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. Cindy Ochirosi

    Thank You CNN for reporting this story! Praise God! He is good!

    October 15, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
  2. edwin wilson

    Jesus keeps his promises.May the Chilean live a blessed life.May God bless the Chilean Pesident

    October 15, 2010 at 1:37 pm |
  3. bobaloo

    Russia to help Venezuela build nuclear power station. Another oil rich nation. Bushy and his buddy honest eyes Putin. The big V will point missles right at California and Florida so don't worry about BP oil spills guys. No money left to fight the good fight. Saddam oil revenge wars...Capitol wasted... Just keep importing crack and party away in the new 3rd world Americaaaaaaa. Rev 16:21.

    October 15, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
  4. xiaobao

    This is the most irrelevant piece of news ever.

    October 15, 2010 at 1:12 pm |
    • Brady

      How is this irrelevant? Every little detail of the rescue has been discussed.....I don't see how them all wearing the same t shirts is anymore irrelevant than any other detail of it. I think it is a great story.....it shows that people still care for each other and want to serve God!!

      October 15, 2010 at 11:13 pm |
  5. Fan of Frank

    Frank, Keep up the good work! I am with you 100%, I admire the way you have handled David Johnson, and the great debate you gave him!

    October 15, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
    • Frank

      Thank you. I just try to encourage people to read and to do some deep pondering on things that matter. We all need to learn to think for ourselves. That's really all I'm saying – make your beliefs your own.

      October 15, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
  6. Virginia

    If you have never experienced the presence of Jesus in this day and time , it is very hard to understand it! I have and KNOW He is here! It is just learning to know! Ask Him to let you know His presence!

    October 15, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
  7. edwords

    Those West Virginia miners prayed, too. They died.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
  8. Swoopy009

    Jesus Christ is Lord!!

    October 15, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  9. edwords

    The people of Chile elected an "agnatheist" years ago. Michelle Bachelet, who did a great job and and may run again.

    America needs to GROW UP!

    October 15, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
  10. HeIsGod

    @ reallymom123 – Thank you so much for blessing me with your strength, courage, and affirmation on the very Word of God! May the Lord Jesus Christ keep using you for His Glory as well as all those who have been standing with courage and boldness. All of you have inspired my soul....The Lord greatly bless all of my brothers & sisters in Christ, for HeIsGod and beside Him, there is non other. GLORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 15, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  11. kay

    Isee jesus as an etiopian; with only a skill of a carpenter

    October 15, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  12. John Montiel

    Arguably the greatest evangelist since Paul the Apostle, Billy Graham, was quoted as saying that there were things in the Bible that even he, didn't understand. We have gone out our way to put God out of our daily lives, still He hasn't moved an inch. Calamity is one of the ties that binds Humanity. God doesn't bring calamity to us, but He sure brings us through it. His perfect design is to provide a way of escaping this mortal coil. For some physically, for sure, spiritually. He (Jesus) says, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the World, you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the World." John 16:33.

    October 15, 2010 at 11:55 am |
  13. Marie

    JESUS said, "If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you before my FATHER" You know I certainly want my LORD not to be ashamed of me. I do my best to live for CHRIST!

    October 15, 2010 at 11:52 am |
  14. Ann

    Many of you should check out "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. If you are really a truth seeker, you will find it very insteresting. If you are just an arguer, it's not for you.

    October 15, 2010 at 11:21 am |
    • Raison

      When I see a suggestion like yours, I often wonder who would bother to read the book that is being suggested.
      If you have something to say, will you not say it and save us the trouble of looking for some book that we might not like anyway?
      Please try to say something other than "read this book". I, and maybe some other people, would appreciate it very much.

      October 15, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
    • Ann

      Raison, What is being debated here on a cnn comment board, can not be finalized here on a cnn comment board. A personal serach for real truth is what is necessary. However, here is a brief synopsis. The book is written by a journalistwho set out to disprove the existenece of Jesus Christ and acutally found overhwhelming evidence to support Jesus' existence and the historical validity of the Bible. The book urges readres to reach a verdict of their own after the "case" is presented.

      It is a well written book, as Lee was educated at the University of Missouri (Bachelor of Journalism degree, 1974) and Yale Law School (Master of Studies in Law degree, 1979). He was a professional journalist for 14 years at The Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, winning Illinois' top honors for investigative reporting (which he shared with a team he led) and public service journalism from United Press International.

      October 15, 2010 at 1:45 pm |
    • Raison


      A much better post AND book review at the same time! Awesome! Thanks for giving us the extra detail. Yes, "time will tell" as they say....and I will not read that book, thanks just the same. Have a nice weekend! 🙂

      October 16, 2010 at 9:47 am |
  15. John Henderson

    A word of advice to Christians on this post. If you argue with fools, you will never win because they do not comprehend truth. You are casting pearl before swine who have no appreciation of the value of pearls except to walk all over them and then tear you apart. An atheist in high school spent a lot of time trying to convince me there was no hell. He was oblivious to the Word of God. My final answer to him was that I was willing to wait and see and asked if he was. He never approached me again with his arguments. Save your energy for winning people, not arguments.

