CHILEAN miner Jose Henriquez, who survived 69 days trapped underground, received a hero’s welcome in Solihull.
Some 1,500 people had packed into the Renewal Christian Centre, in Lode Lane, to hear the 55-year-old speak about his ordeal.
The main auditorium was totally full, with hundreds more people watching video-screens in the side-rooms.
Father-of-two Jose was among 33 men trapped 700 metres underground, following a cave-in at the San Jose mine.
Joined on stage by his wife Blanca, he explained how faith helped to keep the community together over the ten weeks.
“When this happened some of the group started writing their last will and testaments, as if they’d never see the light of day again.
“I said ‘don’t do that, it sends a bad example to the young men here - we can’t discourage them’.”
Jose told a rapt audience how the miners had united, forming a “democratic group” to make decisions.
“We realised that we would have to pull together as a community if we were going to survive,” he added.
After 17 days, a drill reached the trapped miners, but it was many more weeks before the group were rescued.
Since the experience, the drill operatormsaid that the men had been closer to their families and many had discovered religion.
Revd Peter Jenkins, from the church, said that the story had captured the imagination of people across the world.
“I think this is a story of people finding hope when things seem to be hopeless,” he said.
Jose has also visited Oxford, Durham and Sheffield during his UK tour, organised by the Church Mission Society.