The arrival of miniature Bibles to 33 Chilean miners trapped some 2,300 feet underground is bolstering their hope of rescue.
"Give thanks to those who sent us the Bibles," a miner identified as Renan told a Brazilian weekly newsmagazine last week. The Bibles "gave me so much faith that I will leave here," Renan said.
Seventh-day Adventist officials in Chile say the Bibles they provided the miners are supplying spiritual light as the group awaits rescue. Local media outlets have labeled the miners' survival so far a miracle, and their reports have highlighted the church's initiative.
The miners -- who have been trapped since the August 5 collapse of a tunnel at the San Jose mine in Chile's Atacama desert -- rationed what would have been two days' worth of food to stretch until they were discovered some 17 days later. Now, they await rescue, which mining experts say could take up to four months.
The Associated Press on August 31 reported that preliminary drilling has begun to liberate the miners. While they wait, food, water, medical supplies -- and now, miniature Bibles -- are arriving through a supply shaft.
Carlos Parra Diaz, an Adventist pastor who oversees the northern Chilean district of Copiapo, secured approval from Laurence Golborne, the country's mining minister, to send Bibles to the trapped miners. Each volume is approximately three by five inches to fit into the device that is transporting supplies to the miners. Each Bible was personalized with a miner's name and included specific scriptures to encourage them.
"We have always been available to help our brothers who are suffering both outside and inside of the mine," Parra said. "Now we have prepared ... these mini Bibles so the miners, in their confinement, can read the Word of God."
A magnifying glass accompanied each of the mini Bibles to make reading easier, the Brazilian newsmagazine reported. Each Bible is labeled with the words, "We are praying for your return." The magazine also said that Psalms 40 is highlighted in each Bible. The passage reads, in part, "I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit ... and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps."
The church also gave a copy of the Bible to the ministers of health and mining, as well as to each of the families at the rescue site. Parra is acting as the camp's chaplain, local Adventist leaders said.
"If God has kept them alive, he will continue taking care of them," Parra told the Brazilian newsmagazine. "Before, the prayer was for our [countrymen] to be alive. Now, we pray that the final rescue [will] be long before they expect it to be. We are asking for another miracle," he said.
As a result of the Bible distribution, the church has established a presence in the mine area and is now a "spiritual reference" for the camp, local Adventist officials said.