Every year I spend a few minutes on this day reflecting on the tragic events of that morning. There are so many lessons about treasuring life, loving unreservedly, making sacrifices, and finding hope in Jesus that I could fill several pages with enlightening material. Today I want to tell you a story.
In September of 2001, I was ready to launch a new Church. I had been on the field for 13 months working hard to get this thing off the ground. I had gathered a small group of people and kept building a team. During the summer, we held “preview programs” each month to let the community know we were coming. Our “Grand Beginning” was slated for Sunday, September 16th.
Outside of working with people one on one, I also had a marketing campaign to help the Church get going the right direction. There were three mailer cards (trendy at the time) to be sent out each week leading up to the launch. The Church had paid thousands of dollars for design, printing and mailing each of these cards. They were all dropped off four weeks before the big day at the post office with dates they were to be received attached. One by one, they went out. It was generating a buzz in the community, and numerous people were showing interest.
Then on September 11, 2001, I headed to the Church office and turned on the radio as I usually did on my drive across town. There I was greeted with silence and a somber voice telling me of the morning’s events. I arrived at the office a few minutes before my associate, who ran in telling me details. I called my wife and told her to turn on the TV, and everyone watched in horror as the morning unfolded.
Next, a thought went through my mind, “Our mailer cards are hitting today.” The third and final card was a picture of a man speaking in front of a group with cobwebs coming off his body. It was a drawing of an older man who was clearly boring people. The caption said, “Yada, Yada, Yada” You flip it over, and there it read, “Think you have heard it all before?” It proceeded to tell you about this exciting new Church coming that Sunday. It was meant to be funny and final note in the three-card series about this new Church.
I knew the moment they hit. The phone started ringing. People were furious. One man asked, “How could you try to do something funny on a day like this?” Everyone spoke to me as if I knew what was about to happen and chose to send these despite the problematic situation. I am not kidding you that I spent a few hours explaining to people that I dropped these off four weeks before and had no idea of the tragedy that would happen that day. The calls were just the beginning as I received emails and letters the coming week from upset community members.
Finally, Sunday came, and our new Church launched. We were on track to have 300 or more people at this grand beginning that included many well-wishers that I knew, and hopefully a group of interested people. Instead, everyone went to their home Church or back to a place of worship, of which they were familiar. All total 120 came to our launch, and that included my wife and I’s family. We were officially one week into this new Church, and it looked like everything was going to derail. The following week a little over 60 people showed up, and things looked grim. This was all the direct result of events of that Tuesday morning.
I am thankful to say that the first year was rougher than planned, and we struggled to get off the ground, but the power of God was more significant than September 11. Now, 18 years later, the Church still exists, although it has changed names and made some major adjustments, it is still there. The forces of evil did not kill the Church on that day.
So, every year I spend some time reflecting on this morning. This year is no exception. While I hurt for those families, who lost loved ones, I also spend time thinking about the Church that almost died that morning. I also think about the collateral damage of pain. September 11th could have killed that new Church located thousands of miles from the activity, but by the power of God, it did not. Each year I am reminded that I worship a God bigger than the work of evil in this world. He is a God who can do his mighty work, and September 11th will never stop him.