September 11, 2011 by Stephen
Ten years ago I lived in Seguin, Texas. I was working as Associate Pastor/Youth Minister at McQueeney Baptist Church. At our church we had a prayer breakfast every Tuesday morning. I remember getting ready to head to the church that Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001. Randa had already left for work. I didn’t normally turn on the television in the morning, but for some reason I was interested in seeing what the weather was going to be like that day. I turned it to ABC to see the local weather when they did the weather report on Good Morning America. Before I headed out the door, I saw the report of the first plane hitting the north tower. At the time, nobody knew what was going on. It was assumed that it was a small plane that had an accident. I drove to work and heard the report on the radio about a plane hitting the south tower. At this time, I knew something bad was happening. We spent time discussing what was happening and praying at our prayer breakfast even though we didn’t have any details yet. Towards the end of our breakfast we started receiving phone calls. The Pentagon had been hit by a plane. Our Association’s Pastors Fellowship was meeting at our church later in the morning, so I went to our youth room and got the television all set up so we could watch the news and see what was going on. There were all kinds of wild reports and while I was setting everything up, I watched in horror as the south tower fell. It seemed that the possibility of the towers falling wasn’t a reality. After that it was just horrible waiting for the inevitable collapse of the north tower. I had no words, only tears. After the report of Flight 93 crashing in a field in Pennsylvania, I think my mind went numb. The only thing I remember is thinking that world had just fundamentally changed before my eyes and that was the world that my child was going to be born into – you see, Randa was pregnant with our first child.
I remember speaking to the youth group the next night. We talked about what had happened. We cried. We expressed our anger and our hurt. We talked about being there for each other. We talked about how we needed to be there for the Muslim students in the schools they attended. We talked about being people of love and peace. It was a good night. I remember later, as the tension was building toward war with Iraq, feeling a sense of dread. We seemed to be on an inevitable course that only led to war. I remember preaching on a Sunday night and taking a risk by reading a letter Brian McLaren wrote to President Bush that was prophetic in warning what the war would lead us into.
Fast forward to today. We live in Alexandria, Virginia. We moved here in 2004. One of the questions that was asked of us during the interview process was if we felt okay with moving to this area. 9/11 had fundamentally changed the world. Today, I am left with questions. What would have happened had we only gone after Al-Qaeda instead of entering into war with Iraq and Afghanistan? Is it possible to forgive the terrorists who took over 3000 lives ten years ago? How can we love our enemies? My eyes still tear up when I see the remembrances, especially today’s – the first responders and family members holding the giant flags at the Redskins-Giants and Jets-Cowboys games, the buglers at the 9/11 Memorial in New York and at Arlington Cemetery, and all the people sharing the memories about their friends and loved ones. Most of all, this day challenges me to be a better Christ-follower – someone who loves God and loves people with all I am. May God form me into a person who trusts fully in Him to accomplish the things that I cannot do on my own.