Last year, on the eve of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, NRT gathered together thoughts from various Christian artists who were asked to reflect on the moment in history that changed the world we live in forever.
Anyone who was old enough to understand the gravity of the events that unfolded on September 11, 2001 in New York City can recall exactly where they were, what they were doing and who they were with during that time in history, just as if it were yesterday. And here we are, ten years later, still attempting to make sense of the madness. Searching for ways to find closure. Hungry to never forget, yet passionate to see our lives move forward towards a better tomorrow.
There are few moments in history that bind humanity together like this. What was designed in the minds of madmen to tear apart, shatter hope and confuse faith has done just the opposite for the majority of us. Our nation, and the world, came together through mourning. Our hope in tomorrow, while shaken, ultimately grew stronger and for those of us who had faith before, found us leaning on that faith even more for the support to get through the day.
On Sunday, September 11, 2011, the world will remember, once again, how a nation came together. Rebuilding is in process. Memories are finally getting a permenant resting place. And the vow to "never forget" remains as strong today as it was the day after in the midst of smoldering ash and debris.
NewReleaseTuesday.com gathered together thoughts from various Christian artists who were asked to reflect on this moment. Here's what they shared with us.
Go back to September 11, 2011. Can you recall what you were doing when you first heard the news and how your day progressed after that?
Jason Gray: I was on a vacation with my in-laws in Hawaii. We were halfway through our time there when it happened and everything just shut down as everybody was glued to their TV sets watching the horror unfold. Afterwards, the beaches were empty as I believe nobody felt it was right to enjoy the paradise around them during such a grave time for our nation. It was especially sad to be in such a beautiful place away from home when such an ugly thing defaced the world.
Denise Jones, Point Of Grace: I was at home in Nashville and it was a routine morning. I had got my kids ready and out the door for school. I had headed out into my neighborhood for a little jog before heading to my office for a tour meeting. My neighbor frantically pulled over as he drove by and screamed, "I can't believe it! Have you seen the news?" Of course, I hadn't even turned the TV on and I had no idea what he was talking about. Needless to say, I went back home and tried getting as much information I could before heading into town. Our Free to Fly tour was supposed to leave the next weekend. As I sat there with the other girls in our manager's office that day, we watched the news and discussed what we should do. Our country was afraid and hurt. I remember thinking that it was "this season" that we would be able to use our music to encourage and give hope to many [and we decided the show must go on]!
Daniel Biro, Hawk Nelson: I was a kid just out of high school, working at Old Navy in my hometown of Barrie, Ontario, Canada when the disjointed news starting rolling in. Shock, fear and talk of war were all around. That was soon replaced with information and our new found education on terrorism.
Montell Jordan: I was with my wife in Hoboken, NJ. We were awakened by a phone call from a minister at the time who said she had a dream about the safety of our unsigned recording artists who were flying from Atlanta to NY earlier that morning. We turned on the TV to CNN just moments before an airplane struck tower #2. We were terrified as phone lines went down shortly after and for the next few hours we could hear airplanes and helicopters circling low overhead. We watched the day's tragic events on the news and from across the river where we could actually see the towers before the fall. We remained stranded in NY until Friday when we rented a minivan and all returned to Atlanta.
Brittany Hargest: Before the attacks on 9/11, I was a thirteen-year old girl in Jump5, touring the country and feeling on top of the world. In fact, the only thing that I was truly concerned with before that day was how close I was to getting my braces off. I was even on a Radio Disney tour that just so happened to stop in New York City a few days before September 11, getting the opportunity to sight-see for a little bit that included visits to the Empire State Building along with the World Trade Center. But on the actual day of attacks, I was in Nashville on my way to our little Jump5 School, (we were all homeschooled together by a tutor) thinking only about how later that day my braces would finally be coming off. That’s when my brother and I heard on a morning radio show how one of the towers had been hit.
Sam Allen, No Other Name: My sister, Laura and I had been having car problems and I was taking her to work when we heard the news on the radio. For the first few minutes, the details were sketchy and I had reassured myself that it was simply an accident. But as I was leaving her office, reports began coming in that the Pentagon had been struck and it became increasingly obvious that we were under attack. Just before I arrived home, the newscaster on the radio began screaming and I was able to vaguely understand that one of the towers had fallen. I remember having a sense of panic come over me and I literally went weak all over my body. It's a miracle that the car didn't veer off the road. I went to work later that day after watching news coverage, calling loved ones, praying and crying. I heard the list of churches having vigils and prayer services being read aloud on the radio and it never seemed to end. I remember talking to my mother that evening and she said "I'm afraid America will never be the same." And she was right.
Laura Allen, No Other Name: My first emotion on that Tuesday morning was panic. Who is doing this? Why? What else do they have planned? How many will die before it's over? I was struck to the core to think how vulnerable we really were. How could this have happened here? Before long, the panic turned to grief. I grieved for the victims, their families and our nation.
