A Mourning to Remember—20 Years After 9/11

by Mark Looy on September 11, 2021
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Looking back at the events of September 11, 2001, we recount where we were and how God fortified our understanding of how he uses suffering in our lives.

If you’re over the age of 30, you probably remember where you were the morning of September 11, 2001, when you first heard about the hijacking and crashing of four planes by Islamic terrorists and the subsequent deaths of almost 3,000 people.

Around 8:45 a.m. Eastern time, AiG CEO Ken Ham was watching the news on TV and began hearing reports of a plane crashing into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. Watching live just after 9 a.m., Ken was horrified to see a TV camera capture a second plane hitting the south tower of the center. Ken called me at the office and asked me to find a TV and place it in a common area so AiG staff could watch the developments and break for times of group prayer.

Stunned and mourning the terrible loss of life, Ken regained his composure and knew he had to post something right away to the AiG website and offer commentary on what the world was witnessing.

Stunned and mourning the terrible loss of life, Ken regained his composure and knew he had to post something right away to the AiG website and offer commentary on what the world was witnessing. As he wrote, reports came in of two other hijacked planes that had crashed: one into the Pentagon building in Washington, DC, and another into a field in Pennsylvania. Back in New York City, the south tower collapsed, and soon after the north tower fell.

With the downing of four hijacked planes and the loss of so many lives, Ken recalls, “There was a greater urgency to post a web article as quickly as possible, one that would offer an answer to the question, ‘Why does God allow terrorism, suffering, and death in this world?’” In his article, Ken taught from God’s Word in Genesis 3 that we all live in a cursed, fallen world where evil people will do evil things—and that it’s not God’s fault for the world’s evil. Ken closed his web article with the gospel message.

Ken observed,

The tragedy of 9/11 is a reminder of sin in this world and the depths of human depravity. But it can also be a reminder of the only hope we have—Jesus Christ. He took the penalty of death upon himself. Now all who repent and believe in Christ will receive the gift of eternal life.

I helped Ken expand his web article into a witnessing booklet. Within weeks of 9/11, the booklet was distributed by the tens of thousands as church volunteers passed them out throughout New York City. After the 2002 death of his dear brother Robert in Australia from a horrible brain disease, Ken further elaborated on the question of why God permits bad things to happen and wrote the book How Could a Loving God. . . ? With a strong evangelistic comfort for those suffering or grieving, that book has blessed countless readers.

We’ve made a booklet on suffering and death, expanded from the original 2001 booklet, available for free download. You can also read Ken’s book How Could a Loving God. . . ? online for free or purchase a copy to give to others who need these important answers.

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