My sister and I were walking through Waterloo Station in London when we saw the evening newspapers selling faster than the vendors could open stacks of them. “I wonder what’s going on?” I asked. We bought one and began to tremble. There was the picture of the fireball next to the smoking Trade Center towers. Then a security guard told us, “That’s not the half of it. The towers have collapsed, a plane crashed into the Pentagon and there’s another plane down near Pittsburgh!” Two minutes later we were glued to the TV coverage in a restaurant located in the station. We stood there with people we didn’t know all feeling close together in our hour of disbelief.
Three days later we stood around St. Paul’s Cathedral with thousands of British people while the pall of three- minute quiet fell over London, one of the world’s busiest cities. Someone draped a large American flag from the windows of a building across from the cathedral. Strains of “The Star Spangled Banner” resonated from the choir of St. Paul’s for the first time in history. The next day we passed a gate. Over it was draped a British flag intertwined with the “Stars and Stripes.” Londoners were pasting printed American flags in their windows. They, along with more than 60 other nations, were victims, too, of what is surely one of the world’s worst tragedies.
One day last summer I told our secretary, “The name of that terrorist, Osama bin Laden keeps coming to my mind along with the scripture, ‘Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you.’” I wondered if I would be one of his victims? Little did I know how awful and far-reaching the offense would be.
Experiencing offense of any kind, but especially those that are deeply grievous, places the victim in the most powerful place of intercession. God grants the offended the ability to muster the forces of heaven on behalf of the perpetrator. It is the place of dying with Jesus who from the cross pardoned the sins of all who put Him there including us, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” If the blood of Abel can cry out from the ground, how much more powerful was the prayer of Jesus? I believe that when Stephen asked forgiveness for those who stoned him, his prayer rang throughout heaven and summoned all its power to soften the heart of Saul of Tarsus. We still, by reading the Apostle Paul’s letters, are affected by that prayer today. I wonder now how powerfully the Muslim world will be affected for Jesus Christ if Christians seize the moment of our victimization and let the River of forgiveness flow?
What Osama bin Laden and those acting with him did seems unforgivable. To forgive offenses like these requires that we drink from the Holy Spirit inside us and let His love flow out to those offenders. I believe our intercession starts here.
In this issue we depart from our format to bring you words from leaders who are soaking in the Holy Spirit so that you may be encouraged to respond with grace in these troubled times. You will also be surprised at the testimonies of God’s preservation, and the acts of courage on the part of believers. God is already using what was meant for evil and turning it to good. It’s the greatest day in our lifetimes to tell people about Jesus’ love.
Originally Published November/December 2001 Editor Melinda Fish
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