CALIFORNIA CHRISTIANS BRING HOPE TO GROUND ZERO WORKERS They are part of the San Diego Horizon Christian Fellowship New York Ground Zero Outreach teams
By Dan Wooding
NEW YORK CITY, NY (ANS) - Members of the San Diego Horizon Christian Fellowship New York Ground Zero outreach team have been bringing hope and love to the workers at scene of the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center.
"We began sending our volunteer teams to New York on December 26th and by February 26th we will have sent eight teams comprising of 105 people, of which one team was a youth team of 14," said Sundance Whisenant, a leader of Horizon Emergency Assistance Response Teams.
"The ministry opportunity for these teams was serving at the Respite Center at Ground Zero operated by Police Officers for Christ in New York City. This care center has been feeding the workers at Ground Zero on a 24-hour schedule. The meals are hot and are served three times per day. The teams have been serving on one of three eight-hour shifts (8-4, 4-12, 12-8). Their focus has been to meet the basic needs of the workers through meals, hot drinks, etc and when the opportunity presents itself to lend a listening ear."
Rick Moran, leader of team five from Horizon in San Diego gave some insights into the visit he and his co-workers made to the scene of the worst terror attack in US history.
He spoke of an ironworker who sat down next to two of us for about 15 to 20 minutes. "We could sense the stress due to working so close to death and evil destruction," said Rick. "We said very little as he talked. It was a challenge not to interject and fix this man's problems. Towards the end of his sharing with us I wondered what I could do to help him. Just as I was about to stick my foot in my mouth by telling him how all his problems could be made better, he looked up as us and said, (with his New York accent), "You guys don't know how good this is. Just to talk and let it out. Thank you so much.'
"We are daily encountering men and women who are sifting through the rubble of Ground Zero. They come into the center dirty, smelly, tired, angry, hungry, lonely and frightened. They feel and say they come because they are hungry, cold, wet and tired. It has been evident to us that they come because they are being called by the Father in Heaven. This is where God has set up house here at Ground Zero.
"I have heard things like, 'You are a breathe of fresh air.' 'You don't know how much we need this (you).' 'Thank you for spending time with me.' 'Don't you have better things to do?' You see these people are a sample of our neighborhoods. If I treated these people like I treat most of my neighbors I wouldn't talk to any of them, yet I'm here. Why am I here? It is to listen. You see I need to be willing to spend time with these so I can listen. This is what we need to do in our neighborhoods as well. Team five prays that we bring this same spirit home to San Diego and listen to our neighbors."
Christine Gibson also filed a report of her experience at Ground Zero. She said, "First of all, the most amazing testimony of our group is that we all kept up with our team leader Richard Orias for nearly an entire week!
"Seriously...we were counseled as a group to focus more on listening than evangelizing. One of my first encounters was with a female NYPD officer who came in and sat at one of the computers. She had a long ponytail and was trying to comb out a nasty knot while attempting to access her e-mail at the same time. I gently combed the knot out of her hair; we talked (I listened). Her husband is NYPD too and spent the first few days after 9/11 digging with the others. They are both currently stationed at Ground Zero. They have three children. She shared some of her feelings - mostly about her job. A little tenderness goes a long way. 'As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you.'
"On the first day, much to my surprise, I found myself within the boundaries of the work site. One of the construction workers informed us (while on break at the chapel) that some of the guys were not 'breaking,' that they 'wanted to work right through.' Our team leader chose four of us to go 'out.' We were instructed to provide coffee, hot chocolate, etc. to the NYPD on the perimeter. The second set of two officers asked us to offer coffee to the two NYPD on the VIP platform. We gingerly did so. They in turn instructed us to go in to the construction site. OSHA lent us hardhats and off we went. It was a blessed adventure. When we returned we were breathless from all the miraculous encounters.
"Among my favorites were the big glass man, whose job was to replace the windows in the skyscrapers, and his friend who was working on the ground. The glass man pointed out a building that was completed, had been inspected, had the lights on and was due to be inhabited by office workers again on Monday, January 28. It had taken two months to replace all the windows. Both he and his friend were praising God and thanking us. (No, thank you!)
