© 2014 Robert Osburn
I don’t know any miners, I’ve only visited one mine in my life, and mining has never been an interest “of mine.” Jesus, however, does care, and He wants to reach them for His Kingdom.
Flying back and forth over the southern half of Africa in early August 2014 I discovered that miners are, one might say, an unreached group. No, they’re not a people group in the classic sense of a tribe or ethnic population. But, they are people who share a similar, often-dangerous livelihood that forces them to be confined day in and day out with one another.
I learned firsthand about their isolation while on a flight from Kamembe to Kigali (Rwandan cities). I was seated next to a young Afrikaaner from South Africa who is responsible for feeding the 600 miners, security personnel, and company administrators who work at a completely isolated gold mining site 375 miles from Bukavu, and deep in the Congolese jungle. The only reliable transportation to and from the mine is by helicopter, though a transport plane does land once very two weeks with supplies. There is a muddy rutted road from somewhere, but it’s so bad that few can rely upon it.
The entire mine is surrounded by a fence, which is carefully guarded. Virtually all the miners live and work inside the fence 24 hours/day, seven days/week. When I asked what they have to do after work hours, he replied “Absolutely nothing.” There is internet, and every miner is supplied with a computer. The moral havoc is not hard to imagine, even if, as seems to be the case with this mine, prostitutes are strictly forbidden.
When I asked about anyone who cares for the spiritual needs of the miners, he said that absolutely no one serves that need. No pastor, no chaplain, no one for 600 people trapped by gold in the middle of the Congolese jungle. Earnestly, he said, “Please, if you can do something, it would really be good to have someone to come out to work with our community, as well as the tribal communities that exist on the border of our mine.”
I wonder who will catch the vision for the hundreds of thousands of miners worldwide who need Christ and whose deep isolation offers a rare opportunity to minister at a point of felt need. My Google search uncovered one mission: The International Miners Mission. I hope that others will join them to reach out to these people who need Christ.