As a card-carrying member of the largest generation known as the Baby Boomers, I can remember where I was when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. I was in the sixth grade, and my teacher was leading the class in a discussion when another teacher entered the room and whispered to her a message. My teacher was in the late stages of a pregnancy, I was shocked when I saw her leap to her feet and walk over to the newly-displayed television and turn to the breaking news comments of Walter Cronkite. This was the first time I had ever witnessed a news anchor becoming emotional as he reported on current events. Walter Cronkite declared in a choked and somber voice, “The president is dead.”
I also have distinct recollections of the moon landing in July of 1969. I was thrilled to see Neil Armstrong leave his spacecraft to walk on the moon and then utter the now famous words, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. Sadly, I can vividly recall President Richard Nixon offering his resignation in August 1974. In his transparent extemporaneous comments, Nixon spoke of his humble socio-economic background and his own tendencies to seek revenge in politics. His statement: “Don’t ever hate anyone, for when you do they win” was most telling. The end of the 1970s arguably began the War on Terror with the Iranian hostage crisis. I was leading in a revival effort in Birmingham when I learned of the seizure of the American embassy in Teheran in the month of November of 1979. Since that date the US and the other democracies, have been impacted by the radical elements of Islamic fundamentalism which have become so familiar to us today.
Who can forget the scenes of destruction and mayhem etched in our memories we simply describe as 911? September 11, 2001 will be a lasting recollection for multiple generations. As we approach the fifth anniversary of this terrible cataclysmic event we would do well to reflect on a couple of salient truths. First, personal security is elusive. In our time, we highly value a sense of security. We speak often of Homeland Security and Social Security. As Baptists, we traditionally hold to an understanding of the Biblical doctrine of eternal security. However, in the truest sense of the word, security in this world can not be fully realized as it relates to personal safety. Our security is found in the Lord not in ourselves or in our way of life. The events of 911 remind us of just how vulnerable we are to the machinations of evil doers.
This fifth anniversary of 911 can also remind us that personal service is essential. The heroic actions of fire fighters, police officers and other public servants — as well as private citizens on this dreadful day of terror — are a source of encouragement to us as servants of the Lord. We are truly on a rescue mission as Christians. Our challenge is to help people to find eternal safety in Christ. Sure there are things we can do to assist people in practical ways during times of crisis, such as disaster relief efforts following hurricanes like Katrina, but my prayer is that we never forget our mission of “rescuing the perishing and caring for the dying.” That is exactly what being a Great Commission Christian with an Acts 1:8 strategy means. May we never forget that call and commission in a 911 world. This is an eventful day we should never forget as Christians seeking to relate to people in a treacherous and dangerous time.