"Then there was Carl 'the sandman.' Actually he was a working foreman at WTC on 9/11 when his boss sent him for a load of sand. When he returned his crew was dead. There were many stories... One thing I noticed was that the guys working the cranes did not tend to come out of their plastic-windowed cocoons. Many of the crew was working on the sewer lines (they were collapsed) the day we were there. The site smelled like sewer lines mixed with the burned. There was no smell of 'death,' but you could still feel it. We were in awe when we returned. These guys are brave. I think somehow Richard knew we might end up inside. The team back at the chapel was praying for us.
"We also met Julie from the small Salvation Army 'pup' tent inside Ground Zero. (There was a large one too - loud, I was told.) She had been there five weeks with three more to go. Her co-worker, newly arrived, was a young man from Calvary Chapel Murrieta, California. I told my partner/roommate 'we need to go over there.' I knew we had a sister in the Lord there. She talked to us about the 'guys' and the site in tears. We prayed together/cried together."
Another Horizon team member, Diane Kirk, wrote, "Well I'm back. I actually returned with a bug that I caught while out in New York but God still used it in a mighty way, and even sustained me the whole time with very little sleep. I totally experienced the verse 'My strength is made perfect in your weakness' firsthand. It was somewhat hard reflecting back on what I experienced in New York these past couple of days let alone trying to recover physically since my body clock is way off and not to mention the bug I've been trying to get over. All and all it was an incredible trip! God did great and mighty things out there.
"In a nutshell, I was able to lead two men to the Lord, one last Friday, Jaime, and the other last Saturday night, Hector. Many seeds were also planted throughout the week. One particular Ret. Chief of the NYFD, Tony, said for the first time he was actually interested in hearing about God as another team member and I continued to witness and give examples of our own personal relationship with the Lord and how He is real. Tony was very interested in hearing more and was all ears that he kept his out-of-town subordinate waiting for over an hour. Tony is confused though and upset with God like many others we ran into. They don't understand how God could have allowed such a catastrophe to occur. Yet Tony said he should have perished in the Tower that day. He just happened to take that one day off and realizes that God spared him.
THEY SAW PEOPLE "JUMPING OUT OF THE TOWERS"
"There were many other opportunities I had talking with individuals and just getting them to open up as they described their experiences over the past four months. Many whom I talked to have been there since 9/11. They saw it all! People jumping out of the Towers, witnessed the jetliner as it plowed into Tower 2; dead bodies and body parts everywhere; not one person was found alive I was told. I'm not sure how explicit I should get, but I'm just informing you what I was told so you have a true perspective of what these people have been going through and how to be praying for them. The workers described the bodies that they were finding as ghostlike (probably in the beginning from all the ashes, approx. 4" of ashes covered the ground); and also body parts that looked to them like steak. One of the ironworkers said he started out on the job by being handed a leg.
"I spoke with a NYPD, Bob, who had his famous canine dog, Atlas (will be awarded in Las Vegas for heroic behavior), with him who survived the Tower crashing down. They dove under a truck and dug their way out of the rubble completely covered in ashes. The smoke was so bad they couldn't see a foot in front of them. There was so much confusion. They lost contact with the NYFD command post, (or was it the NYPD? not sure), located under the Tower, who was giving out orders until the Tower collapsed on them. I was told they lost a whole level of upper senior commanders."
"I had the opportunity to go down to Ground Zero three days in a row and was even given a grand tour of the Grounds by a supervisor who was there since Day 1. He was in charge of making a clearing for the heavy equipment to come in. I was told to bring my camera in and take pictures. So if any of you want to see them, I've got them. Right now it looks like a meteor had hit and looks somewhat like a big crater. If I didn't know better, it would look like a huge construction project going on but in actuality it's more of an open gravesite. They're at the bottom now about seven stories below street level. The workers have cleared out what would normally take them a year to do in just four months. They have done an exceptional job! I know they're moving fast not only for the sake of the victim's families but also so everyone can move on with their lives.
