The story behind the Chilean miners' Jesus T-Shirts
October 14th, 2010
04:49 PM ET

The story behind the Chilean miners' Jesus T-Shirts

As miners were being pulled from Chile's San Jose mine Wednesday, most were wearing tan T-shirts over their coveralls. The Chilean government told reporters the green coveralls were designed to help absorb the sweat as they ascended to the top.

But Wes Little, a CNN editor/producer in Atlanta, wondered why the miners were wearing the T-shirt over their coveralls. He noticed a logo on the T-shirt's left sleeve for the Jesus Film Project.

Here's what we found:

The Jesus Film Project is a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ International, the massive Orlando, Florida-based evangelical ministry.

The Jesus Film Project tells us they have translated the film into 1,105 languages and that it has been seen in every country. You can watch or listen to over a 1,000 of the translations here.

The main goal of TJFP's ministry is to create and distribute effective media in every language, says Berry Fiess, the group's director of field information services.

Seventeen days into the mine accident, CCCI country director for Chile, Christian Maureira, started contacting public officials to see if they could send the miners a copy of the film. Fiess said Maureira was able to reach a daughter and a brother of miner Jose Henriquez.

Through that family contact, the group was able to send an MP3 audio version of the Jesus film and an MP3 audio version of the New Testament in Spanish to Henriquez down in the mine.

The Jesus film explains that the New Testament tells how Jesus is laid in a tomb-like cave after his crucifixion. Three days later, Jesus is said to have risen from the dead. In the Jesus film, women come to the tomb and find the stone that blocked the entrance has been rolled away, the cave empty.

It is unclear if the miners saw the resurrection story as a parallel for their hoped-for rescue, but Jose Henriquez passed along a letter to CCCI's Maureira from inside the mine. Fiess shared the English translation with CNN:

Thank you for this tremendous blessing for me and my coworkers. It will be good for our spiritual edification. I am fine because Christ lives in me.

We have prayer services at 12 noon and 6 pm.

"At the end of the letter," Fiess said, "(Henriquez) said goodbye with Psalm 95:4, which says, 'In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him.'"

A few days later, Henriquez asked Maureira to get them special T-shirts.

"The T-shirts were a gift from Campus Crusade for Christ Chile," Fiess said. "In the front you can read, 'Gracias Senor' - 'Thank you Lord.'"

And on the back, Psalm 95:4.

"Apparently, all the miners liked them," Fiess said. "It kind of solidified them."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Chile • Christianity • Missionaries • South America

soundoff (580 Responses)
  1. ybs

    Since religious sheep beat off (or touch themselves) as often as non-believers, why sheep keep fooling themselves of their superior moral values? 🙂

    There is nothing humble or innocuous about religion or religious sheep. They've fooled themselves for millennia! 🙂


    November 3, 2010 at 8:13 pm |
  2. JennyTX

    Makes me sad for all the miners who have died in mining accidents over the years. Why weren't they saved? Surely they prayed, right?

    November 3, 2010 at 7:48 pm |
  3. That's What's Up

    what I want to know is who knocked up the "virgin" mary. I seriously doubt anybody really believes it just magically happened. My guess is she was running around with Peter, Paul and the whole damn mall

    November 3, 2010 at 3:18 pm |
  4. pole.uk

    "May those who have Eyes, See; and those who have Ears, Hear"

    There's a Christian symbolic behind the story of 33 Chile Miners – some say that their 70 days symbolize 7 years of Tribulation... and Salvation after that.
    It might be a sign of upcoming events and Christian hope, regardless of the atrocities

    November 3, 2010 at 3:01 pm |
  5. Ned Flanders

    Advertisements for a Christian film? Now I'm completely disgusted. I found the words interesting, and even gathered pictures of the miners until I was able to see all the words and images, then translated them into English. I found them inspirational. Knowing that they were nothing more than an advertisement for a freaking church group is appalling. Have these Jeebus thumpers no shame. DISGUSTING!

