Repairing the Broken City
During the early morning hours of Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, the world was treated to an apocalyptic
scene and it was real. The twin towers of what was once the majestic World Trade Center in New York City were destroyed in fire and smoke. To some it was even reminiscent of the scene prophesied in Revelation 18:18 “...When they see the smoke of her burning, the will exclaim, ‘was there ever a city like this great city?”’(NIV)
Don’t misunderstand me. I love New York. I was born and brought up in the Bronx, and I pastor a church in Queens that has been touched powerfully by this wonderful River of the Holy Spirit’s presence. It is not for me to equate the tragedy in New York with the judgment of the evil end-time Babylonian system. I am only underlining the general truth presented in Biblical eschatology that every city and institution established in this present world is not ultimately safe from the painful birthpangs of the last days. We all need to be aware that our peace and security are fragile even in the best of times and in the greatest of cities. Truly the people who suffered from this cowardly evil act are victims. Our place in the Church is to aid the families of the victims and share the message that the only safe place is the shelter of the Most High.
RESTORING THE CITY
Alongside such overwhelming pain, God is demonstrating many acts of grace through His people who have been strategically placed for “such a time as this.” Many churches in different neighborhoods are working right now to open up their doors and hearts to all the grieving people.
In our own assembly, bands of people, after showing their support at the local firehouse and police station, turned to our church for consolation and comfort. This scene was repeated in churches throughout the city. Many showed up right after the disaster holding candles and flags looking for words of hope. Their emotions had been frayed and the Holy Spirit’s presence seemed to give them hope that more survivors could be found, and they were. The very next day, five firefighters were found deep under the rubble of the World Trade Center, still in their rescue vehicle, bruised but alive.
The Holy Spirit was also present and working at Ground Zero in many other ways. He had His people strategically placed to minister to the injured. These were ordinary people anointed to perform extraordinary acts of courage. One such person was a parishioner of our church who worked at the Federal Reserve Building only two blocks away from the WTC. Although she was accustomed to eating breakfast at one of the restaurants in the base of the towers, one week before the disaster, she experienced the overwhelming sense that she shouldn’t eat there anymore because it wasn’t safe. On the morning of September 11th, she was safe inside the Federal Reserve Building.
From there she watched in horror as the buildings imploded and crumbled and people leapt out of the buildings. She saw the people in the streets run in terror as the cloud of acrid smoke chased them through the crowded Manhattan streets. All she could do was pray, “Lord, help those people down in the street, send rescuers to them!”
When she was finally able to leave the building, she began to bump shoulders with the injured and the terrified. To her surprise instead of quickly leaving the scene, she experienced a surge of supernatural compassion and courage from the Lord causing her to become part of the answer to her own prayer. She began to do what she could not naturally do, help the bloodied, hysterical people by helping to bandage their wounds and speak words of comfort at the risk of her own life.
Another Christian who worked on the 90th floor of the WTC found himself divinely positioned in the middle of the horrifying event. As the building burned, he tried to escape with others down a dark and smoke-filled stairwell. As he did, he felt the building began to sway and crumble. He and a small group of people could do nothing but huddle in the corner of the stairwell. He began to lead them in the Lord’s prayer and a prayer to Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. Seconds later, he found himself being pulled out of the rubble by rescue workers. Apart from minor cuts, he was miraculously in tact. He was literally saved from such a height cupped by the Master’s hand. He then got up and continued to help other victims by encouraging them, praying for them and leading them to Jesus. He was another ordinary believer manifesting an extraordinary witness in the midst of the storm.
On September 11th war was declared on the United States, and may God give wisdom to our leaders as to how to engage this elusive enemy. But as usual Satan overplayed his hand and an opportunity for the kingdom of God was created. In the days to come, believers all across our city as well as all over the world will have the opportunity to minister to a very attentive audience, both on the streets and in our churches. The healing already begun at Ground Zero by the Spirit will continue around our city, our nation and the world. In the middle of this war, let us pray that God will continue to use ordinary believers in extraordinary ways.