Saturday, October 23, 2010

Good news for a change.

News is usually the unusual and bad. It is man bites dog, not dog bites man and certainly not man is dog's best friend. But this week we have had our news dominated by a good news story. 33 miners trapped half a mile from the surface in a Chilean copper mine had at first been given up for dead. After 69 days we saw them brought to the surface one by one. I will not forget the emotion shown in the faces of waiting relatives. But it was a pleasant surprise seeing newly freed men first kneeling to give thanks to God for their rescue.

As miners were being pulled from Chile's San Jose mine last Wednesday, most were wearing tan T-shirts over their overalls. The Chilean government told reporters the green overalls were designed to help absorb the sweat as they ascended to the top. But why the miners were wearing a T-shirt over their overalls and with a logo on the T-shirt's left sleeve, 'Jesus'?

This 'Jesus' was the logo from the film of the life of Jesus. Campus Crusade for Christ International was able to send an MP3 audio version of the Jesus film and an MP3 audio version of the New Testament in Spanish down the mine. The Jesus film explains that the New Testament tells how Jesus is laid in a cave tomb after his crucifixion. Three days later, Jesus rose 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 not clear if the miners saw the resurrection story as a parallel for their hoped-for rescue, but miner Jose Henriquez passed along a letter from inside the mine.

'Thank you for this tremendous blessing for my co-workers and me. 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.'

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 for special T-shirts. The T-shirts were a gift from Campus Crusade for Christ Chile. In the front you can read, 'Gracias Senor' – 'Thank you Lord.’ and on the back, Psalm 95:4.

When the mine collapsed, three of the miners -- including Henríquez -- were active Christians. Since then, two more of them have made professions of faith. The wife of one of the miners who became a Christian since being trapped in the mine has also accepted Christ.

I first read about the T-shirts on Facebook early Friday morning. The story quickly went viral there and I was left wondering why it had nor been picked up in main stream media coverage, There had been 24 hour news coverage on TV but I had heard nothing. I am told that Sky News had referred to the shirts but I had not seen it while I watched their coverage. BBC Radio 5 had covered it but in the early morning hours. Since then I have heard news of discord down the mine and above ground arguments between wives and mistresses. Back to the usual bad news.

What we get in news coverage is what the journalists think we want to watch, hear or read. This is not 'whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable'. Scandal and gossip are all too often what we prefer. The mind set too is secular. Try looking for the faith or religion section on major internet news sites and you will be hard pressed to find much at all. Western news is secular and very selective. In Britain we are not as insular as the news coverage in the USA but African news can be hard to find. The Mumbai killings were all over our news but many more were killed in the Jos riots around the same time and coverage was minimal. One murder in the UK may make the headlines while hundreds killed in Africa are ignored.

Journalists will tell you they try to be fair and objective. You should remember they are there to give you what they think you want.

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