Taking our Cue from Quecreek

quecreek rescue

On July 24, 2002, eighteen coal miners went down into the Quecreek Mine in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. At about 9:00 p.m. their four-foot drilling bore burst into an abandoned mine shaft above the Quecreek Mine. Abandoned 50 years earlier, it was filled with an estimated 50 million gallons of water. As the drill broke through, it blasted the miners and their equipment back, quickly flooding the tunnel and blocking escape. Sounding the alarm, the other nine minors working in another tunnel made it to an escape vent, but the Quecreek Nine were trapped 240 feet below surface with no way out.

Somehow, with water pouring in and their escape route blocked, the miners eventually groped their way through the darkness to the highest pocket they could reach. The air pressure in the pocket where they huddled held back the rising water though within hours it was spilling out the mine entrance 240 feet above. At that mine opening, workers assembled, frantically trying to pull off a miraculous rescue. Down below, in the dim light of their helmets, the nine doomed miners did three things as they waited for the water to reach them. They prayed. They scribble notes to their families on a note pad one of the men had in his lunch box. And then they did something I find extraordinary – they roped themselves together. They agreed that they would either all make it out alive through rescue, or they would all die as a band of brothers in their watery grave.

I lived 100 miles to the east at the time, and was transfixed on the news reports of rescue efforts. GPS was used to estimate the miners location. They shipped in a special drill to bore a 6” air shaft. With unexplained precision, that drill broke through just yards from the huddled miners. Immediately, they injected high pressure air into the cavity to hold back the water that was licking at them in the air pocket. Encouraged by the tapping they heard on the 6” pipe, round-the-clock workers manned a second drill, this time boring a 30” hole — large enough for a capsule to be lowered to bring up the miners or their remains.

I lived 100 miles to the east at the time, and was transfixed on the news reports of rescue efforts. GPS was used to estimate the miners location. They shipped in a special drill to bore a 6” air shaft. With unexplained precision, that drill broke through just yards from the huddled miners. Immediately, they injected high pressure air into the cavity to hold back the water that was licking at them in the air pocket. Encouraged by the tapping they heard on the 6” pipe, round-the-clock workers manned a second drill, this time boring a 30” hole — large enough for a capsule to be lowered to bring up the miners or their remains.

The Quecreek Nine huddle there in the darkness, roped together, for nearly four days.

At about midnight on July 28, the 30” bit punched through the rock to the Quecreek Nine. The most vulnerable miner came up first in the special yellow capsule. By 2:45 a.m., all 9 miners were safe on the surface. Go to Wikipedia and read the whole story. It is no overstatement this event was dubbed, “The Miracle of Quecreek.”

Rope ourselves together

It’s been almost 20 years since Quecreek, and just writing about this today makes me cry. The Quecreek story is our story, not just during COVID-19, but always. We need to be rescued from above. And one day, like all the Quecreek Nine, all those saved by the blood of Jesus will be. While we are down here in this life on this earth, we desperately need to do what the miners did – rope ourselves together! We are designed to be connected so that we suffer together and rejoice together. We were made to work and wait together in trust and hope. We share the heart of Jesus to make the most vulnerable our priority, and to be grateful for and hold in honor those who feverishly labor to serve and even save us.

With the Shelter-in-place Order in effect, we won’t be seeing you at church services this Sunday. But if we were, I would be tempted to have our Welcome Team members hand each one of you a small piece of rope as you entered as a reminder of this vibrant truth. Maybe you should find a piece of rope in your home. Hang it on your fridge or use it for a page marker in your Bible as a reminder that you are among a band of brothers and sisters and rescue is assured.

What do you think? Let's start up a dialog by commenting below.

4 thoughts on “Taking our Cue from Quecreek”

  1. God’s amazing plan, peace and grace is evident so abundantly during the crisis and rescue. The miners were prepared to die as a group which one would guess had spiritual components like prayer, praise, supplication & faith in Him.

    1. Tim, I agree that crisis brings out something amazing in how God’s people experience grace, peace, and growth. On the other hand, “Affluenza” is the worst spiritual virus. We forget how we need God and each other.

  2. We as members of Calvary can make a virtual rope of internet and phone connections. If each Calvary unit was connecting virtually to a different different Calvary unit we could have a virtual rope connection the full family. It might be some units are connecting to more than one so that all the non-tech elderly and singles are reached out by at least one other unit but it would be better if they had more than one. Considering where everyone lives we would have a virtual net covering Rochester. Like the miners, we are all in this together so let us help do the one anothers of encouragement and prayer while we are physically apart but virtually together. We can thank God that the virtual structure was already in place before we had to experience being apart.

    1. Insightful Ann. You sound like Solomon: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” (Eccl. 4:12)

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