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Prayers cited in PA miracle


"It just goes without saying that everyone's joyful that they got all nine miners out alive."

Just hours after all nine miners were rescued from a collapsed mine in Somerset County, local church-goers thanked God for what they called a miracle .

Just a few miles down the road from where the men spent about 77 hours under the earth, members of the Sipesville Church of the Brethren spent part of their service talking about God's hand in the rescue effort.

"It just goes without saying that everyone's joyful that they got all nine miners out alive," one woman said.

Amid the soft shutter of lenses from local media, those at the service bowed their heads.

"The saving of those miners is definitely a miracle of God," said Fred Slagle who sang the hymn 'Great is Thy Faithfulness' to the congregation. "His timing is perfect -- with the drill breaking and everything."

Slagle may have been right. A drill that broke early Friday morning hampered rescuer's efforts.

"Had we not run into that drill bit problem, we would have gone down there, hit the ceiling and run into the water," said Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker at a Sunday press conference. "And then God knows what would have happened."

Special speaker Charles Statler also considered the rescue a miracle.

"Those miners faced two possibilities," he said. "If they had died they would have been with Jesus, or, if they had lived, Jesus would be with them. That is an awesome thought."

This church remained caring, Statler said, in spite of the hardships they've suffered. A few months ago, they lost their pastor -- a close friend of Statler -- to a heart attack. Less than a year ago, a plane smashed into the ground Sept. 11 and three years ago two tornados blew through their town.

"On Sept. 11, when that plane fell from the sky just 10 miles from here I saw how your community rallied there," he said. "You provided food, lodging, prayers ... and those people from Flight 93 remembered you. You had given them all of your thoughts and prayers and now they're giving theirs to you."

Statler referred to an encouraging email the friends and family members of Flight 93 victims sent the families of the trapped mine workers during the ordeal.

"We don't know when we're going to be thrust in the limelight," Statler said. "But you've handled it quite well."

Church members joined their community in supporting the rescue effort by offering food, counseling and trying to meet any need that arose.

"These people do care," said Slagle, who was visiting his former church this weekend. Slagle moved to Detroit just four days before Flight 93 crashed several miles from the church. "We have all been praying for them; we have been down on our knees.

"I've been thinking of Daniel 5, how God holds your very next breath in His hand," he said. "He is so faithful in taking care of our needs."

Schweiker said the trapped miners spent much of their time submerged in water.

"(At times) they were literally gasping for air with their noses," he said at a Sunday press conference.

Harry "Blaine" Mayhugh, 31, said he didn't think he would see his wife and children again.

"Seeing the water gushing -- I mean it was four-foot high, just a steady stream coming down through the mine," he said at a Sunday press conference. "We tried to outrun it but everywhere we went we got trapped."

The men tied themselves together so none of them would float away.

They began to write notes to their loved ones and stored them in a lunch box for their families to find.

Mayhugh’s wife, Leslie, didn't give up hope -- even though her father was trapped in the mine as well.

"I'm sure they did a lot of praying," she said. "The whole country did, somebody must have. I just kept praying and I had good beliefs and I knew he was going to get through. I knew I couldn't lose my dad and my husband. I just knew it."

Mayhugh, who was the second miner pulled from the shaft, said God, his wife and his children helped him survive the ordeal.

"Everybody should just grab their loved ones, hug them, kiss them and pray to God," she said. "Tell Him thank you very much, that He has performed a miracle."

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