    October 15, 2010 at 11:17 am |
    • Raison

      @John Henderson

      A better post. Better check those pearls though. They aren't supposed to be that brown color and lumpy looking....are they?

      How can you win people when you are so arrogant? The only ones you will "win" are much like yourself I'll bet....

      October 15, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
    • Mike

      "Such people put up a version of Christianity suitable
      for a child of six and make that the object of their attack. When you try to explain the Christian
      doctrine as it is really held by an instructed adult, they then complain that you are making their heads
      turn round and that it is all too complicated and that if there really were a God they are sure He would
      have made "religion" simple, because simplicity is so beautiful, etc. You must be on your guard
      against these people for they will change their ground every minute and only waste your tune. Notice,
      too, their idea of God "making religion simple": as if "religion" were something God invented, and
      not His statement to us of certain quite unalterable facts about His own nature."

      "If what you want is an argument against
      Christianity (and I well remember how eagerly I looked for such arguments when I began to be afraid
      it was true) you can easily find some stupid and unsatisfactory Christian and say, "So there's your
      boasted new man! Give me the old kind." But if once you have begun to see that Christianity is on
      other grounds probable, you will know in your heart that this is only evading the issue."

      CS Lewis Mere Christianity

      October 15, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
  16. John Henderson

    Just be happy we are not Muslims or it would be off with your head, or something like that. A word to the wise among us Christians: Remember how Jesus told us to not cast our pearls before swine. If you argue with a fool, you will never win because they will never understand.

    October 15, 2010 at 11:10 am |
    • Raison

      @John Henderson

      "they will never understand" – poor choice of words dude. I feel that way about some Christians though anyway...but I still don't like using infinitives where they don't belong.
      Have fun with your Pharisee stuff. The outside of the cup may be clean, but for god's sake don't look inside the cup or you may puke everything out that you've eaten for the past week...

      October 15, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
  17. Life after death

    Peace2all–I'm not sure what your NDE was as you leave it a bit ambiguous, but as for the question of life after death in general, I wanted to address what some have said in regards to this topic. One commented that there could be many alternatives to what we consider life after death, citing reincarnation as one example. But lets examine the possibilities for some of these alternatives, and I'll go to reincarnation since that was one specifically mentioned. It rests upon the premise that we die and return as something/someone else, and generally our karma or actions in the present life determine what kind of existence we would have in the next. But for this to happen, there would have to be some kind of intelligent mind–something "in charge" that has the power not only to *determine*–make value judgments and evaluate good vs. evil–how our actions weigh out in the end, but also be able to direct our "life force/soul/being"–whatever you would associate with the essence of who we are, into the proper position in the next life. This makes very little sense to me and does not pose itself as a credible possibility being that we are so very complicated and capable of so much in the way of good and evil, and so many events occur in our lives that it would be construed as both good and evil (for example, someone may be born into a "good" family or have a high social status in life, but that doesn't mean she automatically has a good quality of life or that some tragedy won't happen to dramatically alter her life...). At any rate, then let's take the idea that we "just die"–that we essentially have no soul, no God, nothing beyond this existence. That doesn't make much sense to me either when I consider the design of the world–intelligent design–within things as small as a single cell to things as vast as the universe. Just a few thoughts that weigh in on intelligent design would be irreducible complexity (Michael Behe)–the idea that some things have parts that wouldn't make sense from an evolutionary standpoint–they have to all be in place simultaneously for them to function at all, as well as my personal experience of being a mother and marveling at the development of my children both within my womb and out. Don't these everyday yet amazing things show us something? Science is not an enemy to faith and reason when it is used and viewed properly–it ultimately leans toward evidence of a Creator, for He would have been the one to create the order of the universe and the kinds of natural laws it operates by. So, just for a moment assuming this Creator exists, the best explanation of life after death would come by revelation from such Creator...

    October 15, 2010 at 11:04 am |
    • Paul

      This lengthy paragraph represents the thinking of the majority of people. Ignorant of scientific process and evolutionary theory, they instead rest their judgement on anecdotal experience (i.e. "the development of my own children"). Anyone who has a real education and understanding of how biological and physical systems function understands that intelligent design is complete B.S. – unless you choose to believe that whatever intelligence is behind the designs intentionally set them up for failure, pain, and entropy.

      October 15, 2010 at 11:52 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Life after death

      Thanks for your thoughts. If you re-read my postings above and below about my experience of 'dying' or going through that process, I made 'no' claim to what actually happens, nor what the truth is. I can just tell you about my experience, which did not even remotely come close to what a lot of christians have *stated as fact* as to what happens after you die...or going through the dying process.

