“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NIV
At this busy time of the year there is so much to do and much mail to read. I hope, though, you can find time to read what you were so much a part of in praying for our mission trip to “Ground Zero 9/11, New York.”
Thank you, thank you for your prayers. They carried us through an incredible weekend. We felt we were fully in God’s hands with an openness and availability to His will for us.
The devastation, it’s still hard to believe —- even after looking at the ruins of what was once the World Trade Towers and even after standing on deserted streets with dusty, dirty buildings still not open for occupation. Finding words to describe it all is difficult.
We went knowing we were going to help pack “Boxes of Love” and hand out the magazine “Fallen, But Not Forgotten” at ground zero, but the details of how and what to expect were not quite clear.
We arrived Friday morning so we would have the day to see and get a feel for New York. We visited Times Square, the Empire State Building, Macy’s; from all outward appearances life seemed “normal.” However, one had to only talk to people to know it was not. In evidence, too, was the American flag —— it was EVERYWHERE! It was on buildings, in store displays, on clothing and on Christmas trees as decorations. Also, we had to go through security to get in the Empire State Building and then when on top, there was that kind of quiet hush on the side where the towers were.
Friday night we met with the rest of our group, about 55 of us. There we heard stories from the different ministries in our division of where they were when the attack happened and what they’ve been doing since to minister to others, both in NYC and DC. We heard from a lady who with her family had just been able to return to their apartment only a few blocks from the Trade Center.
The next morning a rented bus took us to one of the two warehouses to pack the “Boxes of Love” for the (now many more) needy of NYC. It was very organized and we were given instructions on what we were to do. My job was to put an empty box on the line that someone else had put together. By the time it went down the line it was filled with a complete Thanksgiving dinner for 6 and included a Jesus video, Josh McDowell’s book, “More Than a Carpenter”, a New Testament and a children’s book.
Between the two warehouses we, with many others from all over the country, would pack about 20,000 boxes. From our location we were asked to pray especially for 1,000 boxes packed for an Arabic neighborhood and that had the Jesus video and Josh’s book in Arabic.
That evening the seven of us decided to go to ground zero. Arriving there we were quite taken back by what we saw. As we walked from the subway closer to the site, we passed work being done on the underground pipes on the streets, workers with hard hats and masks either on their way to or from work. Then we turned down a street and there it was in front of us, lit up brighter than day as work is still being done around the clock. Our first view was of the skeleton piece of one of the towers that still is standing. It took our breath away. Down another street we saw the tall cranes with the flags hoisted up on them, and down another street — “ruins and rubble.”
At one of the barricades we talked to a police woman who hadn’t had a day off since it happened. She, however, was on vacation starting the next day. She said she was going to stay home and do nothing. I dare say some of that probably would include finally being able to begin to process all that happened and finding some way to deal with it. As we left her one of us said she would be praying for her and another said God bless you. I just put my hand on her arm and she immediately responded by reaching out for me.
We continued on to one of the memorial areas. This one until recently had been private just for the families involved. We took the time to read all the letters and look at the photos, drawings and mementos. In some ways we felt we were intruding on private thoughts and feelings, but this allowed us to be able to cry and mourn with them.
Sunday morning we decided to attend the “Brooklyn Tabernacle Church.” Now if the night before hadn’t completely prepared our hearts for the day ahead, this church absolutely took care of whatever else was needed! It was a powerful service — the message was about lost souls, how God cares for them and the role God asks of us. After calling for anyone there who might be one of those lost souls to give their hearts to Jesus, the pastor asked for all those who were ready to commit to the harvest to stand. Following were prayers and worship and, truly, a sending us ready into the harvest field; that day to be ground zero.
Ground zero is very different during the day. There are a lot of people, vendors selling all kinds of things, just a lot of activity. We found places appropriate to start passing out the “Fallen but not Forgotten” 9/11 remembrance magazine. People would take them, many would walk a few steps and start reading it. Some would then come back and ask for more. Very few refused, we saw none being thrown on the ground, and some even stopped and wanted to talk. I started out with 100 magazines and they were gone in about 20 minutes.
Knowing God used us through YOUR prayers to be His messengers so we could give these people the opportunity to read how much God loves them, cares about their suffering, wants to have a relationship with them, and how that can happen, we are just so thankful to you. Although we know it won’t change their circumstances, it WILL change their lives with knowing the unending love of God, that secure hope we have in Jesus Christ and His peace that passes all understanding.
We can’t thank you enough for sustaining us through this incredible opportunity to serve others for the cause of Christ. Many lives will be changed because of YOU.
On behalf of “Jenine, Jenna, Bonnie, Tracy, Heather, Pam and me,” we all thank you.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
In His love,