September 11th Stories of Faith, Hope and Love: "Al Braca on the 105th Floor of Tower One"
September 11th Stories of Faith, Hope & Love: "I'll Go! How Al Serino Ended up at Ground Zero"

September 11th Stories of Faith, Hope & Love: "On the Pile with Richie."

911jp_at_gz_2_1“Are you with the chaplains too?” 

I turned around to see a fireman standing next to his partner who we had just given a sticker of an American flag to.  The flags, just the right size for a hardhat, said, “I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds tomorrow.  The Lord Reigns!”  The workers on the “pile,” as the workers referred to the rubble, eagerly received those flags.  Inside of Ground Zero dozens of steelworkers, firefighters and rescue workers were wearing  the flag with the "The Lord Reigns" on their hardhats. “Yea I am, I'm with the chaplains,” I told the abrupt firefighter.  Standing there on the rubble of the World Trade Towers and the associated buildings he motioned with his hands pointing to all the destruction and asked, “Then why did God do this?”

Richie was angry and confused.  An officer from his station had lost his life responding to the first alarm. I told Richie that it wasn’t God who had done this but that it was the work of evil men. He responded sharply to that with, “Yea. The free will thing, right?” I told him yes that was true, that people had willingly done this senseless and evil act.

As he continued to press the questions about others and their evil deeds the other chaplain I was with stepped in between us.  He asked Richie,  “What about you?  What about your family?  Who is teaching them about God?  Who is teaching them about Jesus Christ?  Are you?  If not you then who?”  Richie sheepishly admitted that no neither he nor anyone else was teaching his family and children about God’s love.

My friend asked Richie if he wanted to be the kind of man that taught his children about God.  “I would like that yes,” Richie responded.  “Well how are you going to do that if you don’t know Jesus Christ yourself?”  Richie with his head down said, “I really don’t know.”  “Richie, would you like to know Jesus Christ, would you like to have your sins forgiven and become the man you really want to be?”  Richie melted, looked up slowly and said, “Yes I would like that.”

After some talk Richie was bowing his head in prayer in front of his partner asking Jesus Christ to come into his life.  Right there on the pile!

Gz_helmet_flag (pictured above Gerry Brown, chaplain and director of U-Turn for Christ and Joe Paskewich, chaplain and pastor of Calvary Chapel in Uncasville, CT, ministering on "the pile" not far from where we met Richie.  To the left is the flag sticker we were giving out to Ground Zero rescue workers, steelworkers, firefighters and police officers. Click on the pictures to enlarge them.



This is truly Isaiah 61:3 in the literal sense:

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair.

In the midst of that pile of ashes, there was Jesus offering all His beauty. What a faithful and merciful God we serve.

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