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9/11 Special Broadcast

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
September 10, 2021 2:00 am

9/11 Special Broadcast

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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September 10, 2021 2:00 am

Tune in as Skip looks back on the events of that day and the days following, including how the Lord brought an opportunity for him to serve at Ground Zero.

This teaching is from the series 9/11 Special Broadcast.




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We got sucker punched and, you know, the reaction of people in a time of crisis is to look up, to ask why, why would God allow it, but then to also lean on God for strength as our refuge and our strong tower.

There are so many great promises of that. So, yeah, we as a nation were sort of jolted into a new reality and it caused us, ever so briefly, but it caused us to look up and to trust in God. Twenty years ago, on September 11, 2001, America was rocked by the unthinkable, a terrorist attack that brought down the World Trade Center towers in New York City. Skip Heitzig was more than a spectator of this horror in Manhattan, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania.

Skip spent three weeks at Ground Zero as a chaplain. Today, we present a special program as Skip sits down with Chip Lusko for a conversation about his observations and experiences surrounding the national trauma of 9-11 and the events that have followed him. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the crossing.

Cast all burdens on his word. Make a connection, a connection. Now let's go into the studio with Skip for this discussion of the aftermath around the 20th anniversary of 9-11. With Skip, we're approaching the 20th anniversary of the tragic events of 9-11.

Hard to believe. Hard to believe it's been 20 years. And as we come to that anniversary, now we've had a remarkable change of events politically and socially and internationally with Afghanistan. And I'm not really here to address the social and political. My question to you is, what are your concerns about the church and the Christians today in Afghanistan?

It's the same concerns I had 20 years ago, so I do feel on an emotional level that the wound, the scar, the scab has been peeled back. I think we feel that collectively as a culture, those of us who remember September 11th and what was going on in Afghanistan with the Taliban. What's sad is many of the people in that country don't remember the Taliban.

The average age in that country is 18. So they weren't around when the Taliban was there. They know freedom.

They know a structure. They know the Americans and coalition of people helping them. So suddenly they're faced with a reality that we've heard about on the other side of the world and collectively we know about, but they have not experienced until now. And sadly, many of those are allies with us, not just politically, but spiritually speaking, they're believers in Christ. There are churches in that country, though it's a difficult country to be a believer in. There are believers there.

And every believer that I've had contact with is in fear because of what has happened, is happening, and what they think will get much worse. So fortunately, we at Reload Love, which is an arm of this ministry we highly endorse and support, has been reaching out to Afghan refugees, those who have been extracted to help with their children, to help needs, critical needs. The Bible tells us to be ready to meet urgent needs. We do it in the name of Christ. We've been raising money for that. And I'm glad to say that we can pray, but we can do more than pray.

We can put feet on our prayer and hands to our prayers and help out and reach out. You make a great point. As there are Afghanis who aren't aware of what happened in 2001, there are many Americans who weren't even born at that time. So are they aware of the impact, the ripples, the Pearl Harbor moment that our generation had?

Yes and no. They know about it historically because we as a country are trying hard not to let them forget. When I was born, Pearl Harbor was over.

It was done. It happened 14 years before I was born. So it was sort of like, you know, it was ancient history to me at that point.

2,403 people lost their lives that day, and 405,000 Americans died in World War II. So that was something very fresh in the mind of America, though for me as a kid, it wasn't that big of a deal. I heard about it.

It was moving to me. I liked seeing what was happening in the ceremonies of Pearl Harbor. And they ran specials every year, but like that, 9-11 is something we have to prepare each generation to never forget. And I've stood in Pearl Harbor.

I've stood very moving on the deck of the ship where Surrender, the article of Surrender, the instrument of Surrender was signed. But September 11th was different, and it's different for me because I did live through it, as did you. But it is something that is becoming the next Pearl Harbor for the generation that didn't know it. So let's go back to that day, and 9-11, your first impression, your first observations.

Oh, disbelief, shock. I thought at first it was an accident. I, like most people, saw that there was something going on in a tower, a plume of smoke, an airplane went in.

Most people thought it was a small plane. I remember getting a phone call from my wife, Lenya. I was taking my son, Nate, to school. It was a Tuesday.

I'll never forget it. And I got a phone call that a plane went into the Trade Center, and at that point they were already talking about the possibility of it being terrorism. So I went on the radio and dropped my son off at school, and then I went to my office and turned the TV on.

