Wednesday, October 20, 2010
By Brenda Black
Last week I confessed about a backyard sizzler that scorched the lawn and charred my pride when I was younger. In the midst of that trash fire gone hay wire, at least one key thing prevented anyone from getting burned. We kept our heads and developed a strategy to beat those flames into submission. Thankfully, with the help of neighbors each doing their part, all succeeded without injury.
I guess a respect for the flames and a healthy fear caused me to engage without drawing too near the source of danger. But that short-lived battle with a wild fire ended in only a matter of minutes and was nothing even close to the ordeal of those miners in Chile, who are still on my mind this week. I'm still wondering if the fear of dying was daily on their minds. And if they pondered the possibility of never seeing daylight again, just what kind of calm assurance would keep 33 men sane in a dark cavern nearly a half mile under the soil? How did they not panic? The answer is prayer and order.
According to news coverage, the miners created a highly structured civilization with each survivor assuming specific roles in their temporary community. Daily prayer was led by Jose Henriquez, named official “pastor”. (See God goes deep into the earth and into the heart of man.) An electrician wired up lamps to provide 12 hours of light each day. Three miners were in charge of the food deliveries and distribution. They had a media team in charge of phone lines, cameras, and video conferences. Jonny Barrios was a miner with training in advanced first aid; logically he became the resident doctor. Some patrolled the cave and watched for signs of another rockfall. One miner acted as environmental assistant, using devices to measure oxygen, Co2 levels and air temperature. The group as a whole was divided into three categories and the leader of each of those reported directly to Luis Ursua, the shift foreman on Aug. 5, when the men entered the mine.
Their half-day shift ended 69 days later and the world watched in amazement as men were elevated to loved ones and appeared healthy, clean shaven and well nourished. That's because they took showers daily and brushed their teeth, slept on air mattresses and “Dr. Barrios” vaccinated the entire group against diphtheria, tetanus and pneumonia! Apparently, the miners were just as busy beneath the ground as those atop preparing for their rescue.
We can learn a lot from these noble South Americans about what real community looks like, whether 700 meters below the desert or right in our hometowns. The Chilean miners modeled citizenship that needs to be implemented in civic clubs, local schools and sports teams; in corporate offices, families and all the way up to national government. They also provided a glimpse into how the body of Christ is meant to work.
“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ...Now the body is not made up of one part but of many... God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body...there should be no division in the body...its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-26 selected)
Each miner brought his strengths; they kept their heads and worked for the benefit of everyone. And they prayed every day. Now that's a strategy for success and a way to keep rampant anxiety in check.
But I fear that the Hollywood world pounding on the doors of their humble homes will ruin the hearts and heads of the men who managed to keep their wits for nearly 70 days, when most humans would totally freak. Formerly unknown to those beyond the local mining town, these men are now world famous. They are being pursued by opportunistic authors and movie producers and others who promise riches for the scoop on their adventure. I hope their calm intelligence prevents rash decisions in light of so much temptation. And I pray that the faith they relied upon way down deep in the heart of the earth remains intact up here on the surface.
If indeed they manage to maintain the sanity that they knew in their mining fraternity under the worse of circumstances, maybe we will be blessed to have true contemporary heroes among us. Let's just pray that they keep using their heads so they don't get burned in the days ahead.