“Remember the way He led us up to the top of the highest mountain; Remember the way He carried us through the deepest dark; Remember His promises for every step on the road ahead;
Look where we’ve been and where we’re going…and remember to remember”
On September 14, 2001 I joined my commanding general and military members of the United States Army-Europe at the Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit) in Heidelberg, Germany for a special memorial service to remember the 2,977 people killed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks on our Nation. The local German community gathered to pour out their prayers and loving support for their American family that night, standing in reverent silence as we walked to our seats in the beautiful 15th century church.
I will always remember walking past the huge crowd of German young people outside the church, weeping and conducting their own silent prayer vigil. Remember to remember the power of prayer when you have no other words to speak into a situation. “O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth” (Psalm 54:2, ESV).
Southern Baptist FBI chaplains Richard Sale from South Carolina (d. 2017) and Joe B. Williams from Oklahoma (d. 2016) were the first two non-New York chaplains to enter Ground Zero a few days after 9/11. They ministered to first responders after bodies were recovered from the massive piles of steel and concrete, and at the makeshift morgue where medical personnel attempted to identify the dead.
During a 2011 interview with the South Carolina Baptist Courier, Richard said, “God cried along with everyone else on 9/11. I know God was there (at Ground Zero) and I believe God shed many, many tears in His own way with us.” Remember to remember that the Lord keeps track of all our sorrows. He collects all our tears in a bottle and records each one in a book (Psalm 56:8, NLT).
Twenty years ago SBC Disaster Relief was a growing ministry with fewer volunteers than today. Nevertheless, volunteers arrived on the scene soon after the attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., setting up mobile kitchens and feeding the exhausted relief workers. After the response ended 300 days later, our beloved SBC DR volunteers had fed 1.29 million meals and provided countless ministries at the disaster sites. Remember to remember the words of Jesus, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew, 25:35, ESV).
Endel Lee, National Catalyst for Church Planting Near Military Communities (CPMC) was among the first US military chaplains deployed to Ground Zero. In his own words, “It is often hard to realize 20 years have already passed since those intense moments and days following 9/11, probably because the memories sometimes still make it feel like it was just yesterday. Anticipating the somberness that I associate with the approaching 20th anniversary of 9/11, I cannot help but revisit the numerous images in my memory related to standing in or near the rubble of New York City and the Pentagon in the days and months following this tragic event. Nor can I help but ponder again the devastating loss and soul-wrenching conversations I had as a chaplain seeking to console others whose family members were killed in this attack. I also recall vividly attempting to encourage many among our military ranks to ‘take heart’ and prepare for war, as our Nation and its leaders considered the appropriate responses to such an atrocity.”
Pray for the young men and women of our Armed Services, and our SBC chaplains who serve their religious needs, as they daily provide selfless and sacrificial service to keep people of The United States strong and free. Remember to remember to “pray for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:2, ESV).
Beloved chaplains, thank you for answering the call to the chaplaincy ministry. Your faithful and loving pastoral care to those within your respective institutional settings advances God’s Kingdom purposes daily and is making an eternal difference. Your NAMB Chaplaincy Team remembers to remember you daily as we “pray without ceasing” for you and your families. Grace be with you all!
Published August 26, 2021