It’s early morning in Tyler, Texas at the Youth with a Mission base. As usual, we get up before 7 am, go for breakfast and then start ‘quiet time’ near the dormitory. Suddenly a car arrives, people talk, something is going on. There is a hurry to the room of one of the couples. A little TV appears from a corner, quickly it is set up – only to see things we do not immediately understand. The Twin Towers are burning. Then new rumours come in about the Pentagon, and soon we see the building with circles of smoke above it. We watch for another couple of minutes. I go online with my laptop through the phoneline, but I can’t get on any news site – all overloaded.
Our classes start at 9 (which is 10 am NY time). Jim takes his car and puts on the radio for the small walk up to the classroom. When we are close to the room, the first tower collapses. By now, everybody is in complete shock. We try to start the lessons, but things are just out of control. The TV set in the classroom is put on. Then, in another room, another group breaks out into a spontaneous prayer meeting – one of the most powerful I’ve ever experienced.
Later that day, everybody gathers in the dining hall and base leader Leland Paris addresses us. We watch President Bush address the nation and are amazed by him quoting the Bible. There is another prayer meeting, and first preparations are made to give practical aid.
Later that week, the first emergency response teams are sent to New York to help where they can. The teams soon turn into mobile ‘prayer stations’ that are around Ground Zero for weeks.
A week later, our group drives to New Orleans for an outreach. The nation is still in shock and so is the city – only a few people are out on the streets, but the willingness to talk about the ‘real issues’ of life is unprecedented.
Where were you at 9/11?