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. SL Hudson

    Praise the Lord as HE roams all over the earth finding those to receive HIM as Lord and Savior. We show the Jesus Film in East Africa and many are impacted and make decisons for Jesus!

    October 19, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
  2. Celestial2920

    I'm going to look at this a different way... hope supposedly comes from prayer. Yet, hope is virtually useless unless will power is with it. Hope also can neutralize fear and calm down avarice, and put out the fires of rage. But once again, it can only do that when will power is used with it.

    So putting this in a simpler way... you can pray and pray and pray and pray until the sun goes dark, the universe collapses in to a singularity, and everything comes to an end your prayer will never be answered.

    BUT.... if you get off your ass and DO SOMETHING about it... IE: The rescue workers in Chile, who were glowing blue and green (Hope and Willpower), who got their best minds together, with some of the best equipment in the world and worked their ASSES off drilling down to those men, getting them food, water and supplies to help them hold on, and finally (YAY!) get them out... this just goes to show you that there was no invisible sky daddy, no dead dude names Jevus helping them (where was this guy by the way... never saw him in any photos, drilling or helping men with the equipment), but this dead zombie dude gets all the FRACKING CREDIT!!!!!

    And where the hell was he anyway??? Oh wait... he's in heaven or some parallel universe sending down magic rays making people do all these things.

    C'MON PEOPLE!!! Grow the heck up, get your head out of fantasyland and wake up. If you don't get off your butts and do something... nothing will happen... and as sure as the sun fuses hydrogen into helium no invisible sky-daddy and his zombie son ain't gonna do it for you.

    And as a final point... read your bible from cover to cover... not just the parts you like... it might turn you into an atheist too!

    October 18, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  3. FinalWord

    ... ok I am going to put this debate to rest. I know it has been raging on for what ...ever? but i was busy doing other things. so ok, I don't mean to keep you all waiting any longer. HA! I'm sure i got a few of you. but here's my opinion. I sure hope God is enjoying the controversy. I know I do. some of it does get pretty tiresome though.

    by the way. if you don't believe one unproveable thing, you believe another. deal with it.

    October 18, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
    • Samnot

      as an agnostic I point out that you are obviously wrong – understandable considering you are a believer. HA

      October 20, 2010 at 6:27 am |
  4. Ken

    There was a much more detailed report about the T-shirts on The Christian Post. This account by CNN was lacking tremendously – disappointingly but not surprisingly.

    October 18, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
  5. Doc Vestibule

    All good comes from God – the omnipotent, omnipresent, omnibenevolent creator of the universe.
    But if all evil comes from Satan, then God is not omnipotent.
    If Satan isn't at play, then God is not omnibenevolent.
    Did shared religious faith help keep these men sane during their ordeal? Of that I have no doubt. Demographically, the country is 70% Catholic specifically and almost 90% Christian, thus giving these miners some very solid common ground on which to build consensus during their captivity. Had they been geologists instead of miners, they probably would have all discussed rock formation instead of scripture and catalogued sedimentary rock strata instead of praying. What was most important to their sanity and therefore survival was finding points on which to agree and foster community in the face of adversity.
    But the REAL work in saving these folk was not the result of prayer or divine intervention – it was human ingenuity!
    The engineers to designed the escape shaft and implemented the elevator system deserve our praise and admiration – not any deity.
    Their T-Shirts could just have well been advertising Marlboro, Apple or Budweiser since the cigarettes, Ipods and beer they were given down there probably had more to do with defusing tensions than the prayer sessions.

    October 18, 2010 at 1:22 pm |
  6. NoSacredCow

    So why didn't Jeebus prevent the disaster in the first place. Oh right mysterious ways...

    Anyone want to take a bet that the miners were offered money by the jeebus film project for wearing the shirts?

    It will come out eventually. It always does.

    October 18, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
  7. Tim

    There is a lot of OCCULT SYMBOLISM in this whole story of Miners Rescue.
    The number of people (33), the number of days (69 = 23 x3), the dates of the events 13/10 /10 (13+10+10=33), the time of the event (12:11 am = 12+11 = 33), the name of the recovery module used – FENIX (Phoenix) etc., all have heavy occult symbolism or connotations attached to it. In fact, it more looks like the enactment of an occult ritual of Phoenix rising out of the ashes/pits as these miners rise out of the pit. The media was replete with phrases such as:
    Does that ring any bell?

    I would direct you as well to "www.vigilentcitizen.com" to see in detail some of these symbolisms of a ritual explained. And to those Christian friends who might have bought into the supposedly 'Christian' act of CCCI, watch the symbol on the T-shirt; it's an inverted pentagram and "Thank You Lord" written on it. I wonder which Lord it was. So I direct you Christians to take a little time and see what some Bible believing Christians have to say about this Occult ritual.
    See the following link of Pastor Mike Hoggard:

    October 18, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
  8. Bobby

    @Muneef..Do you believe that one day all on this earth will either be a Muslim or the slave of one? That Muslims are to either convert non Muslims and if they refuse they should either be enslaved or killed?? Just curious.

    October 18, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  9. Bobby

    @Muneef. ..Do you think that Muslims are destine to take over the world by conversion of non-believers via preaching and if they do not convert they should either be enslaved or killed?

    October 18, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  10. sarah13

    Does anyone realize that whilst Jesus was busy with the miners~~ 1.2 MILLION children around the world died from hunger?
    Where's the fish and loaf for those who look for it on a daily basis?

    October 18, 2010 at 9:07 am |
  11. Michael Simons

    How bout we praise the rescue workers for getting the miners out and not some imaginary, made up concept. And if god existed, does he not like Chinese miners?

    October 18, 2010 at 8:54 am |
  12. Doug504

    This is another example of a waste of time and effort.

    All 33 miners had already requested and received individual Bibles. The miners were holding prayer services twice a day. They were quoting Psalms.

    So of course, the Jesus Film Project had to make special t-shirts that quoted the miners quoting Psalms and BTW included an ad for the Jesus Film Project. Of course the ad and related press release were simply to bring comfort to the miners.

    "By your acts so shall ye be known".

    October 18, 2010 at 5:30 am |
  13. James

    I would have worn a NASA shirt to thank the NASA engineers too.

    October 17, 2010 at 10:38 pm |
  14. James

    God bless anyone who points out that God saved the miners.

    October 17, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
  15. Gloria

    Gracias por sus oraciones y su gran apreció a mi país, a su gente minera. Vemos un milagro en nuestras vidas. "Gracias Señor"

    October 17, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
  16. RSSPoland'68

    Friends; Remember, God has His plan, and His plan is perfect.
    I would love to have one of the T shirts that the miners had.
    Where can I get one?

    October 16, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  17. RSSPoland'68

    "The Lord works in mysterious ways."
    I would be proud to wear that T shirt.
    Where can I get one?

    October 16, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
  18. Frank

    Early news reports said there were 34 miners. So what happened? Did they just the count wrong or did they eat him?

    October 16, 2010 at 9:06 pm |
    • Frank


      October 16, 2010 at 9:08 pm |
  19. evelyn warner


    How very much I have enjoyed all your comments today! Thank you!

    October 16, 2010 at 7:46 pm |
  20. BGV

    Whether or not you believe that Jesus is the son of God and that he died so that you can have eternal life.....whether you believe or not does not change the FACT! He is. Soon enough you will know and I pray that it will not be too late for you.

    October 16, 2010 at 7:34 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.