Witness to 9/11 attack recalls how tragedy drew her to faith
By Christina Ray Stanton
New York, N.Y.
In September 2001, my husband and I were newlyweds. We had just moved back to New York City and found a rental in the Financial District on the 24th floor of a building that featured a terrace overlooking the World Trade Center, which was just six blocks away.
On the morning of 9/11, I was awakened by Brian screaming that a bomb had gone off in the World Trade Center. We rushed onto the terrace and watched the scene before us: people running across the highway to the Hudson River, the ambulances, fire trucks and police speeding down the highway, as well as the fire that shot out from either side of the building.
That was the start of the terrible day that changed our lives forever.
[Unable to stay in our apartment in the weeks that followed,] I became worried about the mounting bills while we were displaced.
We weren’t used to asking for help, but a close Christian friend encouraged me to go to Redeemer Presbyterian Church for monetary assistance. She told me people from all over the world had donated to Redeemer and that I should apply to receive aid.
Although I had attended church when I was growing up in Florida, it had been years since I had a relationship with God. I believed self-reliance and hard work would get me what I wanted. What did I need God for? My husband felt the same way.
But here we were, unemployed, suffering from PTSD, relying on the kindness of strangers. Asking for assistance is nothing I’d ever done before, and it was challenging to accept help. My Christian friend urged me to go anyway.
The director of the division managing those funds handled things with dignity and grace and alleviated my embarrassment over being there. The church quickly produced a check that covered our bills, and we subsequently decided to make Redeemer our home church.
A lot has changed for my husband and me since 9/11. It has caused us to reevaluate our relationship with our careers, with each other and with God. Through that indescribable event, God provided and revealed to us a new hope and a new future.
God was a present help and refuge through one of the worst days in American history and the worst day in our lives for sure. Because of that experience, we were molded more into His image, and we enjoy a deeper relationship with Him. We have freedom to give away in increasing measure to others as a result.
For the past 20 years, we have lived with the assurance that through faith in Christ, we don’t have to fear anything and our brokenness is where He meets us in His strength.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Christina Ray Stanton is author of “Out of the Shadow of 9/11: An Inspiring Tale of Escape and Transformation.” In 2017, she founded a Christian nonprofit called Loving All Nations. A native of Florida, she attended the University of Montevallo. Read her full story here.
A lady crying in the harbor: A 9/11 reflection
By John Giles
Her name is Liberty, and she is a 22-story tower of strength overshadowing New York Harbor.
She symbolizes to the world the best in freedom and democracy. Through the course of time, she has greeted millions crossing onto her soil from abroad with a hearty welcome to the land of the free and home of the brave.
As she greeted the crisp freshness of the early fall morning of Sept. 11, 2001, little did she know what plans were underway to take her down.
Only time will reveal the full mission of her adversaries, but her own foundation was shaken, as innocent means of transportation were suddenly turned into well-orchestrated and efficient lethal weapons of mass destruction only seen before animated on movie screens.
She weeps way into the night with the children whose moms and dads will not be there to kiss, embrace and tuck them in bed.
She hears the echoes of wailing from spouses and loved ones globally grieving from the depths of their souls.
Her heart aches, pierced by a gulf of unanswered questions, broken cell phone calls and clear final messages of love and farewell left on answering machines.
Although her tears will forever tarnish her copper brow and cheek, this lady stills stands.
Today her face is pointed in the wind as a flint, her shoulders are square, and she is on a providential mission to seek justice, heal and restore. She can only accomplish this insurmountable feat because this land she represents is “one nation under God, indivisible.”
And so this great lady says goodbye to all of those who have fallen. She salutes, as if to signal “until we meet again.”
We are reminded that one day, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away.”
“God, bless America, stand beside her and guide her,” for Your stabilizing hand ensures she will prevail.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This reflection, adapted for print, was written Sept. 14, 2001, three days after the 9/11 attack. TAB shares it in remembrance of the 20th anniversary of the attack to honor the thousands of lives lost and thousands more changed forever as a result. Read the full article at tabonline.org/911-reflection.
