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. Steve MacLeod

    The story of how 33 miners were able to survive for over 60 days 2000 feet down in a mine and how people from all over the world came to help along with the local mine experts is very special. Although I am a believer in Jesus (the ) Christ I think we should just marvel at how this came about. I will not offer explanations as to why these men survived and other miners and victims of natural disasters did not. 33 came out alive and what it did for a nations natural pride is great news. Chile needed this after the serious earthquake that took place earlier this year.

    October 15, 2010 at 8:42 pm |
  2. And the winner is...

    Mark Alexander.. i cant believe i could have said it any better, you took the words right out of my mouth! Satan is lurking, planting these ideas into those who turned from God, so they seem that they have all the answers, when in actuality they dont, and satan is the one who, sadly, is having his way with non-believers.

    October 15, 2010 at 8:41 pm |
    • Raison

      Satan must have done it! LOL

      October 16, 2010 at 10:07 am |
  3. JustThinking


    I hate spam in a blog
    I hate spam in the mail
    I hate spam on the net
    I hate spam that I get
    I will not click on that link to see, sir
    I will not help your fake kids and friend, sir
    Take your dumb spam and don't come back
    Take that spam and shove it in your crack

    Why don't you just google what he gave you?
    ps> if it is a bad link, your security on your pc should prevent anything from happening...other wise, just google.

    October 15, 2010 at 8:08 pm |
    • Raison


      What? You didn't like my little ditty? gosshh, and I spent so much time on it too. All the time I had set aside for dealing with spam...too bad.
      If you think that spammer, who has scattered those bits all over the internet for months, is on the up-and-up, then why don't you give him all your money? I don't have to click on something just because it's there. I get a choice on that, you know.
      I made mine and wrote that ditty. You support him and I can only imagine why...

      October 16, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  4. Barbara Ratliff

    Tell me man, do you feel Allah in your heart? Do you know he is the one true god because of this feeling?

    I'm not trying to argue with you. I am seeking information.

    David ... are you really seeking information? Then get a Bible and read it for yourself ... from Genesis to Revelation ... a complete picture of Creation, the Fall of Man, the Redemption of Man, and the New Heaven and New Earth. Read it as an open-minded person who is seeking "truth" as I think you've at least alluded to.

    October 15, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
  5. Cricket

    God gave us free will- to love people or to hurt people- just as a parent lve his or her child so much to let then live their lives ( all the while waiting of faith that they will choose right and come home again someday)- so does God love us enough to let us be- always waiting and calling and right behind us for support. John 3:16 is the ultimate act of love for humans.
    True living will happen in Heaven with God- not here on earth- people die here- and it's terrible... Always... But- God knows that death on earth is our birth into His Heavenly Kingdom.

    October 15, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
  6. Barbara Ratliff

    What a wonderful demonstration of people living out their faith in Jesus ... in a very, very difficult situation. Their faith was tested and it remained strong and they encouraged the world ... they encouraged me.

    October 15, 2010 at 7:07 pm |
  7. Gloria

    Very nice story. Too bad the comments turned into attack and defend. Everyone will believe whatever they want to believe about God or no God. That is the freedom we were both with – the freedom to choose. If you believe in God, you don´t need to defend Him or attack those who choose not to. And if you don´t believe in anything but logic and science, that´s your right, etc., etc., etc.


    October 15, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
  8. American

    Great. The Bible thumpers are going international.

    October 15, 2010 at 6:56 pm |
  9. sissifus

    Come on , you unbelievers.... We don't have all the answers...We just love and trust in a Person who loved us enough to give the ultimate...His life!!! Nothing like falling in love with Jesus!!! Wish you would let go and check Him out........ BEFORE YOU CHECK OUT ONE DAY;-)

    October 15, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  10. Heckler

    So, a few questions.

    The bible is supposedly the word of God, right?

    Could this book have been written by ANYONE? (It's a pretty good STORY. I've read it.)

    If this book is the word of GOD him/herself, whatever, how could there be so many different religions, with different beliefs, and different versions OF THE BIBLE?

    What happened to the Egyptians, who existed long before Christ walked the Earth, and long before the 10 commandments were ever written? "You shall have no other Gods before me"...The Egyptians worshiped over 2,000 different Gods. Sounds like a major break in the first commandment if you ask me. So if they were before the 10 commandments, and Jesus wasn't around to spread the word yet, what happened to them in the afterlife according to Christianity? Do they forever live in purgatory?

    I don't believe MYSELF, that Bible is the word of God. I cannot speak for others, nor will I try to. Anyone could have written the Bible. In my opinion, it is just a story, and a good moral code to live by, nothing else.

    Just know, Organized Religion separates people. It's proven in this blog!

