population of 16.8 million, according to The World Bank.