    November 3, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
  6. M. Arif

    Common sense is not so common, Praise for the creator NOT for the creation, Adam. Ibrahim, Noha, David, Moses, Jesus, Muhammed (may God peace be upon them all), were creations of God. ONLY the creator "GOD" can help us acheive in the heaven and the earth and every thing between them.
    If you do bad you will have to pay for it, no body else will pay for it. If you do good you will be rewarded in the world and here after on "the Day of judgement". God knows what in our hearts, the hidden and the obvious. We can fool people but not the God. What goes around comes around. Truth will prewell. This is common sense.

    October 30, 2010 at 3:04 am |
  7. Iqbal khan


    October 29, 2010 at 10:47 pm |
  8. Ocean

    The T-Shirts, designed by Christian Maureira, Director of Campus Crusade for Christ Chile, actually depict an inverted Pentagram symbol highly utilized by the Illuminati and Satanists. The colors of the Chilean Flag are also inverted on this T-Shirt design. The Chilean Flag is blue and white at the top with the white star in the center of the blue square, and red at the bottom. This design depicts red at the top and blue at the bottom (inverted) and the white star (Pentagram), which is normally upright , is inverted (upside down). What would be the reasoning for this Director of a supposed Christian Organization to both invert the colors of the flag of Chile and the Star (Pentagram) on the Chilean flag? What would be the reasoning for this Director to also request that these rescued miners wear an inverted Petagram thanking God when an inverted Pentagram is actually a symbol utilized by Satanists/Luciferians/Illuminati?

    October 29, 2010 at 6:32 am |
  9. June

    Here's my 2 cents. God is eternal. He never had a beginning and never will have an end. When He states that He created the earth in six days, I believe that He did it, because it is possible for HIm to do it. I believe His Word. Now there are dinosaur fossils under millions of years' worth of layers under the earth. I believe that this was a giant lizard planet before God recreated the earth and put the present-day creatures, including mankind upon this earth. Why this old planet could have had many mulitplied generations of creations before this most recent one 6000 years ago. Remember that the Creator has an eternity past. He states that He will create a new heavens and a new earth in the future where only righteousness dwells.
    I will be there, because I took up God's offer of complete forgiveness of my sins through my faith in His Son's sacrifice for me on the cross. He has already prepared my future with Him, and invites everyone to come to Him for salvation, so we can live in the eternity future with Him. He sees all the suffering and will make all things new. He cares, and that is why He sent Jesus to destroy death and to make a way for all to live with Him for eternity. You just have to believe Him. Simple faith is all it takes. I will always put my faith in God rather than man, because man was only born yesterday, but God was always there.

    October 29, 2010 at 4:59 am |
  10. Anti-Valdivieso


    October 28, 2010 at 2:28 am |
  11. andy

    It would have saved lives if at least a couple of the miners had been brought up dead in their jesus t shirts. Perhaps that would have convinced some people that their beliefs are not consistent with reality. Not that I wished the miners any harm. I just think that giving credit to the hard work work of (probably deluded) individuals is the way to go. We will never reach the bulk of the deluded. Sad for humanity.

    October 27, 2010 at 7:57 pm |
  12. David Hildebrand

    I praise the Lord that God answered our prayers. We prayed alsmost every day for you. I am so thankful for all the safety returns back up from the mine and that you are giving God the glory for saving you. We know that only God that could work such a great micracle.

    October 27, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  13. George Waugh

    Peace2All, Oct 15, 2010, 12:55 : I noticed that you asked a question about spirituality in your comment. If you are sincere the answer is described in the Gospel of John chapter 3 where Jesus explains this to Nicodemus, a Jewish leader. Here He describes spiritual birth which is necessary to have a relationship with our spiritual heavenly Father. If you confess your sins and ask God to forgive you and you are serious about it He will forgive you and cause you to experience the new birth that Jesus is describing in John 3. May God bless!

