As dramatic rescue efforts continue in Chile, where thirty-three miners were trapped deep inside a San Jose mine for 69 days and counting, Adventists are vying for recognition as the ones responsible for the miracle.
According to a report from the Guardian, "Evangelical, Adventist and Catholic clerics are vying to stamp their own faith on the expected rescue of the trapped men."
The report notes that each denomination is taking credit for what many Chileans perceive to be divine intervention in the miners' two-month survival.
An Adventist pastor who oversees the northern Chilean district of Copiapo has claimed direct involvement:
- "God has spoken to me clearly and guided my hand each step of the rescue," said Carlos Parra Diaz, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor at the San Jose mine. "He wanted the miners to be rescued and I am His instrument."
On August 31, the Adventist News Network reported that Parra Diaz coordinated the delivery of small Bibles with accompanying magnifying glasses to each of the trapped miners.
- Each Bible is labeled with the words, "We are praying for your return." [A Brazilian news]magazine also said that Psalms 40 is highlighted in each Bible. The passage 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 ... and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps."
The church also gave a copy of the Bible to the ministers of health and mining, as well as to each of the families at the rescue site. Parra is acting as the camp's chaplain, local Adventist leaders said.
According to the Guardian, however, the Adventist minister has competition.
- A litte bit further up the hill of Camp Hope, the improvised settlement of miners' families, rescuers, government officials and media, an evengelical preacher, Javier Soto , wandered from family to family with a guitar and songs of praise. "He listens to the music," said the pastor, gesturing to the azure sky.
Still, the Advantage may belong to Parra Diaz, who was granted permission to speak to the miners' families on a regular basis, the Guardian reports.
- Diaz stole a march over his rivals by obtaining permission to give a 10-minute talk to the assembled 33 families before their nightly briefing by government officials. "I do macro work. I am pastor to all." The other churches, he said, did "micro" work.
A Catholic cleric on hand refused to be drawn into the competition for religious prominence.
- Bishop Quintana, after concluding a mass in which TV cameras outnumbered worshippers, declined to be drawn on the subject of competition but said he had received supportive emails from all over the world. "What matters is that God is acting through human ingenuity to rescue these men."
It seems evident that the successful conclusion to this crisis situation is a boon for religious organizations including the Adventists in the area. However, given the routinely high mortality rate of miners in Chile's extremely dangerous privately owned mines, perhaps the religious leaders involved would do well to expand the scope of their petitioning for divine intervention. To include the hardworking poor and unprotected in prayer would be no minor miracle.
h/t Robert Jacobson
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/2707