9-11, A Day in Infamy – Pt. 2, Aching Hearts and Helping Hands

[If you missed Pt.1 of this post, click on Food for Thought and go to 9-11, A Day in Infamy – Part One, A Unique Mission Field. When I left you last week, we had been evacuated from the UN after the prayer breakfast. Having been informed of the attack on the World Trade Center, our team set out to walk the ten blocks to our Christian Embassy office.]

* * * *

   Reality strikes an eerie blow when a policeman informs us the South Tower has collapsed. Propelled by confusion and fear of the unknown, we hurry toward our office on 52nd. Street.

Someone has set up a television on the street. We stop to watch the second building crumble to the ground. Beside us, a man sobs as if his world has crumbled with the towers.

A woman from New Jersey is stranded with no place to go. We invite her to join us; in the midst of a tragedy, no one is a stranger. We gather in the “living room” of our office to sing, read scripture and pray together. It’s the only way we can begin to regain our stability and renew our hope.

I’m relieved when Jay rejoins us. Thankfully, a fellow team member was able to drive the speaker across the bridge before they closed it. Meanwhile, we’re all desperate to make contact with our families. But the phone lines are erratic and our attempts are futile. Finally, someone reaches a friend in Idaho. He graciously offers to make calls to let our families know we’re okay.

One of the young women on our team weeps as she thinks about the girls from her Bible study who worked at the Towers. Sadly, we realize the worst is yet to come for the families whose loved ones won’t be coming home.

Below our office, hundreds of workers from lower Manhattan slowly trudge up Second Avenue. Some are covered with dust; all are weary and in shock. It’s a long walk to their homes on the Upper East Side, or across the bridge to Queens and other destinations.

They must be unbelievably hot, tired and thirsty. We want to do something to help, but what? Someone suggests, “Let’s go out on the street and hand out water to the people passing by.” Immediately, we all go into action mode. Some of us fill receptacles with water while others set up tables on the street.

Across the street, the manager of a grocery store donates paper cups. We begin to pass out water, but the containers empty too quickly. The guys find huge water jugs and fill them with a hose. We transfer the water to pitchers and then continue to hand out cups to those passing by. Some stop to talk; many express their appreciation; others just stop to quench their thirst.

All around us, we see desperation and hopelessness. Although we want to be unobtrusive, we do want to offer encouragement and hope. After gathering all the materials we have, we pass them out to those who want them. We also set up an easel with a sign which reads, We will pray for your friends and/or family.  Across the top we write a simple message. Jesus is the Living Water.

Some stop to write out their prayer requests. Others just sign their names. In time, the pages are filled with names of people expressing their need for prayer.

That evening, Jay and I return to our apartment physically exhausted and emotionally drained. When we check our answering machine, we’re sobered by all the messages. Everyone wants to know if we’re okay. “Please call us,” they plead. “We just want to hear your voices.”

When we’re finally able to talk to our family, the reality begins to set in. Never before have we encountered such a vivid example of good versus evil. For me, tears come sporadically as my emotions range from numbness to extreme sadness.

When we’re able to pick up emails, our inbox holds 75 personal messages. We can hardly read them for the tears. When tragedy strikes, is anything more important than God showing up, as well as loved ones connecting with one another?

In the weeks and years following 9-11, many of us have questions with seemingly no answers. What does this mean? Is there more to come? Will any of us ever feel safe and secure again?

Some are probably asking this question, as well. Does God care? As this compilation of scriptures so aptly reminds us God does care. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all Comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God….You O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth……God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain. . . .”


(Join me on Wednesday for the conclusion of 9-11, A Day of Infamy. Meanwhile, let’s never forget the significance of this day. Let’s agree to pray for everyone affected by the horrors of the 9-11 attack not only against America, but against God Himself.)

7 Responses to “9-11, A Day in Infamy – Pt. 2, Aching Hearts and Helping Hands”
  1. Millie says:

    Hard to recall all the chaos and emotion of that day, isn’t it, Mom?!But a needed reminder! Thanks for sharing and then pointing it all back to the Lord! Love you!

  2. claire says:

    This is what struck me, “Will any of us ever feel safe and secure again?” We forget that only our eternal destiny is secure – and the “security” of this world’s institutions is actually a frail commodity. But our eternal security is HUGE, and eclipses all the insecurity and loss that we encounter here is this age. And we come to understand this truth only one loving cup of water at a time – Liz, so glad you were there to minister and be ministered to.

    • You are right on, my friend. Wise words and definitely true. At the time of 9-11, we heard various internationals express their insecurity because they’ve always considered America to be the safest place on earth. At the time, they were asking those questions. If this can happen to America, what is going to happen to us? God used those questions to open hearts to the true hope at ground zero. That’s the post for this week. Thanks for commenting and adding your wisdom to the equation. I love it! Liz

  3. Thank you for sharing some of the good things that happened that day. We are thankful that God brought our son-in-law home safely from the tower. We continue to pray for those whose stories didn’t have a happy ending.

  4. Melissa says:

    I remember that day well.

    • I know you do. You were the one to suggest we go to the street to pass out water. And you were the one who was able to get our numbers out for your friend to call our families. Thanks for checkin in.

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