    October 27, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  14. JJ

    Dear God – Please save me from your followers.

    October 27, 2010 at 9:01 am |
  15. L.E. Bunch

    John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever belieth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

    I only have to answer to God for my sins and you will have to answer for yours. It's your choice. We live in a country where you can choose any religion you desire or no religion. Nothing is forced on you like other parts of the world.

    God does't force you to believe. The choice is yous

    What ever your choice,it's a choice only you will have to answer for on judgement day.

    October 26, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
  16. Elaine

    What a great testimony to our Lord & Savior,Jesus Christ!

    October 22, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  17. Kace

    ROBERT HARRISON, it is a mistake to assume that we atheists object to only one religion. I believe I speak for most atheists and agnostics when I say that since we are unbelieving of all gods, if those t-shirts said Thank Allah or some other imaginary sky friend, we would be equally repulsed. Let's give credit where credit is due, and thank the scientists who are the real heroes for getting these miners freed. I would like to turn the question to you: how would you react if those t-shirts thanked Allah for getting them through their ordeal?

    October 20, 2010 at 7:06 am |
  18. ammy

    For from the first making of the world, those things of God which the eye is unable to see, that is, his eternal power and existence, are fully made clear, he having given the knowledge of them through the things which he has made, so that men have no reason for wrongdoing:
    Because, having the knowledge of God, they did not give glory to God as God, and did not give praise, but their minds were full of foolish things, and their hearts, being without sense, were made dark.
    Seeming to be wise, they were in fact foolish,
    And by them the glory of the eternal God was changed and made into the image of man who is not eternal, and of birds and beasts and things which go on the earth.
    For this reason God gave them up to the evil desires of their hearts, working shame in their bodies with one another: Because by them the true word of God was changed into that which is false, and they gave worship and honour to the thing which is made, and not to him who made it, to whom be blessing for ever. So be it. For this reason God gave them up to evil passions, and their women were changing the natural use into one which is unnatural:
    1:27 And in the same way the men gave up the natural use of the woman and were burning in their desire for one another, men doing shame with men, and getting in their bodies the right reward of their evil-doing.
    And because they had not the mind to keep God in their knowledge, God gave them up to an evil mind, to do those things which are not right;
    Being full of all wrongdoing, evil, desire for the goods of others, hate, envy, putting to death, fighting, deceit, cruel ways, evil talk, and false statements about others;
    Hated by God, full of pride, without respect, full of loud talk, given to evil inventions, not honouring father or mother,
    Without knowledge, not true to their undertakings, unkind, having no mercy:
    Who, though they have knowledge of the law of God, that the fate of those who do these things is death, not only go on doing these things themselves, but give approval to those who do them.

    October 20, 2010 at 6:24 am |
    • Samnot

      gone off the deep end again? see a doctor and get some meds. you are not a prophet.

      October 20, 2010 at 6:30 am |
  19. John

    To those of you that claim to know everything just remember nor Jesus, nor Mohammed, Nor Abraham, nor Budda are GOD. They were so call prophets, messengers if you will. God is god and the prophets were His/her messengers. Jesus had nothing to do with the miners, God did! There believe that the can survive, their hope that was God...not jesus, not abraham, not mohammed. Get over it!

    October 19, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  20. Charles

    High all of you,
    Jesus said in Matthew 10:28:Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.So Jesus is making it clear that God is interested in the soul not in the body no matter what age, because God is Spirit.We since Adam became mortal bodies and worry about the body not the soul.The main reason that we are in flesh and live in this huge lie of material world is to be able to detach ourselves from it as much as possible and live a spiritual life according to the Gospel as brothers and sisters helping each other in every sense within God's love no matter what nation,colour, belief, etc. we represent,in order to return back where we were to our Spiritual Father and God with the hope that we remain within His realm forever.

    October 19, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.