The TV stayed on all that day and all that night. So I remember when we finally found out that morning that it was a terror event that we went here. I went to this studio, this radio station, at noon and announced to the community what was going on. We talked briefly about it. We prayed on the air, and we announced that we're having a citywide prayer meeting at our church that night, which was not a church night.

Tuesday night was not, but it was packed, and rightfully so. But I knew that morning in the radio station, I knew what that meant. I knew that secularists were going to use this event as the argument against fundamentalism. Look, this is what religion will do. This is what belief in God is capable of doing. It's done it through history. It's done it again. And I just knew that was coming, and it has. It has in spades.

But it was like a light got switched on, and I could see clearly. Well, would you, for the sake of our audience, Skip, draw a distinction between fundamentalist Muslim theology and what a Christian would believe? Fundamentalism is—and I've read a lot on this, and so much is written on it—but fundamentalism, in the Christian perspective, is the belief in the fundamentals of the historic Christian faith. And there was a movement that was spawned a long time ago to keep the church intact with those biblical fundamentals.

So it has good roots. Now, it has become a bad word, unfortunately, because there are some, even in the Christian movement, that will do things or believe things in an extreme position and even get violent with their belief system. Now, with fundamental Islam, fundamentalist Islamists, listen, Islam is divided between Sunni and Shia. Fundamental Sunni theology is very different than Shia theology. Fundamental theology that has spawned the terrorism is rampant in Iran, it's rampant with Hezbollah in Lebanon, it's in the borders of the Palestinian territories, it's in the region.

That's not necessarily the position of some of the larger nations in that region, but it has brought an enormous amount of tension between Muslims and certainly the Islamic world against Christians. You know, we were suddenly aware of it on September 11th, and we've grown in our understanding of it since. 9-11 did create a stunned nation in America, and there was a spiritual ripple, a wave that came from it. As you mentioned, there were prayer meetings here, and I remember the Congress singing God Bless America on the steps of the Capitol. We've come a long way from that day.

Yeah, we sure have. We got sucker punched, and the reaction of people in a time of crisis is to look up, to ask why, why would God allow it, but then to also lean on God for strength as our refuge and our strong tower, and there's so many great promises of that. So, yeah, we as a nation were sort of jolted into a new reality, and it caused us, ever so briefly, but it caused us to look up and to trust in God.

Let's make this personal, Skip, because you moved very quickly. We all became spectators for untold hours watching what unfolded in Pennsylvania, the Pentagon, and in New York. But you moved from spectator to participant, and tell us about your experiences being a chaplain at Ground Zero. I was asked to take a team by Franklin Graham. He gave me a phone call, and he said, would you be willing to take a team of counseling pastors, just get a few of your guys that you know can handle crisis and tension? Would you be willing to go to New York and spend some time there being at Ground Zero?

We'll try to get you credentialed, and could you, the goal would be to establish a prayer center that the Billy Graham organization would fund, and to be available for people. You'd have skilled, trained grief counselors to be there for people who had lost lives for the city collectively. So he tasked me with that, and I went there at first to assist first responders, but I remember clearly flying, and it was the first day the airports opened. The airports around the world shut down, or in our country they did, so airspace was restricted. The first day it opened, I flew from here to Denver, Denver to LaGuardia Airport in New York, and I remember the closer you got to Manhattan, you could see the smoke, and when you got, when we flew right over Ground Zero, and you could look down, you could still see fire, the flames of the fire lapping up through that hole.

And then this plume of smoke that was extending into our airspace, you know, through our aircraft, and then we landed, and so you just see that, and you've just seen it up to that point on the news, but you're looking down at it in real time, and we landed, and we began. I spent three weeks on the ground there, and I worked with the Red Cross. We had an all-access availability so we could go anywhere and everywhere, and it was surreal. It was surreal to be in New York during that time to interact with people. It was surreal to be at Ground Zero and work with first responders who were weary and in disbelief, but doing a stellar job. One of the lasting images, due to the fact that families just didn't know if their friends were lost or dead, and they were posted all over Manhattan, Skip, were those pictures of lost people. What was it like?

