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Dear Partner,

Did you hear about the rescue of the coal miners last month? Nine coal miners in Pennsylvania were working underground according to the survey maps that had been provided to them. They had no way of knowing the maps were wrong. Suddenly, without warning, they accidentally blasted through the wall of an adjacent mine that had been abandoned for many decades. The old mine was filled with water and millions of gallons began pouring through the opening into the mine where the miners were working.

These men were heroes because they immediately used their underground telephone system to warn another team of miners who were also working in the same mine. That group of miners managed to exit the mine to safety, but the group who had sent the warning were trapped. Think of the dilemma they were in. The rapidly rising flood of water made it impossible for them to reach the exit. There was two hundred and forty feet of solid rock above them. There was no way out. There was nothing they could do to save themselves. All they could do was huddle themselves together in a relatively small area where an air pocket had formed. Can you imagine the darkness? Can you imagine the hopelessness?

These men had no way of knowing about the activity above ground that began as soon as the report of what had happened sounded in the community. Immediately the distress call went throughout the land. Men and equipment began arriving on the scene to do everything possible to rescue the trapped miners. Giant drilling rigs were brought in and the first one immediately began boring down through the rock to create a shaft that would deliver air to the trapped miners. Other rigs were brought in to begin drilling shafts large enough through which the men could be rescued that is if they were still alive.

The amazing thing about this is, until the first shaft was drilled into the air pocket of the mine, nobody knew if the miners trapped below were already dead or not. Also, the miners trapped under all those tons of rock had no way of knowing if anybody on the surface was working to rescue them. Just in case even one of the miners could be brought out alive, no amount of money and no amount of effort was deemed "too much." I heard the report on CNN that more than five million dollars worth of equipment, and more than two hundred men, were quickly on the scene to rescue the miners. Not to mention the many volunteers of other men and women who freely gave of their time and resources to feed and care for the rescuers.

For more than 77 hours, the miners were trapped in a desperate situation where they were utterly dependent upon the love of others to rescue them. None of the rescuers were thinking about their paycheck for being involved in this operation. None of them were toiling those long hours with the idea of receiving some kind of financial "reward" for their efforts. No, all of this was being done "for love's sake alone." For more than 77 hours the rescuers toiled without any guarantee that any of the miners below could be brought out alive. And then, wonder of wonders, America rejoiced as each miner, one by one, was brought out alive. All of them! Not one was lost!

What a portrait of the gospel message this lays before us. Mankind is just as lost in darkness as those miners. There is nothing man can do to save himself. Without the intervention of God above, for "love's sake alone," mankind has no hope of being saved. The message of the gospel is that God loved us so much that He sent His Son from above to come down to where we are in order to provide the way of escape for us. Jesus came to suffer and die on the cross in order to provide the way of salvation all mankind. Just like the miners trapped in the darkness of the flooded mine, no amount of self-effort could save them, and no amount of "good works" can save mankind. There is nothing man can do to save himself. Only the love of an almighty God, and the willingness of His Son to suffer and die for us, could save mankind from the darkness wherein we were all trapped.

As Christians, this is what our lives are about the rescue of mankind from spiritual death. No matter our individual assignment in the body of Christ is, the end result of all that we do is about saving mankind from certain, eternal death. And what about our finances? What is our first priority when it comes to being good stewards of money while we live on this earth? Think about this. Not everybody involved in this rescue operation was on the front line. Not everybody was running a drilling rig or physically handling the drill bits and pipes to line the shafts. Somebody had to pay for sending those drilling rigs. Somebody had to pay for the fuel to run them. Somebody had to spend money to provide the meals that sustained the rescue team while the operation was being carried out.

It is the same in the gospel. Mankind cannot escape spiritual darkness without hearing the message of the gospel. Some are called to "go and preach." Some are called to "send" them by providing the finances. Notice these verses:

Rom 10:13-15a  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And HOW SHALL THEY HEAR WITHOUT A PREACHER? AND HOW SHALL THEY PREACH, EXCEPT THEY BE SENT?

When we give into the work of spreading the gospel, our hearts should always have the same attitude of those who so freely gave of their time and resources to rescue the miners from certain death. Let us not be "reward" minded. Let us not be thinking of "what's in it for us." But rather, let our hearts be motivated by "love alone" to save a lost and dying world by SENDING the way of escape for them the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Sue and I love you and appreciate you. We thank God for your generous and giving heart. God bless you!

Your friend and co-laborer,

Gary Carpenter


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