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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. Poker Sem Depósito Fórum

    Boa tarde!, o meu nome é Darth_Vader e adorei imenso do teu blogue! Muito linda muito bem!
    Adequa-se muito bem em tudo aquilo que aqui vi.Existe sempre há muito para escrever nos blogs!Nada nada mais intrigante do que implementar a nossa escrita online!e por isso deixei este comentário!
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    September 2, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  2. Ferramentas de Poker Grátis

    Oi:), chamo-me Carla estudo Engenharia Civil e gostei imenso da tua página! Muito bonito muito bem!
    Adequa-se muito bem tudo aquilo que aqui li.Existe sempre tanto para escrever nos blogues!Nada nada mais satisfatório do que deixar a nossa marca na net!
    Adeus 🙂

    July 16, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  3. Bill Fitzgerald

    And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good. 2 Nephi 33:10 Book of Mormon

    February 7, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  4. defect

    so where is jesus when hundreds of other miners die. i guess he's busy getting drunk off his wine water or kissing the popes hairy ass.

    January 8, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Anglican

      That is probably the worst comment I have noted. You are a truly pathetic person. I can not say this without being vengeful, but you live or die regretting your comment.

      January 8, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  5. Ludwig Van

    My 2 cents: Ode to Joy with picture 🙂

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkr0xtzvjnc&w=640&h=360]

    December 19, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
  6. Jeff S

    I was in the Dominican Republic during the rescue and didn't see more than a couple minutes of coverage on CNN, so I didn't notice the sleeve. I noticed the inverted pentegrams on their shirts. On the Chilean flag, the pentagrm is right-side up.

    November 10, 2010 at 11:26 am |
  7. Richard

    Great story, virtually miraculous. If it doesn't move hearts and minds, it's hard to think of what would.

    November 10, 2010 at 10:16 am |
  8. Rev. Gregory D. Davidson, D.D.

    Friends,
    It really troubles me when I see people fighting over issues of God and Christianity. I wish everyone would be able to feel the great freedom that Christ offers. As witnesses and disciples of Jesus Christ all we can do is tell unbelievers the truth and let God do the rest.
    Many of you atheists and agnostics would really benefit from reading scripture. I noticed that some of you had remarked that if there was a God how could He let tragedies like this happen.
    God gave us a choice back in the Garden of eden and we chose not to follow Him. As a result of sin and going our own way, God gave us over to the consequences of that sin. As a result, all things, including humans and nature, are out of their created order,
    If there is no God, then this world is all we have. If there is no God, then we have no hope of having that terminal disease or that threatening situation resolved. I have seen many who call themselves atheists call out to God for help in their time of need.
    I know howver that there is a God and there is hope! There is new life for all who seek it. There is light at the end of the tunnel for all who will believe.

    November 10, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  9. Silverstar

    Just as the spirit of a person knows his or her thoughts, Gods' Spirit also knows His thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:10&11). One becomes a Christian which is telling God that you know you are a sinner, that you believe that Jesus Christ is the ONLY Saviour from sin. You accept His sacrifice for sin and give Him total control over your life (John 3:16 & 17, 1 John 1:9).
    God will send His Holy Spirit into your heart, which is like a promise, a seal that you belong to Him (2 Corinthians 1:22).
    The Holy Spirit communicates with your spirit so that you will understand Gods' thoughts on life revealed in the Bible. Living for Jesus is wonderful (in my case 21 years! & counting), but could also be really hard when you struggle with obeying God. Biblegateway on the Internet has an NIV Bible that you can read. A true Christian follows Jesus in life and He will take care of you in the life after death (John 10:27 to 30). Be blessed!

    November 10, 2010 at 4:56 am |
  10. dana_wovi

    well after all is said and done what matter most is realising that trusting in Christ Jesus is the best choice anyone can ever make. this miners plight is a message to the secular world who could not have known Jesus though blindness again steals it from their heart. it is my prayer no one is lost- Jesus is the answer for the world today.

    November 8, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  11. Terry

    Hmm, it is so hard to understand and believe Gods word and His deeds if you are not a child of God. Please decide today to follow Jesus and you will understand how God manages the affairs of His children. God loves you and is waiting for your response through His son Jesus Christ. Peace be unto you all

    November 8, 2010 at 5:51 am |
  12. Horace Ramtahal

    I was once pushing this need to have Jesus be beginning and end all of everything in mine, and others lives. Now, after careful consideration, I don't want anything to do with human beings being the messengers of God. It has been proven time and again, any thing man/woman touches it becomes evil. God's ego is beginning to seem more and more human. That scares me. If God of love has his/her limits, then I am sorry for God, and those who think that this is okay. My soul is doomed to eternal hell because I choose from some supposed options to follow my own path then you can have this God all to yourself, please take him and go to the hell you hope is for others.

    November 7, 2010 at 5:52 am |
  13. luther

    Let's give thanks to god for trapping the miners, no wait, for saving the millions of starving, those killed in the chursh in Iraq..well just give thanks for good things the religious can claim were the work of god.

    November 6, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
  14. Not perfect Just FORGIVEN

    It really saddens me that there are posts for sincere questions of the Christian faith, and they are answered by "Christians" hatefully. Some of the questions are valid. In a lost world should we who believe in the resurection of the SON of GOD, treat these questions respectfully, and show those who ask them the Love that Jesus would have us show. I don't claim to have all the answers but, some are seeking and we as Christ Followers should not be disrespectful of their questions. However, we should try and love them as Jesus loves all.

    November 6, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
  15. Anon

    Religious people remind me of that Spongebob episode.
    All hail the magic conch shell!

    November 5, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
  16. rasfnras

    I agree with That's What's Up. Even as a believer, I find it ridiculous how creationists so often defend their beliefs by saying something to the extent of "HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN A BANANA?!?! If you step back, it's really quite comical. Any apologist worth his salt will tell you this a dead-end argument, and then simply tacking on a re-cap of your beliefs...well, I guess we could all be doing more productive things right now. I'm getting out while the getting's good – reading all these posts respectively would give anyone an ulcer.

    November 5, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  17. Cal Naughton, Jr.

    I like to think of Jesus like with giant eagles wings, and singin' lead vocals for Lynyrd Skynyrd with like an angel band and I'm in the front row and I'm hammered drunk!

    November 5, 2010 at 11:23 am |
  18. Cal Naughton, Jr.

    I think those miners should have worn tuxedo T-Shirts because they say I want to be formal, but now that I'm out of that crappy mine I'm here to party. Jesus would've understood.

    November 5, 2010 at 11:09 am |
  19. Dave

    Great stuff :).

    "I am fine because Christ lives in me."

    Such simple yet profound words. Beautiful.

    November 4, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
  20. John B

    Impressed and humbled that CNN has this BLOG and published this TRUTH

    The miners prayed constantly to our LORD JESUS

    If we want TRUE CHANGE for the better not WORSE we need to turn back to our LORD JESUS....too long we have been away!!!!!!

    We will lose everything we have if we don't...but turn to HIM...OUR LORD because most of all you LOVE HIM

    GOD BLESS ( Catholic)

    November 4, 2010 at 10:50 am |
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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.