More than a week ago, 16 small scale miners crept inside an abandoned mine of the Antamok gold field in Benguet, scrounging for “paltek” or left-over gold veins inside a labyrinth of tunnels. But floodwaters due to typhoon “Nina” (International codename: “Hagupit”) rushed through the shafts and immediately flooded the tunnels. It became a death trap. The miners at that time were working 700 feet underground. When they noticed the fast-rising muddy waters, they immediately scrambled towards higher shafts and ledges. But they did not make it to the surface. Six miners drowned. One of them even tied himself to a rope to keep the rushing water from sweeping him away. But he still perished. Ten survived to share their story. To survive, they drank the dripping water from the roof of the tunnel. When they could no longer bear the hunger pangs, they started eating strips of their clothing. They kept their hopes buoyed up by swapping stories and jokes with each other. That kept them sane, even after the lights on their miner’s hats gave out. One of the survivors said, “We were on the verge of crying but we had to entertain ourselves. If we live, we live. If we die, we die.” (Source: http://inquirer.net/) A hundred rescuers from the Philippine National Red Cross, the Philippine Navy, and the local police raced against time to save these miners. Another typhoon almost hampered the rescue. Yet, they bravely waded through the murky waters to look for the miners. One hundred risked their lives to rescue sixteen. Even if they saved only one life, those heroic rescuers would still have rejoiced. And even if they did not save anyone, they knew they can’t be accused of not trying at all. They gave their best and their efforts got rewarded.
We are also part of a search and rescue operation. Our Lord Jesus declared that “there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:7, NIV) That’s how precious a soul is in the eyes of God. And even if we shared the Gospel and not even one accepted our message, we did not fail the mission. For no one can accuse us of not even trying. Thus, we are to give it our best shot. We are commanded, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” (Mk 16:15)
Brethren, let us join the rescue.