On September 11, 2001, an explosion that shook our building awoke my husband and me.
We ran to the terrace on the 24th floor of our apartment building, which is six blocks from the World Trade Center. We saw thick, black smoke pouring from the North Tower. We watched as a second plane roared overhead and struck the South Tower. The impact hurled us backward into our living room and briefly knocked us unconscious.
When we came to, we grabbed our dog and ran. Barefoot and still wearing pajamas, we sought safety in nearby Battery Park. But the nightmare continued as the towers fell, covering us with toxic dust and debris while heavy smoke surrounded us in a deadly cloud. A boat eventually rescued us, but we couldn't return to our apartment for weeks. The attacks also left us unemployed and our dog clinging to life. Immediately, we showed symptoms of PTSD.
At the time, I identified as a Christian, but my faith was compartmentalized, weak, and untested. When our bills overwhelmed us, a friend advised me to go to a church that was helping 9/11 victims financially. As someone who gave to charity and had never been on the receiving end, I went reluctantly.
The aid workers at the church listened as I vented my sorrow and frustration. They bore witness to my pain and validated my experience. And they cared. I walked out the door holding an envelope containing financial help. Something shifted inside me. I felt hope. That simple act of Christian mercy began the process toward restoring my faith in God and igniting a new desire to learn more about Him.
Brian and I began worshipping at this church, eventually making friends, joining Bible study groups, engaging in church activities, and volunteering with outreach programs. All of which led us into a deeper relationship with Christ that changed our lives.
As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, I look back and realize our current endeavors and blessings flow from that awful day. God met us at our lowest point, sheltered us, and rebuilt us in His image.
In this broken world, we know that injustice and suffering will be a constant presence. But take heart. Jesus has overcome the world, and He promises He will never forsake or abandon us.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
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Christina Ray Stanton has been the director of Missions at Redeemer Presbyterian Church (Founder, Timothy Keller) for a decade. Her husband is Redeemer's long-time Chief Financial Officer. She is an award-winning author of two books and several articles and is a professional speaker who has appeared on TBN, CNN, and Fox News. She is also a contributor to Outreach magazine, The Gospel Coalition, and others. She is a licensed NYC tour guide of twenty-five years who specializes in 9/11 history.