It had to be just unbelievable, walking around and seeing that kind of a monument. Yeah, you know, every time there is a mass disaster with a lot of people, that's typically what happens is you'll have survivors who will post pictures of loved ones wondering if you've seen them. Listen, I understand that. The first stage of grief is disbelief, denial. You're denying, you're believing they're alive, they just haven't surfaced yet.

In some cases that's true, but most often it's not. And it was heart-wrenching to see poster boards on fire stations, on chain-link fences of churches, everywhere you'd go, especially around the perimeter of Ground Zero, you'd see hundreds, thousands of faces of people, you know, passing things out, or, have you seen my loved one? And I remember that made such an impact, but what was even worse was to, because what was left of those people was body parts, and we were on what's called the bucket brigade, so we lined up, you know, one person after another in these long lines, and whatever was found in the debris was placed in the bucket, and then each person was past that bucket until it got to the end, then it was sifted through. And what was found were just little fingers and parts of bodies, and it was taken to the morgue, it was given, went under analysis, DNA analysis, and then when there was a positive identification, then that face, that person that had been looked for, was now confirmed dead, the people were brought in, they always ask a chaplain to come to the morgue so we would go down and be with the families when that happened, or be right outside after they identified them and try to work through those stages of grief.

But, gosh, just, you know, going through that process every single day with another person or persons, it was taxing on us, but on them, of course, and on the city. I recall watching the documentary called The Falling Man, about those who leapt from the World Trade Center to prevent being incinerated. And now, with juxtaposition in my mind, Skip, it's a picture of those, to circle back to Afghanistan just for a moment, those people falling, how incredible is it that this is happening in the same way? They're falling from a U.S. plane as those jump from the World Trade Center.

They're related in some bizarre way. Yeah, because, listen, it's the same force that inflicted the damage, and that is the Taliban. So, what I feel about that is that the timing of this ending in Afghanistan could not have been worse. Really, on the 20th anniversary of 9-11, and in the manner in which it happened, I don't want to use this program to get political, but I have some deeply held beliefs about this, as do lots of Americans and people around the world. World leaders have taken offense at this, and I think rightfully so. And there is time to second-guess it and to Monday morning quarterback it. All events that we do in life are to be held to that scrutiny and accountability. Everything should be called into question. And certainly, at this, where the world collectively has this consciousness of this terror organization that has butchered people, destroyed life, taken lives away from girls and abused women and whipped people in the streets and still do it to this day.

So, yeah, it's like getting punched in the gut. I don't think it's political, Skip, for you to say that I like your observation on this. Don't we learn from studying Israel that the leadership that got installed in that nation was related to the function of the people's obedience to the law or to God in general? You know, listen, we can always look back and wonder, did we make the right choice in the voting booth?

Did they make the right choice in the war room of the Pentagon or in the strategy room of the White House? But every choice we do make has consequences, and this president has said the buck stops with him, and he said that on a number of occasions. So, okay, then let's hold some accountability in place for this, because these are lives that are at stake. And as a Christian pastor, seeing helpless people, people that could be helped, could be ministered to, this administration has made it very difficult to reach out to those who are in extremist need in that part of the world. My concern, Skip, and I'd like your thoughts on this, is that God created Israel miraculously, he loves Israel, he promoted them, and yet, as a function of their disobedience, he gave them wicked leaders like Ahab for 22 years. Yeah, so I want to be careful answering that and assigning that to the president of the administration.

However, you're right, God is sovereign, and when a nation wants to rule God out, and when people are willing to vote for leaders who rule God out of policy, then it kind of, then you get what you vote for, because we do, this is a nation where elections are held, supposedly free and fair elections, and we have to live with the consequences of the people we install in office. This is why voting for believers is so vital, and we should learn the issues, and not just say, well, yeah, but he doesn't tweet mean things. And so, isn't life better? Really?

If that's at the end of the day, I'll take mean tweets over a bad policy. Let's go back to the streets of Manhattan, Skip, in September of 2001. I realize it's been 20 years, so, but can you, you interacted with hundreds of people, and New Yorkers are infamously callous.

Yeah. That wasn't the case for that period of time, was it? It was unbelievable to be in New York during that time, because it's like New Yorkers got a heart transplant.

