God answers prayer. That is the message from the President of Chile’s Protestant chaplain, in a remarkably candid interview to the BBC about the rescue of 33 miners in Chile.
Speaking about the spiritual impact to the miners trapped deep underground in a Chilean desert Reverend Alfredo Cooper described how all the miners testified that Jesus was there with them at all times.
Speaking to BBC Radio Five Live Revd Cooper said that it was clear to “scientists, politicians, presidents” that God answers prayer.
Listen to Revd Cooper on BBC Radio Five Live Drive, with interviewer Peter Allen
Below is the transcript of the interview:
Peter Allen: “Actually there was one gentleman I got a chance to talk to a little bit earlier. He’s the Reverend Alfredo Cooper. I’ll be absolutely honest with you, we heard an English voice down the line and in fact this gentleman apparently had turned up to thank the British press for what they’d done on this whole event and when they heard his English voice they got him in front of the microphone. He’s called the Reverend Alfredo Cooper. He’s actually chaplain to the country’s president and he told me when he first became involved in the aftermath of the mine’s collapse.”
Revd Cooper: “I am a chaplain in the presidential palace and so we had to quickly put together an emergency prayer meeting and it was with all our hearts because to imagine these 33 men a kilometre under the earth not knowing whether they were alive or what was going through their minds. 17 days we prayed and then the miracle came when the boring machine glanced off a rock and hit them – hit the cavern they were in – and of course we just erupted in praise. The second service the president called for was a praise meeting so we had a thanksgiving service and then of course we’ve had constant prayer. And this has been one of the interesting factors for folk like us to notice. Many of the miners went down as atheists or unbelievers or semi-believers and they have come up to a man testifying that they were not 33 but that there were 34 down there – that Jesus was there with them and that they had a constant sense of his presence and guidance.”
Peter Allen: “If you truly believe that it was divine intervention which rescued them then presumably you also believe that it was divine intervention which left them down there in the first place. I mean it doesn’t always make sense this kind of argument does it?”
Revd Cooper: “Well the thing is that in this fallen world this is exactly what does occur. Man is subject to accident and all sorts of problems thanks often to his wilful negligence as was the case in this mine. There are consequences when you don’t care enough for people. And of course in those situations we might compare Jonah in the whale – you know people tend to cry out to God and this is what’s happened. And God has answered.”
Peter Allen: “So you believe God listened to your prayers? God listened to your prayers – God listened to their prayers. You believe they were rescued by divine intervention really?”
Revd Cooper: “Well we of course see the hand of all these magnificent experts all around, and the good will of so many people internationally, the brilliant coverage of the press and we would suggest that all this works together for good, that certainly as we pray God has guided in remarkable ways – even the scientists. I was with the NASA people who came the other day. And to my surprise – to a man they were believing scientists in their case – and they all said: ‘This is a miracle. There is no other word for what happened here’.”
Peter Allen: “Okay”
Revd Cooper: “So I mean – Scientists, politicians, presidents – we’ve all come together in one happy moment saying, ‘Goodness! God is there and he answers prayer.’ That’s how we feel. And certainly the miners are testifying to the world of this – not just about that but certainly it seems to be a central factor.”
Peter Allen: “That’s the religious perspective from the Reverend Alfredo Cooper. It’s 5.15pm.”