Growing up I always heard the where were you when such and such happened stories. I never really understood because, being in my mid 30’s now, not much happened in my life of that significance. I did take an interest in some of those stories. Being born on Nov. 22 1973, I always had an interest in the assassination of President Kennedy which happened 10 years earlier. While I really immersed myself in that, I never really understood the impact an event like that can have in ones life. That all changed with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11th.
At this point in time, I was not yet a Christian. But God was already working on my heart at this time. I was attending a Christian church, but did not understand having a personal relationship with God. Just prior to Sept. 11th, I attended a Christian concert by Ray Boltz. During the invitation, God was really convicting me that I needed to go forward. At that point in time I did not understand what was happening to me. I refused to go forward and suddenly in this very cold room, I broke out in a sweat and became dizzy. I eventually passed out in my seat. As soon as I left the building, the feeling left me. I would not understand until years later what was happening to me.
With that being said, I was at work when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. My friend informed me when it first happened, then the second plane hit. At this point, I found an AM news radio station that had constant coverage. After a few minutes, I turned around and people were gathered behind me. I then begin to realize this was my remember where you were story. I was at first greatly saddened, but it quickly turned to anger. I wanted to join the military and get revenge. My ex-wife was not on board with that idea, so it did not happen. I became almost obsessed with the event. I watched the news coverage every hour that I was not at work. I wanted to help in some way, but I didn’t know how. So, I became more angry with the situation.
Shortly after 9/11 my cousin got married in Pennsylvania. We went early and stopped in New York City for several days. We decided to go to ground zero and the experience changed my life. It was a long walk to get there and you could not tell anything had happened. Then we got within 2 blocks of the site, and that all changed. For the first time in my life I felt the presence of evil. We felt this darkness, this change in the atmosphere before we even knew we were getting close. Then we were there and my legs went weak. First I saw the makeshift memorials on the fences. Then we went out onto the viewing platform and saw the rubble below. You could smell death in the air. As I snapped out of my tunnel vision, there was a woman crying beside me who still did not know the fate of her loved one. She came here to cry and pray everyday. I was overcome with emotion, all I could do was cry. I kept thinking what could anyone do to help these people. I then turned to my left and saw the huge iron cross pulled from the rubble. It was then that I began to ponder how God could make a difference in their lives and mine.
After a little while, I really stopped searching so hard. I went to a softball tourney that summer in Florida. It turned out to be a tribute to those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks. They had a wall with all the confirmed names of the dead. As we mingled, we met people who lost loved ones who were on the wall. A team from New York City had a hard time making it through. It was painful to watch as they searched the wall for the names they knew, only to cry when they actually found it. We had no idea what to expect for the opening ceremony. Then a plane came overhead and two military men jumped out. They had two flags flying behind them, and when they landed they had two game balls. They handed them to a fire fighter and police officer from New York City, who through out the first pitches. At this point, not a dry eye in the house. We were then led in prayer, which never happens at softball tourneys. The whole weekend the trash talking that usually takes place was gone. This weekend made me reflect on the power of prayer, and how sorrow brings us together.
It would be a couple years before I actually got saved. But as I look back I understand how God was working on me in those situations. I now have this huge desire to help those in need. I have done a mission trip and worked disaster relief. But when I look back, I realize the only thing thing that could have helped many was Jesus. I also get frustrated when I look back. Why is it that so many have already forgotten how God helped them through? Why is it we only call out to Him when things are bad? Why is it that we refuse God like I did at that concert?
I can tell you one thing. That day and the events that followed forever changed me. I will never forget what happened. And I will never forget the power of a nation crying out to God together. Will it take another tragedy like this or Katrina to turn us back to God again? I hope not, but the signs are not encouraging.