I don't want to be hard on New Yorkers, I love them, and I understand, I like their brash attitude, I just think it's so cool, and I love their city. But they were tender. Most were very soft toward us, they were welcoming a prayer, they were confessing their hopelessness and their fear, and I was given advice years ago that Christians should walk softly around a broken heart, and their hearts were truly broken. And it went a long way to be with them, just to stand with them and listen to them and have them talk about loved ones and have them talk about their loss and pray with them, and most people welcomed our prayers. Most people listened to what we had to say.

Every now and then you get one or two that would not. But they were dealing with some pretty deep grief, so people are apt to say and do anything when they're in grief. So I understand that, but by and large people were very, very tender and open. You gave a message, in fact, we created a booklet out of his Skip called Standing Firm in Troubling Times, and the principles are clear, but it does seem that the Lord does shake things periodically and not assigning blame to what happened on that day, but he does use those things for his purposes.

Right. For whatever reason that God allows it, there can be all things work together for good to those who love God, so all things includes those things. So the idea being that sovereign God can use the worst circumstances, use cancer, use you getting fired from your job, use a breakup of a marriage, loss of a life, he can use bad things for good results. And God knows how to make a combination in your life and give that to you as a prescription that can actually be beneficial and helpful, make you grow, make you trust him, bring things into your life that wouldn't come into your life any other way except through that change of events that was forced upon you. So we have to be very careful to say, why does God allow bad things to happen? Because the bad thing may disguise a whole slew of good things.

People experience Skip every day. Their own personal 9-11 is divorce, bankruptcy, that call from a doctor. How would you encourage somebody who got that information, maybe even today? Well, Psalm 46 talks about the Lord being our refuge, our strength, a very present help in times of need, in times of trouble, and that's what he wants you to know. If you're a listener right now, God is present with you. If you're a believer and you're listening to this, you trust God, but you've been blindsided by some catastrophe.

It didn't take God by surprise, and he is with you. He is your present help in times of need. He will help you through this. He will walk you through this. And on top of that, God's people can be a resource to you. I encourage you to find a believing friend that can stick with you, counsel you through it, a pastor, a deacon, a leader at your church or your small group. Be around God's people.

Don't be alone during this time. You need to be reinforced with God's truth. Let's zoom out a little bit, Skip, and you've been involved, I think, for decades now with Samaritan's Purse and World Medical Emissions, and they do a phenomenal amount of work. Some things they probably can't even talk about, but speak about the depth of the work of Samaritan's Purse. It is an organization that I continually get impressed with. I get impressed with it because they hold a pretty strong line of evangelism, so they will do things in the name of Jesus.

They have not watered down the gospel ever in any of their endeavors. They know how to do it sensitively in sensitive nations, however. They know when and how and where to walk.

They're very, very precise, but they don't compromise. Having said that, they at the same time have the most skilled individuals at their disposal. Best surgeons, best doctors, from brain surgeons at Mayo Clinic to cardiac surgeons who've had a lifetime of experience. World Medical Emissions is part of what they do. They have a field hospital where they fly emergency DC-8s into different parts of the world with a medical team that can extract people, and they can set up field hospitals in primitive locations for COVID, for advanced surgeries like you would with the U.S. Army. So it's amazing, disaster relief from natural disasters, but they're literally all over the globe, and they have these MacGyver-type people, these brilliant guys who assess damages, find out ways even when a situation where you have closed borders, how to sneak into the borders and help people like they did in Rwanda years ago into that genocide.

So I'm always weekly, because I'm part of the board of directors, I'm weekly amazed at the team and the staff that works with Samaritan's Purse. It has been 20 years since the events of September 11, 2001. You have been listening to a conversation between Skip Heitzig and Chip Lusko about Skip's thoughts on the solemn anniversary. Broadcast time did not allow us to carry the full conversation, but you can find it at On this broadcast, we have a special offer of two important books. First, a signed copy of The Biography of God by Skip, and the new book, Enemies and Allies by Joel Rosenberg, which addresses many of the repercussions of 9-11. Both of these books are yours when you make a donation of $50 or more to support this program.

Get your set of The Biography of God and Enemies and Allies online at or call 1-800-922-1888. Thank you for joining us for this special broadcast about the anniversary of September 11 with Chip and Skip. Nate Heitzig is the executive producer of this program. Connect with Skip is edited by Peter Benson, and I am Scott Dooley, encouraging you to pray for our country, our leaders, and our men and women in the armed forces. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-01 15:01:53 / 2023-09-01 15:11:22 / 9

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