Van Yandell

John 1: 17 “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

Sometimes, change is good. John, in the above scripture, gives us probably the best description in the Bible of what Jesus did for the world. He changed the method of salvation for the Jew from “The Law” to “Grace and Mercy.” He, also, gave eternity to the Gentiles. So, you see, sometimes, change really is good.

Most of us remember world events in our past that were bad. The Kennedy assassination and the Challenger catastrophe are examples. People living in 1941 well remember the Pearl Harbor attack. The Covid 19 pandemic we are now experiencing will live in our memories for many years. September 11, 2001, is without a doubt, such a time.

On that day, life as we knew it changed. Approximately 4,000 aircraft were told to land immediately-anywhere they could. Life stopped, financial markets worldwide ceased trading and people were stranded far from home. Fear, apprehension and questions loomed all over the world. Islamic extremists celebrated, Christians prayed and Jews wondered, “Are we next?”

America came together that September in a patriotic wave not seen since World War 2. American flags were flying. Patriotic songs were written and sung. Church services honored the dead and held prayer vigils for America. We were proud Americans and “they” weren’t going to go unpunished!

Here we are a generation later. Many that were children on 9/11and those not yet born are stomping and burning our precious flag. Communism is being embraced by the uninformed and inexperienced. What a horrible difference nineteen years has made!

Our world was changed in a way that was not good. As a matter of fact, it seemed to be about as bad as it could get, not only for America, but the whole world. At the time we volunteered with a Christian disaster relief unit. I went to work that night wiring a house at Bright Life Farms; life went on as usual, but “as usual” would never be again. The next morning we were called to deploy to New York City with disaster relief.

Staging was in Raritan Valley, New Jersey. I recall the quietness of the days in New Jersey. The first plane I saw fly over was on the fourth day after the attack. I wondered where it was going. It appeared to be descending, so I assumed Newark. Planes had been immediately grounded after the attack.

We crossed the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in the middle of the night going into New York City with the disaster relief unit. It was about one o’clock Saturday morning; all the days ran together after we arrived in New Jersey to wait to be deployed into New York with the mobile kitchen.

As we crossed the bridge, to the north, the Statue of Liberty stood proud. Beyond her, we could see the smoke blowing out over the water from the destroyed twin towers. I remember saying to wife Margie, “Our world is changed forever.” That turned out to be an accurate statement beyond my wildest nightmares.

Our country went to war. It is now 19 years later and that war is still not over. The radical extremists are in this for the duration. They do not care how long it takes; one hundred years, two hundred, it doesn’t matter. Perseverance takes on a whole new meaning with them.

Traveling outside the U.S. has changed. We have come back into the U.S. from overseas numerous times in the last nineteen years. We have been threatened, intimidated, searched, accused of stealing a passport (I asked the agent to scan it again; he did and it was approved), harassed, had things thrown away or confiscated. We’ve been told one thing in JFK and another in MIA airports. The word “debacle” does not adequately describe the process of re-entering the U.S.A.

The foreigners appear to be superficially checked but Americans are vetted extensively. The terrorists scored that point! On any given day 325,000 people enter the U.S. by air. This is not counting those coming in through seaports and across the Canada or Mexico borders.

We were moved from New Jersey and arrived in Brooklyn on Saturday morning about 2 am. We set up the mobile kitchen unit to be ready to prepare breakfast for first responders by morning. The unit was capable of preparing 15,000 meals per day. National Disaster Relief set us up under the Brooklyn Bridge. We camped in a warehouse. It was full of supplies sent in by civic groups, churches, fire departments and many others. We were told there were seven warehouses around the city for storage of the donated supplies. The one under the bridge was the smallest.

We had gone to New York in our Nissan pickup. We were drafted to haul supplies to Ground Zero. The two of us and a fireman from Louisville crammed into the front of the Nissan. Most loads were taken between midnight and dawn. We hauled gloves, coffee, lip balm, side grinders, sledge hammers, cheese crackers, peanut butter and anything else the site workers needed or requested.

We had a little rest time during the days. Most all the work we did was late at night. During the day, barricades were blocking the disaster site three blocks out.

Near ground zero, even after a week or more, there was a smell in the air. Several times we smelled human flesh burning. We could feel the grit in our teeth and I’m sure it was in our lungs. Walking down a street near the site, even at night, I could see thick layers of dust through store windows. We have recently learned many working in the area for as little as one week have developed respiratory problems and cancer. Our firefighter friend from Louisville died of lung cancer in 2007 at age 62.

I’ll never forget the sight of that eight story high pile of rubble. Standing at the base of that pile of twisted steel and pulverized concrete and glass will linger in my mind forever. We will forever have a mind’s eye view of the workers as they exited the site. The totally exhausted and despondent looks on their faces were heartbreaking.

2 Chronicles 7: 14 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

If America is to survive, a revival must begin. A return to God and His values and teachings is essential for our country. America was founded on a belief in Christ Jesus, crucified for the remission of sin and resurrected. The fundamental of the gospel must again be preached and people shown the truth of the Bible.

The September 11, 2001, attack on America, freedom and our way of life, resulted in 2,977 fatalities and more than 25,000 injuries. The long term health effects and political consequences continue. We must never forget!