|Front Row: Ken Jewett, Nina Mock, Rochelle Mock, |
Nicole Raymond, Lisa Jewett
Back Row: Stephanie Greife, Bobby Greife, Justin Overstreet, Rachel Ness
Lindsey McHenry, Travis Aiken, Robbie Burke
|The gang at Carmine's|
This was the first time I had taken a group to the Big Apple since September 11, 2001, and the group was anxious to see Ground Zero. The truth was there was really nothing to see at the actual site. The wreckage of that day had been cleared away, and construction had yet to begin on the new buildings. There was a walkway with signs and pictures that told the story of that horrible day, and we we all moved by the memory. But nothing could have prepared us for our visit to St. Paul's. This tiny little church had served as the "home" for many of the workers who came from all over the country to dig through the wreckage. They would work 16-18 hour shifts in the rubble and then head to the church to grab some food, cry over the things they had witnessed and catch a nap on the pews. By the time we arrived in 2003, the chapel had been turned into a shrine honoring all of those who served and sacrificed so much. There were letters of thanks, balloons, flowers and thousands of hand written signs posted all around the fence outside, and inside you could see evidence of what had taken place. Pews were scarred and battered from where firefighters in full gear had sat in them. A guest book chronicled many of the names of workers who had passed through. There were video interviews with some of the first responders. Many of our group were moved to tears, and most of us found our way into the pews for a few moments of prayer. We were reminded of the words to the Lost And Found song, Lions- "O them lions they can eat my body but they can't swallow my soul..." Jesus was in that place. It was a deeply spiritual experience.
I was a part of a lot of groups that travelled to NYC over the years (to see a slide show with pictures from many of those trips, click here!) and the city never failed to teach us lessons. Whether it was inter-acting with the homeless, feeding the poorest of the poor in the lowest levels of Grand Central Station, talking about curing disease and working for peace at the United Nations or simply dropping $1 in the case of a street saxophone player in -25 degree weather, the city is a mission field. The 2003 trip served as a reminder that the heroic response of so many in NYC to the attacks of 9/11 was never about patriotism. It was about faith, hope and love. 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us that no matter the situation, those three things will remain. A "New York Minute" in a pew in St. Paul's Chapel left that burned on my heart forever. And I suspect I was not alone. Sometimes I think we try too hard to make trips about "mission" or "spirituality" when what we really need to do in just get out of Jesus' way and let him change lives. But that's a rant for a different day. Today, I just praise God for that group and that experience.
Because of Jesus,