Follow Us

How did 9/11 change you?

I was working at home that morning.   We don’t have a TV. I rushed over to Scott Borg’s and sat in his driveway as Tom Brokaw described how the second tower was falling. My heart was in my throat. What did it mean? How broad would these attacks be?   People thought as many as 25,0…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
I was working at home that morning.
We don’t have a TV. I rushed over to Scott Borg’s and sat in his driveway as Tom Brokaw described how the second tower was falling. My heart was in my throat. What did it mean? How broad would these attacks be?
People thought as many as 25,000 might have died in the towers. We later gave thanks that there were only 3,000.
AIM usually responds quickly to crises. We had boots on the ground after the tsunami. We had 4000 volunteers help with Katrina within a year, 75 people arrived that first week. We were all over Port-au-Prince after the earthquake and in Alabama cleaning up after the tornadoes.
But 9/11 was before all that.

Staff members Bill Britton and Jen Borders arrived at Ground Zero within weeks to help out. The wreckage of fallen buildings lay in jagged heaps on the
ground. The body count was rising daily.

Bill described a fireman playing a kind of
requiem on the bagpipes for his lost friends.

“I turned to see and there in the brightness of artificial
lights was a lone fireman in full gear blowing forcefully into his instrument.
The look on his face is indelibly etched into my heart and soul. The image
caused me to weep.

“The fireman-musician looked forlorn, his eyes red, his
cheeks puffed as he struggled, as if desperately trying to breathe life into
someone he knew was dead. We had heard that only an hour or so before, another
brother fireman had been pulled from the rubble (about the 10th since we
arrived here). It was as if his bagpipe was his fallen comrade and somehow he
wanted to bring him back to life; yet knowing he couldn’t, his heart was
We since learned more about al Queda than we ever wanted to know. We watched helplessly as the TSA began frisking old ladies before they boarded airplanes. I thought sure there’d be another calamity somewhere in America. It’s amazing all the shoe bombers and other incompetent terrorists that we’ve thwarted along the way.
For a while, people reached out to God with their pain and their grief. Then things drifted back to a new normal.
I’m more attuned to how fragile we humans are. I’m more present to what God is doing in the earth and how we might join him.


How about you? Where were you when the towers fell? How has 9/11 changed you?

Comments (11)

  • Seth…one of your best. Our hope is not in a strong America, but a good and strong unseen God who is with us when we weep. Wow. Thanks for relaying Bill’s experience. Wow.

  • I was in college, walking through the quad, in between classes. My class had ended early, so there were very few people out at the time. I remember it being unusually quiet that morning.

    I stopped in the library to check email and scanned some news sites that said something about a terrorist attack, but it didn’t sink in.

    I knew something had happened, but I didn’t know what.

    I walked to class, made my way to the computer lab where we had Spanish, and there it was on the television. The lab was full of people, but no one spoke. We only watched.

    The towers had been hit, but that was all we knew. We watched a replay of the first, but the second came in real time. And then, they fell.

    At the moment, I wasn’t scared or mad or upset. I was just numb.

    The whole day and rest of the week were like that. It took me time to even process what I had just seen occur.

  • I should have been standing on Ground Zero when the towers were hit. It was only a last minute cancellation of a meeting on 9/11 that prompted me to catch the last flight out of Newark the night before.

    This wasn’t the first time that the Lord intervened for me when my life could have been lost. Knowing that His hand protected me has helped me along the way when I have struggled or wandered in my walk. I am reminded of feeling convinced that He must have a purpose for this life he has preserved more than once. I am reminded that I am His, and all that I am and all that I do should be a constant response to His mercy.

    Change is what happens when we realize we are not our own, but the precious – and protected – property of the Creator.

  • “…people reached out to God with their grief and pain. Then things drifted back….” I heard later about many who went into a church building for the first time in a long time, or for the first time ever. They didn’t find God there and left. That’s how 9/11 affected me. The opportunity was great and they found clouds with no rain, a tree with no fruit. Tragic and heartbreaking. I pray that God will connect me with hungry hearts and keep me full of Jesus, and to be in gatherings that will not disappoint seekers.

  • I was home early from work in Abuja, trying to find something to eat, when someone screamed, YOU ARE WATCHING CNN?!”

    9/11 made sure all my plans to stay put in America when I arrived 2yrs later failed.

    9/11 put me where I am today, in Abba’s will. It gives me a very strange feeling, reminiscing the whole thing… how can I say thank God for 9/11?

  • I was in second period physics (junior in high school) when the principal made the announcement. They had TVs in the lunch room with the news on that day.

    My school was near Logan airport. I remember the fear we all felt, some kids running out of class into the hall, and others ducking under desks when a plane flew over us when none were supposed to be flying in the area a day or two later.

    It overwhelmed me with the hate that exists in the world and the need for love.

  • I was home watching the television in disbelief. I was raised in N.Y. My father was still working at 20 Exchange at the time. He spent his time between that building and one of the twin towers. Dad called us to tell us he saw the first plane crash and he didn’t know what was happening. I heard it was a terrorist attack and informed him. I told him to run and leave the building immediately. He called back to say goodbye and that he loved us if he didn’t make it out. I then didn’t hear from him for over an hour. I watched the towers fall and thought he lay under the rubble. I had screamed at him to run out.

    The rubble flattened everything and everyone in the Exchange area. I thought I sent him to his death. He called back later in a panic because for some reason he couldn’t get the doors open. The rubble had locked him in and saved his life.

    How did it change me? I keep really short accounts. I don’t allow anger to ever turn into bitterness. I make sure the last thing my loved ones here me say is always I love you. I remember that life changes in an instant and that nothing is certain and that every life is precious.

  • I remember walking into work early that morning and seeing everybody gathered around the computers in our room watching the news. It was that profound silence and complete focus on what they were watching that immediately clued me in to something drastic. Of course I never in a million years would have guessed or imagined what I soon saw on the news.

    My sister was living in NY at the time, and my parents were in PA, so I suddenly felt very distant because I was in Seattle then. I was very concerned for them and felt completely helpless and unsure of their safety.

    I think the biggest impact for me was just the awareness that we are not immune to war and attack. Prior to that, the US seemed invinsible to me because all of the other things like Pearl Harbor and WW 1&2 were just in history books. 9-11 brought to reality our vulnerability and the idea that we may actually face hardship and suffering in a way I though only happened “in other countries”. The idea of war on US soil became a real possability.

  • After that we are safe in Pakistan becasue this is big change after the 9-11 and we daily pray for usa and all missionaries.May God bless usa.

  • woke to another somber day of existence,took steps that lead me down to earth,from my lofty resting nest heard a friend say turn on the tele your not going to believe with eyes wide open I started to grieve buildings burning bodies jumping how can this be and lo a second ship comes to harbor in the sky cant explain other than to say deep speaks to deep its cemented in this feeling this knowing the whole world has just changed.no more fallacys get down on bended knee jesus save me save my family save this country from what weve become I can still here god saying thats why im praying LORD WAKE US UP

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Radical Living:

Receive updates on the latest posts as Seth Barnes covers many topics like spiritual formation, what if means to be a christian, how to pray, and more. Radical Living blog is all about a call to excellence in ministry, church, and leadership -as the hands and feet of Jesus.

Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

© Adventures In Missions. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy | RSS Feed | Sitemap