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9/11: Pain, Ashes and Hope Eleven Years Later

It astounds me that it has already been eleven years since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Never before have three numbers defined our country in such a tragic way.

I was in a Starbucks when I heard “something tragic was happening in New York City.” I rushed home in time to see the second plane crash into the south tower. Still confused, I don’t think I realized the gravity of the entire terrorist attack until those beautiful towers fell straight down into a pile of pulverized fragments and blew ghost-like grayish white dust on the fleeing people below. Those poor people covered in this dust of death looked like we felt as a nation: dazed, scared and confused.

Then I heard about the Pentagon and what happened in a field in Pennsylvania … and I, along with the rest of America, cried.

This tragedy shocked me and then rocked me. I suddenly realized that we had a conference scheduled that weekend. 9-11 happened on a Tuesday and on that Friday thousands of teenagers were scheduled to show up at the Magness Arena in Denver, Colorado for a Dare 2 Share conference.

To be honest, we wrestled whether or not to cancel the event altogether. America was in shock. Teens were scared. Parents were nervous. And, beyond all that, the officials at Magness Arena told us that they may have to cancel the event. The city, state and nation were on unofficial lockdown. Nobody wanted to gather in large groups, especially at a time of such nervous uncertainty.

After praying through it we decided to go ahead with the event and make it a time of healing, prayer and encouragement. The officials balked at first but we strongly encouraged them that teens needed to rally not hide during this time. They finally agreed, albeit reluctantly, and the program went on.

That Friday night at Dare 2 Share was a burst of relief and healing for teenagers from all over Colorado and surrounding states. We interceeded for our nation. We prayed for the victims families. We spread the good news of Jesus at a time when people were jolted with the reality of their need of Him.

As I think back to 9/11 I’m still in shock. It’s still hard for me to believe that this terrorist act of such devastating proportions actually took place on American soil. Every time I see the horrific reruns of those planes flying into the Twin Towers I get a muffled version of the cringe I felt in my gut in that moment I saw it on television for the first time.

What are the lessons? I think they are the same from eleven years ago on the Friday night at Dare 2 Share. We need to rally to pray for our country. We need to remember to pray for the victims’ families. And, last but not least, we need to relentlessly share the message of hope with those around us.

May our churches, youth groups and lives be beacons of hope in a nation still covered in the ghostly white ash of this horrible memory.