Encouraging news from the pews
Recently, a statistic from Lifeway Research Executive Director Scott McConnell caught my attention: the way church members viewed their church’s approach to handling the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Overall, church members are pleased with how their church, and as a byproduct their pastor, handled the pandemic.
[When asked to respond to the statement] “I am proud of how my church has responded during the COVID-19 pandemic,” 86% of respondents agreed with that statement either strongly or somewhat. This is encouraging news to decision-weary church leaders.
What can Southern Baptists do with this research?
- Find a way to show appreciation to your pastors and church leaders. No one except Jesus makes the right decision all the time, but our pastors, working with deacons and other church leaders, navigated the pandemic decisions well. Find a significant way to tell them, “Thank you.”
- Remember the squeaky wheel principle. Never let a handful of unhappy church members set the tone — or the direction — for how the Lord is leading the church forward through the church’s designated leaders.
- Remember to be patient with one another when we are in unprecedented times. Our leaders were forced to lead through previously uncharted waters. Those of us who follow need to remember to be patient with our leaders and with one another during times like these.
May the Lord continue to bless His churches and their leaders with the wisdom they need to walk us through whatever may come our way.
Kentucky Baptist Convention
“You can’t follow Jesus and hold hands with the devil.”
Director of next generation evangelism for North American Mission Board
[The Myers Mallory State Missions Offering] is an excellent opportunity to support many of the ministries of the [Alabama Baptist] State Board of Missions that go directly to help so many where we live.
Director of missions
Salem-Troy Baptist Association
Faith comes alive when we apply Scripture to our daily tasks and concerns. My need for discernment is to understand the Scriptures and areas in my life where I need to apply its teachings. (Ps. 119:125: “Give discernment to me, your servant; then I will understand your laws.”)
The Bible goes to work when we apply it to affected areas. It gives us lessons, commands and examples that we can put into practice.
In the past month, there has been a rise of deep grief across our nation. The rise of deaths among younger Americans due to COVID-19 is becoming apparent. The pain and agony of family members losing their spouses, parents and children is beyond words. … Grief is real and being experienced by great numbers of people.
Losing anyone we love is difficult to put into words. In interacting with these grieving people, what becomes clear to me is the extravagant grace of God rising each time in the need of the hour.
Daily and step by step, God gives them grace to walk through dark days of deep grief and pain that is unimaginable. Even through all the grief, God is seeing people through.
President and CEO
SBC Executive Committee
From the Twitterverse
Monday [Aug. 30] 7:45PM for @NOBTS: Overwhelmed with gratitude. God protected our people. God protected our school. God’s people are rising up to help us & the city we love so much. We have some inconvenience in front of us, but I am filled with hope. #SchoolofProvidenceandPrayer
I’ve never seen a more painful, heartbreaking season than the one we are in now. And COVID hasn’t caused it so much as I fear COVID has revealed what was under the surface for a lot of us, myself included. I’ve never been more convinced of our collective need for God’s grace.
“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God, you’ll be at rest.” —Corrie ten Boom
People will leave a church over politics before they will leave politics for a church.
1.5 hours on Sunday vs. 20 hours a week feeding on cable news and its political partisans ranting, is shaping a lot of people’s theology for the worse.
God will not be mocked.
All too often we are witnesses to who we are and not to who Jesus is. Help us Lord to be consumed with Jesus and forgetful of ourselves, so that we might bear witness of You today.
If it’s real wisdom, it’ll be pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, merciful, full of the Spirit’s fruit, impartial and free from hypocrisy. [James 3:17] It might be factually accurate, even theologically precise, but if it’s devoid of those qualities, it isn’t wisdom.
It’s a very good idea not to allow our churches to be battlegrounds over vax mandates …
When I am deeply hurt by something someone has done or said, I have to give myself permission to be honest about my feelings. But I don’t have to compound the hurt by reacting out of those feelings.
I don’t want today’s reaction to become tomorrow’s regret.
“In principle the whole point of Christianity is that it offers a story which is the true story of the whole world.” —N.T. Wright