For several suspenseful hours on October 13, 2010, the attention of the entire world lay centered on a solitary spot in the Chilean desert. It was there that 33 trapped miners emerged to fresh air and freedom and the eager embrace of jubilant family and friends, after having spent ten weeks entombed one-half mile underground. Their emergence brought an end to the greatest mine rescue of all time.
As told to writers Mario Veloso and Jeanette Windle, Hope Underground: The 34 Chilean Miners—A Story of Faith and Miracles (Imago Dei Books) records the personal journey and spiritual involvement of a local, unassuming minister with the miners and their families. In a series of circumstances that would change his life forever, Pastor Carlos Parra Diaz rose to prominence as he became the influential chaplain of Camp Hope—a makeshift tent community established not far from the site of the mine collapse.
Yet Hope Underground is clearly more than just Pastor Parra’s story. Rather, it is the story of all who came together at Camp Hope focused on asking God to do a mighty work on behalf of the miners and the overwhelming evidence of His response that followed. Told simply and from the heart, Pastor Parra describes not only his own involvement with the families at Camp Hope but also introduces the reader to those miners, family members and officials who extracted nuggets of hope from the situation and then used them to instill faith in others.
For most people, this spectacular rescue is already yesterday’s news. However, for the millions who prayed for a miracle, this event has become a spiritual heritage for the whole world, a stirring reminder that God listens to the pleas of His children.
Readers are introduced to women like Maria Segovia, the “mayor” of Camp Hope, whose quiet strength and steadfast faith daily encouraged others. We meet the miner whose wife gave birth to their first child during the ten-week ordeal—a daughter they named Esperanza (which means Hope). And no reader will soon forget the youngest miner who boldly insisted there were 34 in the mine instead of 33 because, as he explained, “God never abandoned us.”
Though on its own, the story of his involvement would provide fascinating reading, what Pastor Parra gives us in Hope Underground is so much more. With humility and reverence, he leads us through the story of Camp Hope to a new realization that God remains a never failing presence to everyone willing to call upon His name.