By Kalie Lowrie
Trapped in a mineshaft in Copiapó, Chile, in 2010 with 32 other miners, Jose Henriquez experienced firsthand God’s provision during 69 days of waiting and praying for rescue.
“Without any doubt, the power of God has no limits,” Henriquez told students at Dallas Baptist University during a recent chapel service. He has written a book recounting his experiences, Miracle in the Mine: One Man’s Story of Strength and Survival in the Chilean Mines, published by Zondervan.
Speaking with the help of a translator, Henriquez said it was not the first accident he had experienced in his mining career. Having been a Christian more than 30 years, he had seen God’s hand on his life.
The 2010 accident, however, received worldwide notice, and he refers to it as “God’s accident” since he said God used it to make himself known.
The explosion that set the story in motion occurred in the mining shaft where Henriquez was working Aug. 5, 2010. After assessing the damage and accounting for all 33 miners, the group soon realized all exits were blocked. Henriquez and his co-workers came to the conclusion only God could save them.
All of the miners were aware Henriquez was a Christian, and they soon called on him to lead the group in a prayer.
Henriquez recounted telling his friends: “As God’s children, we pray to the living God. So, if you want to pray to that God I will. But if you want to do something else, then look for somebody else.”
“We want to pray the way you know how to pray,” he recalled a spokesman for the group saying.
“So, we began to pray in an incredible way,” Henriquez said.
The miners began a practice that lasted 69 days — holding a prayer service every day at noon and 6 p.m. As the days progressed, even the miners who were not Christian became more willing to join in prayer and sing praise songs.
“For us, prayer was so important,” he explained. “We felt God’s presence in a very special way.”
During the two months that they were trapped, Henriquez was confident God would save them. The miners also felt the presence of the Holy Spirit with them. They saw physical healing take place, reconciliation occur, and God provide nourishment just when it was needed most.
“It was amazing to watch the Lord responding to us, even in the dark … we began to see what God was planning to do with each of us,” he said. “That was the reason we could be tranquil. We could have peace and be united together.
“God didn’t need any doors to get down there in the mine where we were. Every time we called on his name, he came. He was there, and he was present.”
One week before the miners were rescued, Henriquez held worship service and presented the gospel to his friends. Joined by a minister above ground, the miners were presented with the opportunity to dedicate their lives to Jesus Christ, and 22 professed faith in Christ.
When the time came for their rescue, before anyone left the mineshaft, the group came together and prayed, thanking God for saving their lives. They prayed for blessings over the capsule that would take them to freedom and greatly rejoiced together when they finally made their way above ground again.
The accident was meant to bring glory to God, Henriquez insisted. Fifteen days after he was saved, he began traveling around the world, sharing about the miracle that occurred and the saving power of Christ.
When the chapel crowd rose to their feet to give him an ovation, he said: “Please don’t give me praise. The glory goes to Jesus Christ. He is the one who accomplished this.”