Jessa Anderson: I still vividly remember hearing the words, "Today is a day you are going to remember for the rest of your lives," as our high school guidance counselor entered the classroom on September 11th, 2001. It was early and we still weren't sure what had happened exactly. We found out the "bombs" were really planes. I thought about my aunt and her family in New York City and my dad, who was supposed to be flying somewhere that morning. My dad's plane was grounded. My uncle watched 9/11 unravel from his window across the street from the World Trade Center. I experienced 9/11 from behind a television screen, through phone calls where I learned that everyone was safe and through teachers and guidance counselors trying their best to maintain composure in chaos.
Mikey Howard, 7eventh Time Down: September 11, 2001 is a day I will remember for the rest of my life. I was a senior in high school working a co-op program at a local hospital. Everyone in the hospital gathered around any TV they could see and watched in horror as the events unfolded. I think the word that really summed up the day is questions. Everyone, including myself, had them. Why had this happened? Who did it? How can we retaliate? When will it end? Are my loved ones ok? Everyone had questions that day. Some of which are still unclear or remain unanswered.
How has your faith been shaped by these events?
Jason Gray: I think it begs certain thorny theological questions like, "Where is God when evil appears to rule the day?" We've been fairly insulated in our culture from terrorism and that level of evil, and so we've never had to wrestle with the question of God's sovereignty like we did after 9/11. For me personally, it provoked questions and theological study that I'm still engaged in 10 years later. I still don't have a satisfying answer, but that's part of it too, isn't it? The way tough questions humble and temper answers we might otherwise give too easily.
Denise Jones, Point Of Grace: Events such as this have brought me closer to God. Even though I wanted to squeeze my family a little tighter and protect them, I realized that He is bigger than all of this. Ultimately, I was not in control of my life.
Daniel Biro, Hawk Nelson: I have to believe that there's more going on than merely what our eyes see, more than our life experiences. There's an eternal-view from Gods perspective that has spanned far beyond the lives of humanity. Far beyond the hate and ignorance of this world. He has had to endure it all. He has remained constant through it all, never changing. Love. The solid rock on which we all can stand, in good times or bad. Because His Word tells of these events, the ones that haunt us and our fellow human history.
Montell Jordan: I believe the world was dramatically changed by those events, yet my personal faith and walk with Christ has been determined by my growth and relationship with God internally, more than world events externally. The events of 9/11 were definitely a reminder that tomorrow is never promised to us and that we are living in the last days the Bible prophetically teaches us about.
Brittany Hargest: At the time, I remember thinking about how blessed that all of my family and friends were home safe, but then immediately turned to God for guidance. I went through a mixture of emotions, as I’m sure most thirteen-year old girls did. I was shaken that something so awful could hit so close to home, angry and wondering why such a horrible thing could happen, but still trying to hold on to the fact that God is always good because He cannot be anything else. I knew that this would test everyone’s faith in His perfect will, especially mine, and that if I hadn’t put all of my trust completely in Him yet, then I would need to now. I decided right then to never doubt His plans, but instead to rest my faith in the future that He has in store for all of us.
Sam Allen, No Other Name: My faith is in the one who created the universe and who holds the world in the palm of His hand. He wasn't surprised by these events. My faith was not shaken by these events but rather, it was a reminder that there is evil in the world because of fallen man. And I'd rather be part of the solution than part of the problem. What a wake-up call!
What impact, if any, does this event hold for the Christian faith?
Jason Gray: Crisis always provides an opportunity for the church to reveal Jesus. Forgiveness is the cornerstone of the Christian faith and grace is what sets us apart from every other religion. It seems to me in the post September 11th reality that forgiveness and grace is what the world needs most. It just so happens that we know where to go to find the power to bring that kind of Kingdom come. Will we, though? Will the church of Jesus Christ lead the charge? It's harder for us if we're focused on preserving our earthly Kingdoms, it's easier if our hearts are aimed at advancing God's Kingdom. I have a friend who is a minister and who is Arab looking. He is routinely singled out and treated with suspicion--this is unfortunate and inconsistent with the Christian virtues America was founded upon.
Denise Jones, Point Of Grace: Many people were affected by September 11th. It made me see that this world is hurting in so many ways. Hate, poverty, loss, abandonment makes huge holes in the world. As the 10th anniversary was coming up, we decided to record "Hole In The World" for that very reason. From our Christian viewpoint, God is the only one who can fill these holes, but he can use his people to help do that. As I watched the people in America suffer from this tragedy, I also saw many rise up to fill in the gaps, stand strong together and find hope in the darkness by looking to Jesus.
Daniel Biro, Hawk Nelson: Nowhere in the Bible does it say we are exempt from trials that will come. But His promise is that He will never leave us or forsake us. I have to cling to those words when everything I know is falling apart.
Montell Jordan: I feel the same today as 10 years ago. Our trust and faith cannot be placed in a world leader, or an army, or the capture of a terrorist, or TSA, or a Patriot Act, or any of the measures we have taken to make us feel safer. The Bible instructs us that things will not get better, but only worse; yet it also promises us that we have a freedom in Christ that allows us to walk and live in Victory, and not in fear… no matter how much worse our world begins to digress. God’s word declares that God did not give us the spirit of fear, but of peace and a sound mind. If we are living in fear, then we are not leaning on God.