      As to the rest of your posting. Just because... something does or does not seem logical or reasonable to you about what actually happens after death, does not make your assertions any more valid, just because you 'think' them to be so.

      Again, there are 'possibly' innumerable possibilities as to what 'actually' happens after death.... should some part of you..i.e.. Awareness, Consciousness, Soul, etc... actually does survive.

      I would love to hear more of your thoughts on this...


      October 15, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
    • Life after death

      Sorry my paragraph had no breaks. I could have made some, I'm just trying to take care of three kids while being involved in this blog, so I was trying to be mindful of the content as best I could, and did not give as much attention to the form.

      As for ignorance of evolutionary theory, what exactly are your credentials? What is your area of expertise?

      I can't elaborate on all I have learned, heard, evaluated, nor can I remember all I have studied in this lifetime on these topics, but I was trying to draw upon what daily points me to the belief in a Creator. I am amazed at the complexity of how all our systems function, and while our bodies are not perfect, and are subject to pain, failure, etc., they are nonetheless amazing (and sin, generally and specifically speaking–e.g. alcohol abuse by pregnant women causing birth defects, overexposure to smoke causing cancer, etc.–in my worldview, would account for much of what goes wrong with our bodies). The human eye, the brain, our digestive systems–fascinating and amazing!

      October 15, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
    • Nathan

      Paul, I actually dont think we have to hide behind this one. Christianity certainly has to deal with the problem you are presenting. Although, it is a problem that everyone in the world must address if not on a theological/philosophical level, at least on an experiential level. It is the problem of pain and evil.

      I dont make assumptions anymore about what people have read or heard concerning the Bible so please dont take this as an insult if you already know. The Bible records that the first two humans were made in God's image but not "perfect" contrary to what is believed on the street level. [side note: we cant even really comprehend “perfect” for that matter]. Anyway, the first two humans were made capable of sinning. The Bible also records that they did indeed rebel against their Creator. At this the world flipped upside down. Alienation was brought between man and man, man and nature, and man and God. The world fell under a curse. I believe this to be the origin of what all of my biology profs called entropy. This seems to be in accord with your last response of “intelligent design is complete B.S. – unless you choose to believe that whatever intelligence is behind the designs intentionally set them up for failure, pain, and entropy.”

      This account in the scriptures gives us an intelligent Creator who allowed pain and entropy. There is more to say about this but let me stop for now and say this...I am assuming this is not a suitable intelligent designer for you based on the phrase you used “that whatever intelligent design is behind the designs SET THEM UP.”

      Any thoughts on any of this? I honestly cannot recall from my classes but what do evolutionary scientists claim as the origin of entropy?

      October 16, 2010 at 1:21 am |
    • Life after death

      I just read your posts to Brad. I had been hearing you saying that your NDE did not seem to line up with what certain faiths claim to teach about the afterlife, but I was unclear as to what exactly happened in your experience. It leaves me with a sense of curiosity, though I can understand why you wouldn't want to post such a personal experience where it might be minimized and scrutinized by others. Can I ask, did you have a sense of peace? Of expectancy, like you were on the verge of something but not quite there yet? Or just a sense of "being"? Is it possible, since you did come back to life in your body, that you did not experience all that occurs after we transition from this kind of life to everlasting life in a more complete way? In other words, there have been others who have died and come back to life, one biblical example I can think of is Lazarus (and there's no record of what he experienced in those days he was dead), and what's to say God didn't withhold the fullest sense of life after death experience from them and you–kept you in simply that sort of sense of "being"? Does your experience outright contradict Christian teaching on life after death, or does it simply not go that far and leave open the possibility...? Thanks for sharing.

      October 16, 2010 at 9:37 am |
  18. Mom of 5

    Thanks be to God and all those that were apart of this rescue. There is a symbolism if you are a true believer. Think about this. There are 33 men, Jesus was 33 when he died on the cross. They were rescued on the 13th and there were 12 deciples plus Jesus. Now don't tell me this was not to be. God is great. Just trust in him.

    October 15, 2010 at 10:41 am |
    • Paul

      That's right! We can't argue with that logic!!! And I have 33 pimples on my butt – so my butt must be Jesus! Halleluejia!

      October 15, 2010 at 11:54 am |
  19. Vermicious G

    Miner: "I spent 69 days trapped underground and all I got was this lousy t-shirt"

    October 15, 2010 at 10:33 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Vermicious G

      Now THAT was funny..! LOL....!! 🙂

      October 15, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
  20. brad

    Some comment above reminded me of Carl Sagan. He developed a message and a language to transmit into space to contact other life which may not be there, which may not care about us, and may (or not) be intelligent. This is called "prayer".
    On another note: Christians await the second coming of Jesus. Others await the second coming of those aliens offered by Eric von Daniken.

    October 15, 2010 at 10:13 am |
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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.