I'll never forget where I was 12 years ago when the news media reported the planes that hit the Twin Towers, Rammed into the Pentagon, and one was found in pieces in Shanksville, PA. Holding my newly born daughter, I thought the world was coming to an end. And in one sense, it did.
The tragedy nearly 3000 innocent people faced that day will remain in the conscience of our country forever. We will never forget. We will always look back at September 11, 2001 as a turning point in history driving the way we think about the world, faith, and people in the world who adopt this evil need to sacrifice themselves for death. I was shell shocked that entire week, and then I went to church...
I'll never forget the weekend after 9-11, every church seat was filled. The church we went to at the time hosted nearly 2500 people in a single service, and it was standing room only. People were crying out for healing, as they watched the news play over and over again the devastation in New York.
My pastor stood at the podium, and asked us to pray.
He asked us to pray for our country.
He asked us to pray for our leaders.
He asked us to pray for those who lost family, friends, and colleagues.
And then He asked us to pray for our enemies.
PRAY FOR OUR ENEMIES? I almost stood up and walked out.
I was in no way ready to hear the words of Jesus, "you have heard it said to love your friends, but I tell you to love your enemies. Do good to those who hurt you."
I just couldn't bring myself to hear it.
It took years for me to even begin to face the hurt, the fear, and the sense of the unknown as I tried to bring myself to even speak of the bitterness in my heart. After all, I had friends in New York that were there, family who worked down the street, and many believers who shared my intense need for revenge.
And then I began to meet people who live in 'those' places where the terrorists were from.
I learned, not all Muslims were 'those' type of people. Most Muslims live much like I do. Sure they dress differently, hold different values in culture, and have an eastern way of approaching many problems; but most just want to live their lives like I do. They want to raise their family. They want to get better jobs. They want to be educated, and provide for their families. They want to live in a world where they can enjoy their communities, and they long to worship.
The majority of the Muslims I met weren't anything like those who live out a life centered around death instead of life. And crazy enough, most Muslims I meet characterize 'those' muslims as evil, deranged, and a tribe doing more damage to the world than any ever desire to see.
Most Muslims I met were ashamed of the atrocities of 9-11. Some of my new friends even weep when we talk about the events feeling the intense pain, anger, sadness, and hurt I held in my own heart.
I've learned there are evil people in the world, but in the most unlikely places, there are people who have learned the message Jesus taught, Love your Neighbors.
I find myself in the most unlikely place at this point in my life sharing my faith with people all over the world. I've had compelling discussions about Jesus with the most unusual candidates, and I'm always amazed how the Power of God works in those relationships to remove the blinders and help both parties to seek friendship. So on this day, remembering the pain of 9-11, I've learned there are many around the world who also share our sadness in our remembrance.
We will never forget...
And in our remembrance...
We pray for the families.
We pray for the victims.
We pray for our country.
We pray for our leaders.
We pray for those who seek peace in the world.
We pray for God to protect and help guide us as we seek to know Him.