Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where I Was on September 11, 2001

Amid the myriad of high emotions felt by every American on that fateful day, I felt a different emotion from most.

We were on the mission field in Perth, Western Australia.  Adéye had just put little two-year-old Connor and one-year-old Kellan to bed.  Being tired that day, she went to sleep early herself.

As these days, I like to check the news before I turn in for the night.  What I saw on every television station in Perth froze me in place. 

I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I remember watching alone, feeling the need to wake up my wife to make sure that what I was seeing was real.  After all, these eyes have never seen such an event on TV before, much less, in my own country.

We watched as the first tower was burning, while other reports were coming in of planes going down and flying into the Pentagon.  Then, before our very eyes, we watched live as another plane flew into the other building.  Then the images of people jumping out windows sent shivers down our spines.

They were saying that as many as 50,000 people could be the death count.  It didn’t soften the blow when we finally learned that “only” 3,400 people died that morning.

We were serving in a large church in Perth at the time, helping them with their evangelism efforts.  When I walked in the doors the next morning, I was asked by several people if I knew anyone who died in the attack.

“Well,…I don’t know,” I said, taken aback.  I thought it was an odd thing to ask me.  On par with, “Oh, you’re from South Africa.  You must know my uncle in Kenya.”  But I knew why so many asked me that.  They wanted to feel a connection with the event.  And I must say, I needed to feel it too.

And that’s the emotion that took me by surprise that day—a longing to be with “my people.”  To suffer along with them.  To commiserate.  Or put in biblical terms, “to mourn with those who mourn.”  So I did the next best thing.  I asked the senior pastor if I could hold a prayer memorial for those in my part of Australia who were grieving immensely and needed support.

We publicized the memorial on the local radio station, stating that if any American or any other grieving person needed prayer, to come to the event.

To my utter dismay, the auditorium was packed.  I don’t remember seeing any other American there.  Just me and the wife of a staff member.  All others were Australians.  And there was scant a dry eye in the house.

Struggling to get the words out at first, I remember telling the audience that I had not felt like that since the day my mother died in 1993.  Then I forgot what I said after that.  I DO remember, though, that the Father presented Himself as a sweet, sweet spirit in that auditorium that night.  His peace filled the room.  We all needed the love of our Daddy, and He was there to deliver.  

So here we are, ten years later.  All of those emotions and images resurfacing.  Is it bad of me to not want to watch all of the commemoration footage on television?  Why is it still so raw?  Why did I feel like crying the entire day today?

I don’t have those answers.  But I am so, so thankful that we have THE answer to all of this worldly depravity just a breath of prayer away.  And even closer.  When the Lord of lords and King of kings resides in our hearts, somehow He does a contortionist act—He wraps His arms around our souls and squeezes us into His bosom, reassuring us that this, too, shall pass, and that all is well with my soul.

The gospel is such good news, friends.  And the lightning pure love of Jesus Christ makes it that much gooder.  (Is that a word?)

Pray for those families who lost heroes on that day.  We need more of them.


  1. thank you so much for this! It is so worthy to be a family as christians, united in prayers and in mourn,and in happiness. No matter if you're in the US, Australia, Europe of South Africa. We have the same Daddy!
    From a sister in Europe! (we also felt the pain that day!Until today)

  2. Morning bro - I cried off and on all day yesterday - and today I'm still started when I opened the morning paper and saw the image (among the many) of a friend from NYPD who disappeared that day, last seen headed up the steps in the north tower hustling folks out. His remains, as those 1700+ others, were never recovered....yeah, a hard day....

    And our Gospel yesterday was one of forgiveness - 7 times 70 times...and I'm moved to remember that while it seems that all terrorists are muslim it is critical that we remember that NOT all muslim are terroists...

    And finally - that we never forget....


  3. @Anonymous, thank you, sister! What a joy to consider how we'll all be together someday at our heavenly family reunion!

    @Aus, well said. And so sorry for your friend. He or she is a true, true hero!


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