THREE FIREMEN BODIES RECOVERED
"When I was at Ground Zero last Friday, three other team members and I experienced three firemen bodies being recovered. It was the most sobering and somber experience. Whenever a body is found all equipment and work comes to a halt; there's complete silence. They had American flags draped over the three bodies as the firemen of their unit carried the bodies out on stretchers through 'the pit' and up the ramp where approx. 150 firemen stood at attention. 75 firemen on each side of the ramp as the firemen with the stretchers stopped in the center with all heads bowed in a prayer of silence. They then placed their helmets back on their heads and saluted as the bodies were carried up the ramp to the ambulances.
"The Lord also provided me the opportunity to meet two widows that happened to be there on the grounds looking into 'the pit' where the search for the remains of firemen and others are still in process. One had an infant baby with her which a teammate and me questioned why anyone in their right mind would bring an infant to a hazardous area; the air and ground is still highly hazardous. After talking with them, I then found out who they were. It turned out the woman with the three-week-old baby was still waiting for the firemen to find the remains of her dead husband who was also a fireman. They had already found the remains of the other woman's husband within the first couple of weeks after 9/11. I spoke with the widow's sister who described her experience of 9/11 to me. She worked within blocks of the World Trade Center and was coming to work on the subway.
"Everyone on the subway saw the first Tower burning thinking that an accident had occurred. New Yorkers expected that one day a plane would accidentally run into the Towers because the Towers were so high; 110 floors. They all realized it wasn't an accident as they watched a plane fly into the second Tower. She said the subway came to a halt, as they were crossing over a bridge. People were panicking and screaming to get off thinking the bridge might also be attacked."
Mike MacIntosh, who is senior pastor Horizon Christian Fellowship in San Diego, CA, was one of the first chaplains on the scene after the 9/11 attack. Along with an assist pastor, Mickey Stonier, he is part of "Spiritual Care Air Incident Response Team" and was asked to help coordinate chaplains who came from all over America to help the survivors, the families of those who died, and the courageous workers at Ground Zero.
Dan Wooding is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times). Wooding is also a syndicated columnist, and was for ten years a commentator on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC. Wooding is the author of some 40 books, one of which is "Blind Faith" which he co-authored with his 93-year-old mother Anne Wooding, who was a pioneer missionary to the blind of Nigeria in the 1930s. Copies of this book are available from the ASSIST USA office at PO Box 2126, Garden Grove, CA 92842-2126. His writings are on the ASSIST Website at: www.assist-ministries.com
Sent: 6/18/03 (church mass e-mail)
Suject fwd: Where Does God Want Me At this Moment?>
After Sept. 11 ... I happened to call a man on business that I didn't know and have not, nor will ever, talk to again. But this day, he felt like talking. He was head of security of a company that had invited the remaining members of a company who had been decimated by the attack on the TwinTowers to share their office space. With his voice full of awe he told me stories of why these people were alive and their counterparts were dead ....and all the stories were just 'little' things.
As you might know, the head of the company got in late that day because his son started kindergarten.
Another fellow was alive because it was his turn to bring donuts. One woman was late because her alarm clock didn't go off in time. One was late because of being stuck on the New Jersey Turnpike because of an auto accident.
One missed his bus. One spilled food on her clothes and had to take time to change. One's car wouldn't start. One went back to answer the telephone. One had a child that dawdled and didn't get ready as soon as he should have. One couldn't get a taxi.
There were other stories that I hope and pray will someday be gathered and put in a book. The one that struck me was the man who put on a new pair of shoes that morning, took the various means to get to work but before he got there, he developed a blister on his foot. He stopped at a drugstore to buy a Band-Aid. That is why he is alive today.
Now when I am stuck in traffic, miss an elevator, turn back to answer a ringing telephone ... all the little things that annoy me ... I think to myself, this is exactly where God wants me to be at this very moment.
May God continue to bless you with all those annoying little things and may you remember their possible purpose.