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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. Jan

    Jesus said that there will be "rain" on the just as well as the unjust. He also said that He would be with us and send the Holy Spirit to comfort us. I believe this with all of my heart. The Holy Spirit was with those men giving them a "peace that passes all understanding". How can we reason this out? We cannot. This life has it's good things and also difficult times. Jesus gives us His peace through it all. I experienced this when diagnosed with an incurable disease. There is no way to argue against this. God is love...He created each of us. He loves His creation. We are the ones who have rebelled against Him, not believing what He has said in the Bible. We have brought disease and calamity upon ourselves. Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive us and heal us and fill us with your Holy Spirit. This is the only way to have true peace.

    October 16, 2010 at 7:02 pm |
  2. Phil

    @KennyK

    Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6).

    You talk about "We Christians," but if you actually studied the Scriptures which should be central to your faith and to your life, you will notice that there is NO salvation outside of Christ.

    Adherents of the Jewish faith (Judaism) refuse to acknowledge that the Messiah they had awaited for so many centuries (an are still waiting for) had already come over 2,000 years ago. When God brought about a pivotal point in the history of the universe, they continued on straight with blinkers over their eyes.

    Adherents of Islam believe their roots are in the fathers of the Old Testament (Abraham, Izaac, Jacob etc.), but that the direction their faith had taken (driven by Mohammad) is the one true religion. The truth is that Islam has its roots in idolatry and in complete denial of the deity of Jesus (which is paramount to salvation).

    Jesus is the second Person of the Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit – not three Gods, but one), who left the glory of heaven to be born as the baby Jesus. He lived a normal life, grew up and became a man. At around the age of thirty his earthly ministry began – healing sick people and proclaiming the kingdom of God. The main reason of his coming to earth was to reconcile mankind with God... something that could only be accomplished by a sinless human paying for the transgression of mankind. Since "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), the only One who was qualified to pay for man's transgression was God Himself. Jesus, representing both God and man, was God's perfect, blemish-free and final sacrificial Lamb, enabling all who believe in Him to become reconciled to God, members of His household and heirs of His kingdom.

    October 16, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  3. Phillip Collins

    (Out of the depths have I called)

    So many days they were lost in the dark
    So many days, and only a spark
    Of hope to keep up the fight

    So many months, so many years, so much I fear
    How long will it be till rescue is near?
    And what shall I see in the Kingdom of Light?

    The effort of hundreds frees them from the mine they are in
    The Death of One saves me from the mine that is sin.

    October 16, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
    • Life after death

      Insightful poem...Thanks for sharing.

      October 18, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
  4. David Johnson

    Look my fundies who think they serve a god of miracles:

    October 16, 2010
    BEIJING (AP) — Rescuers are working to free 17 miners after an explosion at a coal mine in central China. Officals have confirmed 20 miners were killed, ...

    So, mostly miracles are a matter of random chance and coincidence.

    Maybe we should send some of those T-shirts to the survivors of the the men who perished.

    Your god sure does work in mysterious ways. Its almost as it there were no god. Yep, almost.

    October 16, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
  5. Jeanne

    Praise the LORD JESUS CHRIST... He is alive, He is risen from the grave ... I prayed for the miners often and thank God for their lives and their release. So happy for each of them and their families.. love the Chilean President for being there and caring... if only more leaders followed suit! May many come to faith in Christ via these men's testimony

    October 16, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
  6. Rocket

    Someone, just ask the miners.

    October 16, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
  7. Chrisstee

    Praise God for getting these miners out of there. I know that most of the people reading this story do not believe in God. I believe in God. You ask why He allows suffering. Two points–without suffering, we would not understand love. Also, if we completely understood the mind of God, what kind of God would He be? I don't want a God that is no better than I am. Even worse, I would not want to be God. That would mean that I am in charge of this world. I would be responsible for keeping those miners alive for 69 days.
    Just a word to the christians out there. May I be honest with y'all? Christ tells us to "Love one another." "Judge not, that ye be not judged." We do live in a free country, as many of you have pointed out. Those of us that choose not to believe in the existence of God or His plan for the world have the right and the freedom to live their lives that way. You are not going to convince them that you have a better life by believing in God with some of the biting comments I have read above. (Yes I read every comment up there). I am not trying to be condemming here, I just think that Jesus would not approve.

    October 16, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
  8. Tamyrah Noel

    I'm so glad those miners are safe and healthy.
    http://tamyrahnoel.wordpress.com

    October 16, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
  9. Pdf

    @reallymom123: https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/09/28/dont-know-much-about-religion-youre-not-alone-study-finds/

    October 16, 2010 at 11:38 am |
  10. Robert

    To ED_209
    John 1:1 In the beginning was the WORD (IDEA), and the WORD (IDEA) was with God, and the WORD (IDEA) was God.

    October 16, 2010 at 11:33 am |
  11. Laurie

    Why argue with a closed mind? Faith is faith. Sight is sight. The second you die you will know one way or the other. Either you meet God or you evaporate into nothing. I will see Christ. So why argue? Wait and see...

