Christina Stanton on How I Came to Know the Real Jesus Through 9/11

Brian and Christina Stanton on their 24th floor terrace just two weeks before the 9/11 attacks. The view is the Twin Towers, just six blocks away. | Courtesy of Christina Stanton

In 2001, my husband, Brian, and I lived on the 24th floor of an apartment building six blocks away from the World Trade Center complex. Our home had a 300 square foot terrace that featured a stunning view of the 110-floor Twin Towers directly to the north of us. We’d only been enjoying that view for two months, since July 6, having recently settled into the area as newlyweds. On the morning of September 11th, Brian shook me awake while shouting, “A bomb went off in the World Trade Center!” We rushed onto the terrace and stood staring at the black smoke and destruction caused by the first plane, when out of nowhere, the second plane came roaring overhead and struck the South Tower just 500 feet above us.  We were blown back into our apartment from the impact and knocked unconscious onto the floor of our living room. 

When we came to, we immediately grabbed our dog and evacuated, barefoot and still wearing pajamas. We sought safety in nearby Battery Park, but the nightmare continued. The towers soon fell, covering us with toxic dust and debris, and heavy smoke surrounded us in a deadly cloud. We eventually managed to board a boat headed to New Jersey. We had escaped, but we couldn’t return to our apartment for months. The massive implosion of the Twin Towers had registered on the Richter scale as an earthquake, which meant all buildings near the devastated complex – including ours – had to be tested to determine if they were structurally sound.

“Don’t call us again, we’ll call you when the building has been given the OK for you to return,” our landlord said sharply, tired of hearing from us yet again. We were effectively homeless. Within the span of a few weeks, we had gone from an upwardly mobile Manhattan lifestyle to refugee status, grappling with unemployment, PTSD, and suffering health issues. Just like the new name of the destroyed complex, we had reached our own “Ground Zero”.

America had been the victim of a terrible injustice, and I felt victimized as well. My worldview had been shaken, and I began to lose hope in humanity as I seriously questioned my previous beliefs that everyone was basically good. Our lives had become instantly unrecognizable, and I took all the fear, frustration and uncertainly that most Americans were feeling very personally – as if was being attacked. Losing hope in our future, I sank into a depression.

This state of depression and shock worsened when our dog became sick from licking the toxic dust that had covered his fur when the towers fell. Our veterinary expenses and other mounting bills while we were displaced became a big cause of concern. A close Christian friend had a suggestion: “Redeemer Presbyterian Church created a special 9-11 disaster relief fund, and people from around the world have donated to it. Go get help with your bills; it was intended for people like you!” she urged. People like me?! I identified as a Christian, but my faith was shallow, untested, and compartmentalized. I was a sporadic churchgoer, and that was the extent of my involvement. “But we don’t go to your church!” I protested. “Just go see what they’re offering,” she said, encouragingly.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Christina Stanton