Comfort and joy greeted 33 Chilean miners rescued more than two months after a tunnel collapse buried the workers nearly 2,300 feet underground. Rescuers spent weeks boring a narrow escape shaft and hauled the miners to the surface one by one on Oct. 13. The elated men emerged surprisingly healthy and happy, as tearful family members embraced them, and onlookers burst into the national anthem.
The oldest miner in the group, Mario Gomez, 63, dropped to his knees in grateful prayer: "I never lost faith that they would find us." Rescue workers had sent miniature Bibles to the men-along with food, water, and medical supplies-through a bore hole the size of a grapefruit. Miner Mario Sepulveda, 40, described a spiritual battle in the dark, humid cave the men inhabited for 70 days: "I was with God and I was with the devil. They fought and God won."
Il to Un
The stone-faced son of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il somberly watched a massive military parade marking 65 years of Communist rule, and faced the prospect of ruling the reclusive nation on his own: Kim Jong Il-the country's so-called "Dear Leader"-initiated a process in October that will eventually transfer power to his youngest son, Kim Jong Un.
Little is known about Jong Un-even his age is a mystery. (Media reports speculate he is 27.) But the young man will inherit toxic policies from his ailing father: An active nuclear weapons program, a possible routine for funneling weapons to Iran, and a habit of sparking hot conflict with neighbors.
In March, North Korea torpedoed a South Korean submarine, killing 48 sailors. In November, it fired artillery rounds at a South Korean island, killing two South Korean marines and two civilians.
But the nation's ruling party may be doing the most damage to its own people: Amnesty International reported a collapsed healthcare system. And a collapsed monetary system may be inducing the kind of famine that killed massive numbers in the 1990s. A North Korean Christian told Open Doors International that humanitarian conditions were plummeting: "It's downright chaos and utter panic."
U.S. forces may have left Iraq voluntarily, but Christians fled because they had no choice. On Oct. 31, attacks on a Baghdad church service left 58 dead and more than 70 wounded. The slaughter was the deadliest recorded against the nation's Christian minority since the U.S.-led invasion. Days later a string of bombings hit Christian homes in Baghdad. By mid-November the strikes against Christians, many claimed by an al-Qaeda-backed group, had spread to other cities. And with attackers boldly entering Christian homes to claim their victims, Iraq's dwindling Christian population braced for more exoduses. The Islamic State of Iraq, the al-Qaeda front group, declared that the "killing sword will not be lifted" and said Christians everywhere are "legitimate targets."
Lausanne Congress: Chinese and internet
The Lausanne Movement on World Evangelization, which launched its first congress over 30 years ago under the leadership of evangelist Billy Graham and theologian John Stott, held its third congress in Cape Town, South Africa-an appropriate venue to showcase the growth of Christianity in the "global south." Chinese authorities apparently weren't impressed: In the days leading up to the October event, they blocked all of the Chinese delegation-at over 220 the second largest-from attending.
That move ironically prompted worldwide attention on the event (and China's human-rights record), which sought to reaffirm the church's global commitment to discipleship and obedience to the gospel beyond evangelical media and other outlets. And by Day 3 of the week-long congress, it was obvious that China had retaliated: Without formally naming China, Lausanne leaders acknowledged that their internet system had been under continual cyberattack, threatening not only media coverage but a global link set up to broadcast congress sessions to more than 700 sites in 95 countries. Internet specialists said the system was bombarded with millions of hits coming from 66 locations in China. That's when two delegates to the congress from India stepped forward. Within hours, Vijay Kumar, an employee of Unisys in Bangalore, and his cousin Daniel Singh, a pastor with a doctorate in computational biology, had helped to resolve the problem.
Two foiled terror attempts showed the determination of enemies from without and within: In October, authorities discovered explosives on U.S.-bound cargo planes after Yemen-based terrorists mailed the bombs in packages. A month later, authorities arrested Mohamed Osman Mohamed, a Somali-born U.S. citizen who attempted to detonate explosives at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Ore. Undercover FBI agents spent months intercepting and dismantling his plan. Agents say Mohamed, 19, said he wanted to destroy "the enemy of Allah."
Indonesia's Mount Merapi volcano began erupting in October, spewing gas and ash that drove some 300,000 Indonesians from their homes and killed more than 300 people within a few weeks. Rescuers expected to find more bodies when villages buried in hot ash cooled enough to excavate.