Some indications that God is in total control: A report from
the NYC metro area
As most of you probably know, my wife Kathryn and I reside close enough
the World Trade Center that the twin towers were clearly visible from
Washington Rock in our neighborhood. (It is called Washington Rock because
General George Washington used that site in the late 1770s to observe
movements of British troops throughout large portions of this area.) On
Tuesday, the day of the disaster, we were at Washington Rock at about 1:30
pm, and saw the huge column of smoke billowing from the site of the disaster
and stretching down a large portion of the New Jersey coast as far as Long
Branch and beyond.
The radio reports today (Thursday, Sept. 13) indicated that, as
far as is now known, the number of missing and dead is at approximately five
thousand. The World Trade Center on any given work day was generally
populated by approximately 55,000 office workers, not including visitors,
clients, and sightseers. This means that it is possible that more than
ninety percent of the people were successfully evacuated prior to the
collapse of the two towers. While this fact is of little help to those who
didn't make it or to their loved ones, it was of tremendous benefit to the
ninety percent who did escape and for their families.
It may also be that God kept a large number of people away from the
disaster, who ordinarily should have been there on the job. Yesterday
evening, at our chapel meeting at Somerset Christian College (formerly known
as Zarephath Bible Institute), our student government chaplain, Cathy
Thompson-Fix, said that earlier in the day, when she had spoken to a group
of people who had worked at the World Trade Center, approximately fifteen of
them said that they wanted to get to work on time on Tuesday morning,
September 11, but various circumstances detained them despite their best
efforts to arrive at work on time.
In one case, an individual was taking his daughter to school prior to
leaving for the World Trade Center, and as they arrived at the school, the
girl realized that she had forgotten her schoolbooks. He took her to their
home to get her books, and returned her to the school. As a result, he
missed his train and had to take a ferry to southern Manhattan. Halfway to
the destination, he witnessed the first plane crash of the disaster. He was
then very glad that he had been late.
Another individual, on her way to work, felt an irresistible urge to
for coffee, which she had never done before in all of her years as a
commuter. She stopped for coffee, and this made her just late enough to
avoid the disaster.
Cathy said that she talked to about thirteen others with similar stories.
Cathy said that she also learned that one individual was on the 102nd floor
of one of the towers when it collapsed floor by floor, and that he survived
the rapid floor by floor descent with only a broken leg, and no further
Another student in the chapel service, Dan Croson, said that on Monday
evening he had a long conversation with a friend which lasted so late into
the night that this friend was very late leaving for work at the World Trade
Center the following morning, Sept. 11. This was one time when he was very
glad he was late, since he missed being caught in the explosions and
collapse of the buildings.
On the other hand, we know others who are still missing, including the
of one of the leaders the local Fish organization, a Christian organization
that has supplied food, clothing, and housing to the needy in our area for a
number of decades.
Nevertheless, my purpose in writing is to provide a variety of indications
that God remains active, even in the midst of horror. It is my
understanding that the construction of the two towers of the World Trade
Center was unique in at least two respects. First, due to the redundancies
in the way the two towers were built, they were among the very few buildings
in the world that could withstand the impacts that they received (although
eventually they could not withstand the heat of the blasts that they
received, which melted the steel at about 1600 degrees Fahrenheight, causing
the collapse of the buildings). Just about any other kind of building would
likely have collapsed immediately. This provided time for many people to
get out before the towers collapsed. Secondly, the towers were constructed
differently from most other buildings in that each floor was attached to an
outer prefabricated skeleton. This outer skeleton is what supported the
building. Because of this construction design, the towers, in turn, fell
vertically upon themselves, floor by floor. As a result of this, the
buildings were not toppled over onto huge sections of the surrounding area.
If that had happened, there could have been two results. First, there could
have been a domino effect, causing a series of buildings to fall throughout
Manhattan. Equally importantly, if the two towers had not been somewhat
self-contained in the way they collapsed, the toppled towers would have
spread burning debris very far and wide, causing dangerous fires throughout
huge sections of New York City.
None of this reduces the magnitude of what has actually happened both
and in Washington, D.C. But it does indicate that things could very easily
have been much, much worse.
But regardless of anything else, Romans 8:28 is part of Scripture, and
such, cannot be broken.
Thanks so much for all of your prayers on our behalf!
With warm personal greetings to all of you in the Lamb,
Richard M. Riss
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