    October 15, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
    • god follower

      I appreciate the honesty and sincerity in this post. I have been satisfied by answers I found to some of these issues, and have become more certain about Jesus. Its tough, because you are really banking your whole life on a premise/idea/belief. Maybe you don't see yourself as being on a spiritual journey, but I ask God that he would reveal himself to you.

      October 15, 2010 at 10:01 pm |
    • Raison

      @god follower

      Yes, by all means! Pray! Pray that God shows himself to all of us! Pray until you are blue in the face. We've been waiting for your prayers to be answered, but isn't it strange how God likes to let us snipe at each other instead of doing something real?

      October 16, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  11. Ken

    Unending LOVE, Amazing GRACE!

    Such is the extent of God's Love and Grace for all of us.

    Thanks be to God, forever and ever.

    October 15, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  12. Paula

    Best book on the subjects being posed here: Greg Boyd's book "Is God To Blame?" must read for believers and unbeliervers alilke!

    October 15, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  13. Neil

    You god botherers are so pathetic. It was the engineers who got them out. It's not like they suddenly transproted themselves to the surface.
    If you are so sure that your "god" was involved, maybe it was him who caused the mine to collapse in the first place.
    Goos job that the scientists, doctors and engineers were around to get them out. If it was left to "god" their dead bodies – probably some of them half eaten half eaten – would still be half a mile underground.

    And what about the 2000 miners or so who died around the world while these lucky miners were trapped. Where was their "god" I'll tell you where – nowhere.

    October 15, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  14. abby

    Praise God for his blessings upon these miners and their families. Never lose faith! He is always with us - in the depths of our despair and in the darkest moments! Amen!

    October 15, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
  15. innocent bystander

    Why are there even people here who are "debating" about this rescue?
    Can they NOT HANDLE the fact that these men love their God, Jesus and that they thank HIM for their RESCUE?
    That the hospital workers and rescuers all insist that it was MIRACLE they survived, and in PERFECT health?
    That most of them were released the SAME DAY?
    Why are they OFFENDED by His role that the Chileans witnessed in this event?
    Even offended by the mention His NAME?

    "God had nothing to do with getting the miners out", you say?

    Why don't you ask them, and see if they agree with you!

    October 15, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @innocent bystander

      Whatever their response... whether they 'believe' in jesus or god or not, does not *proove* anything. It is just a statement of their beliefs. If it(their 'beliefs') works for them, and gets them through this ordeal...Great.

      But let's not equate belief=to absolute facts here.

      October 15, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
    • Raison


      LOL...was that a speed bump you just ran over? LOL

      October 16, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  16. Iqbal khan

    Praise your God Almighty ...........


    October 15, 2010 at 4:20 pm |
  17. Zanna

    Thank you for this article. It is unfortunate that many take this as an opportunity to bash one another in open forum.

    "There are two ways to live: one as though nothing is a miracle and the other as though everything is." ~Albert Einstein

    October 15, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
  18. brad

    On this site we (me included!) ridicule, castigate, berate, insinuate, verbally brutalize, belittle, abuse, insult, and otherwise detest each other. Throw in a little ( a lot !) character assasination, and inuendoes about the quality of the other guy's lineage.

    Jesus is said to have given His life to redeem people like us. Such an idea could never come out of the mind of man. It's too absurd. Apparently, God can even use absurdities to work Her will.

    October 15, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
    • innocent bystander


      You're absolutely right. Why bother with hating on each other? What's done is done, praise God and pray such a horrible event happens again!

      October 15, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
  19. Molly

    Do people ever think before they post such comments? You make yourself sound like you are smart and got it all figured out, but you are blind and foolish. Christianity is the most critizised and hated religion in the world, and people don't tolerate it. Yet you you say that Christians are intolerant. No wonder the Bible says "the foolish says in his heart there is no God..." Tsunami is a curse as well as other natural disasters. Read Revelation if you want to know the future of the human kind, it is already happenning. There are many blessings in life that many don't see as blessings. The fact the you exist and have air to breathe is already a blessing, yet you claim that there is no God. Prove that there is no God.

    Actually, you know what, God doesn't need defenders, He can defend Himself, as for those who don't believe in him that's their problem. They made their decision, why waste time and energy on them...

    October 15, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
  20. Scottsdale, AZ

    Not surprised with the outcome, similar experience in 1985 with Captain Testrake Flight 847 to Rome – being hijacked. The world recalls the gun being held to his head by the terrorists. Turned out beautiful by the same Power and familiar prayer as experienced with these dear miners. What then shall we say to all this, if God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31 God bless you men and your selfless President in Chile.

    October 15, 2010 at 2:30 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.