    October 16, 2010 at 11:09 am |
  12. sega

    @ the person who posted the we should have slaves, this is NOT what the message of Jesus was. The good news Jesus came to proclaim was of God's love of all creation. Please read Philmon, as Paul relates the truly good news is ;we are all children of God. Paul writes that Onesimus, who was a runaway slave should be treated as an equal to Paul. With our finite minds (apparently this excludes a few of the ones who have posted since they have an infinite mind and know everything there is to ever be known), we can never come close to understanding Aristotle's First Mover (for me that is God) I try not to use gender (my seminary requirement & personal belief since Jesus referred to God in feminine form also).

    Many have posted their belief in math and Evolution, (I use big E in evolution as it seems to be your religion) you really need to do the math yourself and figure out the mathematical impossibility of all the mutations required to turn you into an ape (opps man), and let me know your results.

    I don't have a job where I can play on the internet while I should be attending other things, so I probalbly won't get back to read any more coments.

    Feel free to make fun of me, my infinite soul will have the last laugh.
    For Christ's sake, we serve.

    October 16, 2010 at 10:55 am |
  13. Muneef

    It is only when mankind in danger he gets to think and remembers to beg God for another chance to correct his life but unfortunately when the ordeal is over they laugh upon them selves and forgets his vow and obligations.
    Now you all will deny having passed in such moments neither believe all those people who passed through such ordeals and came to tell their stories! Why well because many are deafened,blinded,seals on their stone like hearts.  

    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    And the example of those who disbelieve, is as that of him who shouts to those (flock of sheep) that hears nothing but calls and cries. (They are) deaf, dumb and blind. So they do not understand. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi). (171) O you who believe (in the Oneness of Allâh – Islâmic Monotheism)! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you[] with, and be grateful to Allâh, if it is indeed He Whom you worship. (172)
    Sura 171 to 172

    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    Those who reject Our Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) are deaf and dumb in darkness. Allâh sends astray whom He wills and He guides on the Straight Path whom He wills. (39) Say (O Muhammad SAW): "Tell me if Allâh's Torment comes upon you, or the Hour comes upon you, would you then call upon any one other than Allâh? (Reply) if you are truthful!" (40)
    Sura 06:39 to 40

    October 16, 2010 at 9:27 am |
  14. The Greatest Love

    Listen to your heart, does it beat? How did it start? Did man make your heart beat, did science make your heart beat, no it was your Creator. God does not force His ways on you, He is the true gentleman. Others may force their view of God on you but He does not come into your life saying, "Believe in me because I said so." He wants you to believe and trust in Him because He is love. Ultimate love. So you ask, "Why do bad things happen?" We live in a fallen world a world full of dark, ugly, disgusting sin. God doesn't make bad events happen, but he can make good come out of any tragedy, no matter how fierce. We only have to rely on Him and trust in His promises. The world is so complex, could that really happen randomly? There are patterns in life and science that man cannot tell why they happen. That's because God created the heavens and the earth. Are we to understand the very being of God? No, we're not Him. Can we understand love, absolutely. That is the one most awesome power we all have to share with one another, love. If we would embrace that, the world would truly be a different place. The greatest love ever shown was when Jesus died for your sins. There's nothing we can do this side of heaven to deserve God's love, but he gave it freely. Grace. He wants you to love Him, you are His child, no matter where you stand on this earth He loves you. You are complex, wonderfully made, intricate in every way, nothing else in the world could have planned you so perfectly. Trust God, believe in Jesus, love Him and the love you'll receive in return is the most amazing of all.

    October 16, 2010 at 1:55 am |
  15. P V Ariel

    Great Post. Thanks for sharing.
    Keep doing
    Philip
    http://bit.ly/b5QnQP

    October 16, 2010 at 1:29 am |
  16. Love

    Listen to your heart, does it beat? How did it start? Did man make your heart beat, did science make your heart beat, no it was your Creator. God does not force His ways on you, He is the true gentleman. Others may force their view of God on you but He does not come into your life saying, "Believe in me because I said so." He wants you to believe and trust in Him because He is love. Ultimate love. So you ask, "Why do bad things happen?" We live in a fallen world a world full of dark, ugly, disgusting sin. God doesn't make bad events happen, but he can make good come out of any tragedy, no matter how fierce. We only have to rely on Him and trust in His promises. The world is so complex, could that really happen randomly? There are patterns in life and science that man cannot tell why they happen. That's because God created the heavens and the earth. Are we to understand the very being of God? No, we're not Him. Can we understand love, absolutely. That is the one most awesome power we all have to share with one another, love. If we would embrace that, the world would truly be a different place. The greatest love ever shown was when Jesus died for your sins. There's nothing we can do this side of heaven to deserve God's love, but he gave it freely. Grace. He wants you to love Him, you are His child, no matter where you stand on this earth He loves you. You are complex, wonderfully made, intricate in every way, nothing else in the world could have planned you so perfectly. Trust God, believe in Jesus, love Him and the love you'll receive in return is the most amazing of all.

    October 16, 2010 at 1:28 am |
  17. methomas

    Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trust in the Lord shall be safe

    October 16, 2010 at 12:01 am |
  18. Pat .

    Talk about hell on Earth: stuck done a mine and being force-fed religious movies...

    October 15, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
  19. Brady

    Good job Campus Crusade! God is using them to do some awesome work for His Kingdom around the world.....and this is another example.

    October 15, 2010 at 11:07 pm |
  20. god follower

    Matthew 7:6
    “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. "

    October 15, 2010 at 9:53 pm |
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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.