If you’re claustrophobic, don’t read on. I’ll be the first to admit that the very thought of being trapped with 32 other men in a tiny 600 square foot chamber a half a mile underground . . . in pitch darkness inside the bowels of a collapsed mine . . . for seventeen days and nights . . . without any con- tact with the outside (above) world . . . is the stuff of nightmares! And yet when that small rescue drill bit bore 2200 feet down through the Chilean rock to where the 33 miners were trapped and opened up a six inch wide shaft to the men, the ecstatic cries of loved ones above and below ground could be heard around the world!
Piece by piece the trapped miners’ story has emerged up that life-giving shaft. When the gold and silver mine tunnel wall collapsed above them on august 5, the 33 miners scrambled to a rescue chamber carved long ago into the mine shaft. There under the leadership of 54 year old shift foreman, Luis Urzua, the men organized themselves around the desperate hope that rescue would one day come. Available food was quickly rationed: two spoonfuls of tuna, a bite of crackers, a morsel of peaches and a sip of milk for each miner—every other day (thus stretching their two-day emergency supply to 17 days)! usage of their helmet lamps, their only source of portable light, was conserved. A nearby backhoe enabled them to break through to a small water reservoir. And they waited. Seventeen long days and nights (continuous nights, really) until they were found. Oxygen is now being pumped into the mine, an intercom system has been established, letters and love notes have been exchanged with family members—but the miners have not yet been told that a rescue shaft wide enough to hoist them the half mile to the surface may take until Christmas to drill. NASA experts are offering advice as to how to preserve emotional and mental health in such cramped quarters for so long a wait (as in the International Space Station).
Thirty-three trapped survivors, whose hopes are pinned on a rescue from above—sounds like a reprise of the human story, doesn’t it? Trapped down the mine shaft of this planet, an entire race of survivors waiting out earth’s long dark night for deliverance. And yet, truth be known, most of the entrapped are either only vaguely aware of being trapped at all or have long ago given up any hope of any rescue at all.
It is for them—and for all of us, really—that on September 1 this campus begins a very special 40 days of Prayer rescue initiative. Our tools are simple: a Bible, a printed forty-day collection of Scripture promises, and a prayer card with the names of five lost (entrapped) people that we know. the only oth- er necessity is yours and my commitment every day for forty days to join with a prayer partner in reading a page from the 40 Days: Prayers and Devotions to Prepare for the Second Coming collection of promises and interceding before god on behalf of five people (each of us knows) who need Jesus. Every day. For forty days. Beginning September 1. And when the forty days are over, revival preacher Lee Venden will begin a nine evening revival series here at Pioneer for the campus and community. Forty days of prayer, nine nights of preaching— we believe the Spirit can transform it and us into a mighty rescue effort for Christ. And given the times, can you think of a more critical time for us to join heaven in attempting the rescue of those who are trapped in the dark? What if nobody had gone looking for the 33 Chilean miners?