Friday, May 10, 2002

My wife had plans for that particular Saturday. And, I was busy working with our high school football team. But all that changed really fast. A friend came running to get me because our then 12-year-old son had injured himself playing a pickup game of football in the park. As I arrived at the field, he came walking up to me holding one arm, breaking my heart with the most pained and pitiful look I think I've ever seen in his big blue eyes. One glance told me that he had broken his arm - it was protruding grotesquely. And, needless to say, our plans for that day went out the window. There was something much more important to do. We had a broken son.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

Only four people survived above the 78th floor on that awful September 11, when a hijacked jetliner struck the south tower of the World Trade Center. Two of those were in a group of six that were on the 84th floor, right in the middle of where the plane crashed into the building. The six men ran to the stairwell and started that long trip down. At the 81st floor, they met a woman who said, "You can't go down. The floors below are in flames. We have to get above the smoke and fire." The six coworkers debated whether to go up or down. Four decided to climb up, hoping for a helicopter to rescue them from the roof. They could not have known that the rooftop doors were locked, and the roof was smothered in smoke. Their other two colleagues continued down, heading right into the dense smoke that had made others turn back. They struggled to breathe, but thankfully that smoke lasted only a floor or two. They were the last people who got out of the south tower alive. Their friends didn't make it.

Thursday, March 21, 2002

Bessie, one of the cows on the small farm where my wife grew up, was ready to give birth to a calf. But somehow she managed to get out of the wire fence and wander off into the woods to have her calf where she wanted to. Which meant my wife's dad - and his two girls - had to go out into the dark woods that night to try to find them. Dad decided they could cover more ground by dividing up. They were to fire three shots if they found Bessie. Unfortunately, they only had one lantern - and my wife didn't have it. What she remembers is how scary it was to be walking alone in those dark hills, not knowing if there was a panther, a bobcat, or a poisonous snake within striking distance in the dark. Finally, Dad fired those three victorious shots in the air - he had found Bessie and baby. But only after a walk in the dark that one young girl would never forget.

Monday, March 18, 2002

He had been a stock boy in a grocery store ... and then one of those rare football players who isn't drafted but just shows up one day and gets a job. Kurt Warner went on, of course, to become the quarterback of the St. Louis Rams, leading them to the Super Bowl two out of three years ... and, of course, becoming the NFL's Most Valuable Player. Now, that would be enough for most people. But not for Kurt Warner. He's got a bigger goal - at least according to what he told Sports Illustrated he would like as what he called his "football epitaph" - "Used his football platform to work for Jesus."

Friday, March 15, 2002

It seems as if almost no one could foresee the impending collapse of energy giant, Enron. People continued to invest in Enron right up to the announcement of their financial crisis. Many of their employees have been seriously hurt by the possible loss of their retirement funds they had invested in the company. Many outside investors have lost everything they invested. One news report indicated that virtually all investment analysts were recommending investing in Enron almost to the end. The scope of the financial disaster may be unfolding for years. Who could have guessed that this seemingly rock-solid investment could turn out to be worth nothing in the end?

Eric Liddell is one of my heroes. His amazing Olympic triumph in the 400-meter event in the 1924 Olympics was dramatized in the Academy Award winning movie, "Chariots of Fire". The movie also portrayed his strong commitment to Jesus Christ and his uncompromising stand against running on Sunday, which he believed to be a violation of keeping that day holy. He was a man of conviction, of incredible inner strength, and of really muscular faith. Well, years later, he would die for his Lord as a missionary to China. I've just finished his biography which, of course, tells much more about his whole life than the movie did.

Friday, March 8, 2002

Nathan Chapman was the first American soldier killed by hostile fire in Afghanistan. He was one of America's elite Green Berets, on a strategic mission in dangerous territory when he died. I had a chance to watch some of the memorial service in his honor. The chapel was crowded with grim-faced Special Forces soldiers and many who loved this man. He had been there, serving his country, in some of the most difficult assignments of the last decade, including Panama and Haiti and Afghanistan. During the service, he was greatly praised by those who knew him, including references to the fact that he was a follower of Jesus Christ. Several of them cited Nathan Chapman's personal motto - one he lived by volunteering to go where he felt he could make the greatest difference. His motto was only five words but still very challenging: "Stand up and do something!"

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

There are so many stories that put a face on the World Trade Center tragedy of September 11, 2001. I saw a particularly moving first-person story of one woman who miraculously survived the collapse of the North Tower that awful day. She tried to make her way down the long stairwell from her office on the 64th floor, and she made it to the 13th floor. That's when the entire tower began to crumble. She fell to the ground as the building continued to collapse around her. She dropped thirteen floors and ended up with her head pinned between two concrete pillars, her legs trapped in a staircase. She said, "I saw that no one came, and I wasn't hearing any noises around me. So I thought, 'I'm going to die here. I'm going to see myself slowly die here.'"

The young mother prayed, slept, prayed some more - at one point, asking God for a miracle. That's when she heard noises. She yelled out, and someone answered back. She had been trapped under tons of debris for 27 hours. Here's how she described what happened next: "I took a piece of concrete and I knocked the stair above me. And then they heard the knocking, and then they started to come closer. And then I put my hands through a little crack in the ceiling, and I felt the person hold my hand. The fireman found my hand and he said, 'I've got you.' And I said, 'Thank God.'" She was the last person pulled alive from the wreckage.

Wednesday, February 6, 2002

It's probably a common term in the military, but I had never heard it until I saw an interview with some American soldiers working to establish an air base at Kandahar in Afghanistan. They were busy finding and clearing land mines, repairing and expanding the runway - and, at the same time, carefully defending their perimeter. The soldiers pointed out that there were still Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters hiding out - and waiting for an opportunity to do some serious damage. That's when one soldier referred to what he called "high value targets". He said the enemy still had the capability to take out some "high value target" like an incoming aircraft, for example.

Friday, February 1, 2002

We had seen some very painful scenes at Ground Zero in the rubble of the World Trade Center -- firemen, policemen, emergency personnel, combing through the wreckage for their fallen brothers and sisters. Later, pausing for a moment of silent tribute as the remains of one of them was carried out. But at a time when there was talk of reducing the number of workers at the site, we saw a scene that was painful in a different way. Tempers flared in the raw emotions of that moment, and some of those firefighters and police who had been fighting together to save or find people in the rescue and recovery effort were suddenly fighting with one another at Ground Zero.

            

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