Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Overwhelmed by hope

Yesterday I heard a remarkable story. Well, I'd heard it before, as have most of the world of course. But it's different when you meet the man himself, isn't it? When he tells his story. And when he shakes your hand and blesses you.
José Henriquez

Alfredo Cooper with José on the far right, Bishop Henry Scriven behind 
Last night, in St John the Baptist Church, Grove, one of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped and rescued last year, José Henriquez and his wife Blanca, interpreted by Alf Cooper (evangelical chaplain to the President of Chile), told the story of the explosion, how the miners survived and how they were rescued. Here's the moment when José and Blanca were reunited: The rescue on TV. It was incredibly moving to have the two of them there, in front of us, very  much alive and saying, "Don't give up hope and don't give up praying." I particularly remember Blanca describing how she and her daughter first heard of the accident. At first, the radio gave the name of the wrong mine, and she thought, "Well, that's not where José's working." But later it was corrected and they realised it was Copiapó. Instead of staying glued to the radio, they turned it off and knelt down and prayed. And continued for the duration - as did the miners in their underground tomb, twice a day, for 69 days, all together.

José and Alf were interviewed on Radio 4's Sunday programme, which gives some idea of a little of what we heard (26 minutes, 10 seconds in):
Radio interview with José . Last night he was quite undemonstrative and struck me as someone who was very much at peace. He was utterly sure that the miners' rescue had been a miracle, as the exploratory drill which eventually found them hit a rock and was diverted into the chamber where they were.

His over-all message was that God is alive and real, that He hears and answers prayer, and that He is loving and good - which means His answers will be for our good. At the end he and Alf Cooper prayed for the whole audience. It was a privileged evening, I must say. Next week, the two of them are speakers at President Obama's presidential prayer breakfast in Washington! For all that and all the media attention, he struck me as a genuinely humble guy who simply wants to share the goodness of God
José and Alf praying for their audience


  1. He looks such a big man for such a tiny capsule.

  2. Indeed! In fact he joked about it in his interview on Radio 4. I think he lost 10 kilos in the mine and has put on 20 since!

  3. Where would we be without a sense of humour and the love of God. Coincidentally I am going into Sheffield this evening to hear, in all likelihood, the same man speaking. It's wonderful how you sometimes feel that God is answering prayer and guiding you in certain directions, presenting fresh challenges and giving you new experiences of life.