On October 14, 1987, an eighteen-month-old girl was playing in her aunt’s yard at her home in Midland, Texas. It was an uneventful day until the unthinkable happened. The toddler wandered to a section of the yard, overgrown with brush and weeds, where a deep abandoned (and forgotten) well waited. When she discovered the opening, she looked down, lost her balance, and fell into the depths of the well. She plunged twenty feet and became stuck in a narrow pipe that had originally pumped water to the surface.
A family member saw the little girl disappear beneath the ground and ran to investigate. That was when the girl who would become known as “Baby Jessica” launched one of the most dramatic rescues in American history.
In minutes emergency crews were on site and the story exploded into the national consciousness. Television news teams gave hourly updates and soon the story became an international sensation. Churches organized 24-hour prayer vigils. The world waited to see what would happen.
The pipe holding the child was encased in rock and sediment that resisted all efforts to break through. A professional oil drilling team arrived and drilled a hole next to the well. Soon, however, the team hit super-hard caliche rock that broke every drilling bit. Progress moved in inches as millions prayed. The drilling was so slow that soon 40 hours passed with no rescue.
People volunteered from across America to come to Midland to help, at their own expense. Local drilling companies donated dozens of drill bits, each one worth thousands of dollars, to continue the desperate operation. When one bit broke, another would be donated to replace it. Multiple mining engineers flew in to offer their services. People continued to pray.
Finally, after 45 hours of effort, underground rescue teams heard a faint, childish voice singing the theme song from “Winnie the Pooh”, and knew they were close. Then, after 56 hours trapped in the well, a paramedic was able to inch forward enough to reach Baby Jessica and carefully pull her free. He passed her to a waiting paramedic who carried her to the surface. When the news of her rescue was released, prayer groups thanked God and thousands celebrated. One celebration was so large it filled a football stadium. Today Jessica is married with two children. She lives two miles from her aunt’s original house.
The surge of love and concern for Jessica is a reminder that EVERYONE MATTERS. Each individual is created by a loving God for a purpose. Always choose to see the value in everyone. The next time you are tempted to be rude and disrespectful to another person, remember that he or she matters to God and should matter to you.
Jesus said in John 13:35,
By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.