In 2010, a copper mine collapsed in northern Chile, trapping 33 men nearly half a mile underground.
I was a journalism major at the time, and staying on top of headlines was the name of the game. Iran was shopping for nuclear weapons, the buzz-word-du-jour was Wikileaks, and something called an ‘Arab Spring’ was brewing. It was also the summer Sandra Bullock could do no wrong and Tiger Woods was still in time-out. Did we know who Miley Cyrus was yet? I can’t remember.
At first it looked grim for the miner’s 33 families camped out above ground, but two weeks after the collapse the miners were located – all had survived. Suspense mounted as officials tried to figure out how to get them out of an underground house of cards.
A month into the vigil, one of the miner’s wives discovered she was pregnant. She sent a letter down to tell him. What he wrote back to his wife was so touching I saved it on a sticky note:
“Even in the deepest part of the earth, there shines light.”
That sticky note became somewhat of a fixture, one that I never really stop to read anymore. It just sort of faded into the background. But it caught me last week in a quiet moment from the corner of my eye. For the first time in a long time, I remembered the story of that man, the light in the darkness, and the 33 miners who were safely rescued after two months below ground.
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Last Wednesday, we saw more than 7,000 people on Screening Day. The line wrapped up the block and back again. Overall, the day was a success, but there were still thousands of people Mercy Ships could not treat. Thousands.
I visited with a woman named Elodie shortly after she learned that surgeons would operate on her 4-year-old son Emanuel, who has a tumor in his throat. She was exactly as relieved and joyful as you would expect. I smiled back at her, but my mind had wandered. Twenty feet to my right there was a steady flow of “no” patients being escorted toward the exit gate.
Saying “no” is one of the hardest things we have to do, but it’s a stark reality that goes hand in hand with saying “yes.”
I took a break after speaking with Elodie. The only empty bench outside faced the stream of people that, unlike her, had been told no. I sat and tried to focus on the apple I was eating, not the people walking past. Then something caught my attention.
There in the stream I was trying not to focus on was my friend John, carrying this boy in his arms.
There shines light.
Sometimes God shows us that there is light in the darkness, even when that darkness seems all encompassing. And the light seems too feeble to force it all away.
Sometimes God catches our eye with words we have forgotten, from a story from a far corner of the world. Sometimes he sends friends like John walking through our field of vision, carrying a sweet boy we can do nothing for but love. Sometimes God does both of these things at once to see if we will connect the dots.
As the field service begins, I’ll keep my eyes on the job we are here to do. I’m comforted knowing that should I glance right or left, I will see that, oh yeah, God is working over there too.
Which is where people like John fit in. John is our Finance Director, he spent all of Screening Day walking those who could not walk themselves out. His wife Tracey is in the US right now with their two girls. The day after screening, John received some special news:
Tracey is pregnant – and it’s a boy.
Even in the deepest part of the earth, there shines light.