I am convinced that each person on the earth has something to teach every other person on the earth. We are meant to learn and grow in this garden we call LIFE. Sometimes though, those without the knowing or knowledge with which we’re most comfortable, can be disregarded and/or ignored by those whom we consider the uneducated or unsophisticated among us. Nevertheless, I love the Scripture that asks the question, “has not God chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the promised Kingdom.” (cf. James 2:5)
These thoughts come on the heels of a recent story I read about the 33 Chilean coal miners who were trapped in the bowels of the earth for 2 months and 8 days back in August of 2010. Most of us remember the event as evening news accounts, but one writer, Hector Tobar, has chronicled the entire incident by culling the hearts and minds of the miners who lived (and thought they’d die) in the dark, fetid atmosphere of a copper-gold mine in Chile. This passage from Mr. Tobar’s book, DEEP DOWN DARK, is especially memorable and telling:
“On August 5th, a Christian man named Don Jose Henriquez, turned to a fellow miner named Mario and whispered, “God is the only way out of this.” Before the miners Mario announced, “Don José, we know you are a Christian man, and we need you to lead us in prayer. Will you?”
From that moment forward Henríquez became known as “the Pastor” to his fellow miners because as soon as he opens his mouth and begins to talk it’s clear that he knows how to speak of God and to God … Henríquez drops to his knees and tells the men they should also do so, because when you pray you have to humble yourself before your Creator. “We aren’t the best men, but Lord, have pity on us,” Henríquez begins. It’s a simple statement, but it strikes several of the men hard. “No somos los mejores hombres.” We aren’t the best men. Víctor Segovia knows he drinks too much. Víctor Zamora is too quick to anger. Pedro Cortez thinks about the poor father he’s been to his young daughter: He left the girl’s mother, and he hasn’t even done the basic fatherly thing of visiting his little girl, even though he knows his absence is inflicting a lasting hurt on her.
“Jesus Christ, our Lord, let us enter the sacred throne of your grace,” Henríquez continues. “Consider this moment of difficulty of ours. We are sinners and we need you.” Just about everyone who was at the entrance to the Refuge or inside is on his knees … Henríquez is a man of God, and suddenly here, in this tomb, the religious severity that many of them found annoying during the everyday encounters of the A shift is exactly what they need. “We want you to make us stronger and help us in this hour of need,” Henríquez says. “There’s nothing we can humanly do without your help. We need you to take charge of this situation. Please, Lord. Take charge of this.”
Henriquez’ prayer, prayed in humble trust in GOD allowed those miners trapped with him, and indeed the whole world, to see a miracle in a world in which very few miracles allegedly exist. I believe Henriquez’ prayer has much to teach us about the power of prayer and the nature of a humble and loving GOD. My own experience tells me that it is in the “letting go,” that the discovery of so much more is realized. “Please, Lord. Take charge of this,” Henriquez prays.
I am always ready to learn from the underside; from the ones who society supposes has little to offer. Uneducated, poor trapped miners teach me that GOD does answer prayer—when we have learned to let go and let God. What new thing have you learned from those who live on the underside of life?