Sam Allen, No Other Name: I hope that it reminds us just how helpless we are without God's protection. I think Proverbs 21:31 says it best: "The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD." How true that is. It doesn't matter how strong our military is. It doesn't matter how good our intelligence is. It doesn't matter how well funded our defense is. If we put our trust in anyone but the Lord, it is misplaced.
Laura Allen, No Other Name: I had a lot of questions after 9/11. Everyone had questions. And to my amazement, many turned to God for the answers. Churches were filled and conversations often turned to spiritual things. It reminded me how uncertain people really are. When their self-made foundation crumbles, they search for one that's eternal. Unfortunately, many did not continue their search for the eternal after those first few fearful weeks after 9/11. After life calmed down and the world got back to "normal," they just reconstructed their own little foundations. But the gut reaction that so many had to such an event should serve to remind Christians what people are really looking for. After all, it doesn't always take an act of war to shake someone's world. Major, earth-shattering tragedies happen in individual lives every day. And it's up to us to help seekers find the answers.
Do you have any reflections on the past decade as we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11?
Jason Gray: I think Americans caught a glimpse of our own frailty--that things we hoped could protect us may not be as certain as we had hoped. With that comes a self-consciousness and fear that blames and demonizes, that wants revenge. But it can also provide us with humility and opportunities to put our hope in another Kingdom as we learn that this earthly one--as good as it is--is unable to provide us with the certainty, peace, and protection we hoped for.
Denise Jones, Point Of Grace: A lot has changed in the last 10 years. Security at airports, the nation’s economy, hurricanes and flooding. In the toughest of times, I am proud that our country still stands together and helps each other. Those are characteristics of the God that I serve and I'm proud to say that to me, our country still believes that "In God We Trust!"
Daniel Biro, Hawk Nelson: Our lives of peace, but also ignorance to the realities of the East was interrupted that day, opened to pain and hatred like never before. My generation had felt the shift of possibility, and has thus created our new Worldview. My prayers are with the families of those who went to the other side of eternity that day. Let us remember that they are the ones who see the bigger picture now, anxiously awaiting to share with us all their excitement, revelation and hope.
Montell Jordan: The world around us has changed. The way we travel has been altered, the way we view other countries and their religious beliefs is now more relevant to us as a nation, and our personal safety as Americans is constantly questioned following 911. I think we have found since then that there are those living within our country who are willing to compromise the safety of Americans just as much as those outside our country who despise our freedoms. We have seen terror from both outside and inside our nation over the past 10 years. For some, using airplanes as weapons is terror; I submit that stealing the life savings and futures of working people should not only be considered terrorism, but torture as well.
Manafest: I'm honored to now live in the United States and hope I can give back to a great nation which has inspired me so much. The USA is great because we will never give up!
Sam Allen, No Other Name: Like many tragedies or hardships, people who are effected by them, either directly or indirectly, stop being petty. We've all been there. If there's a terrible accident or natural disaster or some event like 9/11, people suddenly remember the things that are important. Cynicism is replaced by understanding. reediness is replaced by charity. People simply become kinder. It's amazing that for a brief period, we treat each other the way God intended for us to treat each other. I wish that we could live each day like that.
Jessa Anderson: I have no personal stories of heartache or loss. Except, I do. We all do. As followers of Christ, each human life is of utmost value to us all, not just to the family and friends of the loved and lost. As followers of Christ, each moment of devastation is an invitation to find shelter in the strong tower of Jesus' name and each interaction an opportunity to share the gospel we love so dearly. 9/11 changed our country. It changed us. Ten years later, it is just as important, just as urgent, just as vital to respond. To respond with broken hearts for the hurting and to extend our hands in remembrance and support. To respond with the love of Christ and the grace of His gospel. To respond to hearts and lives forever changed, and to share news of a God who is unchanging, as we remember together.
Mikey Howard, 7eventh Time Down: Amidst all the rubble, ash and uncertainly and with all of our questions, I saw the people of America cling to the gospel of Jesus like never before. Communities were coming together, families that were once at each other's throats set aside differences and hearts that were broken got mended. In the middle of all the loss and awfulness, we felt the love of God in new and amazing ways. Some of us felt the love of God for the very first time. So as we continue to move forward from the events and heartbreak of 9/11, may we remember to look for the power and love of a mighty God in the times when we have nothing but questions and uncertainty. May we cling to the promises of our father most in those times so we might experience His love in new and mighty ways. My heart and prayers are with all of those who lost loved ones on 9/11. May the peace and love of Jesus be with you all during this time of reflection and remembrance.
Nick De Partee, Kutless: I think the one thing that stands out brightest in my memory from 9/11 is how strong the presence of God was in our nation at that time of tragedy. Even in one of our country's darkest hours, God shown his light of hope through the unity of all Americans helping each other rebuild. My prayer to this day is that we, as a Nation, will never forget this tragedy, and more so, never forget the God that gave us a hope to live for beyond the tragedies of this life. We are, after all...One Nation, Under God.