Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Where Were You On 9/11?
On this day in 2001, 19 terrorists hijacked four jet airliners and flew two of them into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon while the fourth was commandeered by brave citizens who sacrificed their lives and crashed it into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. I remember September 11, 2001 in great detail (as I am sure many do)... I remember exactly what I was doing when I got a call from a friend, telling me to turn on the TV. A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I remember my shock and horror at seeing the smoke billowing from the building and how stunned I was to see the second plane hit the second tower. I couldn't believe that this was happening on American soil. This was the kind of thing that happened in war- torn countries... “over there” somewhere, then I came to myself and I knew exactly what I needed to do.
I got dressed as quickly as possible, got in my car and drove straight to church... to intercessory prayer, where I knew I could be of the greatest service to all those who were hurting in New York and D.C. As I walked in the door and stood before the intercessory prayer leader, the first words out of my mouth were, “reporting for duty”... which really shocked me because I had never served in the military and the whole idea seemed foreign to me, but I knew it was real, I knew I meant it and I knew I was there to “throw down”. I knew that this wasn't just a physical battle, but a spiritual one and I was there to “war in the spirit”... for the protection of my country, for the solace of the families who lost loved ones and for those whose lives were hanging in the balance... that they would live and not die. That was a very intense prayer session. I spent several hours there praying, crying, travailing... by the time I left, I was spent... but I knew I had to do something more.
As the days progressed and more news came forward, I found myself watching TBN. Paul Crouch was interviewing a pastor from a church at ground zero. The pastor talked about how ministries from all over the world were coming to “help” in New York, but few took the time to find out what the ministries already there were in need of... and it was not very helpful to the ministries who were already there... who knew the people and the lay of the land. The number for this pastor's church flashed on the lower part of the screen and thought... “I'll call. Maybe I can leave a message for the pastor, get an address to send them something... anything”. I dialed the number and to my amazement, the associate pastor answered. I was so shocked to hear an actual human being on the other end, it took a second before I could speak. The associate pastor and I had a brief but very nice conversation and it was surprisingly joyful. He and his congregation had been through a lot and were definitely in need, but what they needed most was prayer and it was so good to speak with a fellow laborer and to know he was o.k., that his spirits were high and to encourage one another. At that moment, I decided it was time I got to know more of the body.
I spent the next couple of months visiting other ministries... doing street evangelism with Dream Center here in Los Angeles, visiting Dyan Cannon's ministry, “God's Party”, I even found the Quaker House at USC and tried to make contact with them (we were never able to connect). We increased street evangelism at my home church and at the church were my mother pastored. I made a special effort at her church to highlight how special this country is to God, how important the people in this minority, urban community are to God and how they should celebrate God's love for them and rejoice in being an American, because I know due to bad treatment, that is something some minorities have a hard time doing. I wanted that community to know that no matter what anyone may have said to them or about them, God wanted them here, God loves them and to walk in full ownership of the rights, privileges and responsibilities of being an American... and above all, to defend it.
That 4th of July, I along with a group from my mother's little church (about 6 of us... and that was probably a third of the church) stood on the corner of Crenshaw and Hyde Park in South Los Angeles, sparklers and little flags in hand, and sang the Star Spangle Banner and “Battle Hymn of the Republic” at the top of our lungs, waving little flags, waving at cars and praying for people as they walked down the street.... people who needed prayer... people who gave a nod or words of support... people who wanted to join in, and some did. Passing drivers honked their horns and waved. It was a good 4th of July, one of the best in my life and I was proud to be an American. Proud to be born in a place where these words were true “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness...”