9/11 – 20 Years

Today marks 20 years since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Those of us who are old enough to remember it can all remember where we were when it happened, but those who are younger have all felt its effects. 

Personally, I remember that it was a Tuesday and I was working for Christy Sports in Golden, Colorado in the snowboard shop, and we had the day off to attend a seminar hosted at the Burton Snowboards Colorado headquarters in Denver, so I was parked behind the shop waiting for a colleague to meet me so we could drive down together. He was over an hour late. This was before most people had cell phones, so I just had to stand and wait for him. When he arrived, he told me what had happened. I remember the confusion of that day; at first, people assumed it was an accident, until it became clear it was an attack. 

We went to Denver and instead of a seminar, we ended up watching the TV reports at the Burton headquarters. Downtown Denver was absolutely empty, as no one knew if there were going to be more attacks. 

I went home, and my dad was there; he worked at the Denver Mint, and since that was a federal building, it was considered a high risk for attack.

At this point in September, I had just returned home from my first trip to Hungary, after which I felt called to move to Hungary, and was making plans to go there in January. I did end up moving to Hungary in January, and one of the ministries I worked in was a refugee camp.

The camp was in an abandoned Soviet military base which had been reopened in 2006 by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) to house refugees from the Bosnian war, and had then been kept open to house refugees from Kosovo. Around the time I came, there were still many refugees from former Yugoslavia, but quickly the camp filled with over 2000 Afghan refugees.  

While working in this camp, I got to know my now wife, Rosemary, and together we saw many people from Afghanistan, Iran, Kosovo, and other muslim-majority countries become Christians. As these people came to Europe to escape the conflicts back home, many of them had the opportunity to read the New Testament and hear the gospel, and meet Christians, and attend a church for the first time in their lives – and God used His Word to change their hearts and their lives.

My heartfelt condolences go out to the grieving families whose lives were changed when over 2,997 people lost their lives on September 11. I pray that the Lord would be their comfort and that they would find in Jesus the hope of the resurrection and life everlasting.

May we also honor and thank the first responders and emergency workers who served that day and in the weeks following. May we pray for our medical workers today as well as they serve the hurting and sick in the midst of this current crisis.

Let us also be in prayer for those who served in the military over the past 20 years, and for the families of those who lost family members in service. And let us pray as well for the Afghan people and the Afghan Christians who are now suffering under Taliban rule today.

“The Dopest Job Ever”

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Yesterday, while riding the lift at Eldora, I had an interesting conversation with a guy who, like me, was up snowboarding alone.

He was from Boulder, probably in his late 20’s or early 30’s, and works in some area of the tech industry.

He was very interested when he found out I was a pastor, because he said he’d always been interested in what goes on in churches, but had never been to church himself.  Here’s how our conversation went:

  • “Wow, you’re a pastor?!  Like in a church?”
    • “Yeah”
  • “So, what do you do there?”
    • “I teach the Bible and counsel people and lead the church as an organization in all the endeavors we are involved in.”
  • “Do you like emcee the shows and stuff?”
    • “You mean the church services?  Yes, I lead the worship services.”
  • “So you’re kinda like an emcee!  That’s dope!”
  • “Wait, so you’re married?  (I had mentioned my wife and kids to him)
    • “Yeah, I’m married”
  • “I thought priests couldn’t get married”
    • “Well, that’s a rule in the Catholic church – but we’re not Catholic. In fact, even in the Catholic church, they only introduced that rule a couple hundred years after Jesus lived and established the church, so most Christians don’t follow that rule, and most pastors get married.”
  • “Wow. I always thought that would be a pretty dope job, but the one downside is that you couldn’t have girls. But, you know, if you can have girls, then that’s like the dopest job ever!”
    • “Well, I mean, as a pastor, you can’t just go around having lots of girls – you can have a wife and a family, but it has to be monogamous.”
      • “Yeah, but same thing – you get to have a girl. That’s dope!”

About this time the lift reached the top of the mountain – and I encouraged him that he should really check out a church sometime for himself, and that he ought to give some consideration to who Jesus was and what he taught. After that, we bid each other farewell and got off the lift, and went separate ways. Who knows if we’ll ever meet again.

It did surprise me though, how little this man knew about church and about Jesus. It served as a reminder that we live in a post-Christendom society. Boulder has long been considered a trend-setting, cultural hub for Colorado and the Western United States. That means that as Christians, increasingly we can no longer expect that most people in our society have a basic understanding of Christian doctrine and practice, and know who Jesus was and what God requires of them. More and more people in our society are growing up without that, and we as Christians need to be prepared to present Jesus and the message of the Gospel to people without the assumption that they have some basic background understanding of Christianity – because more and more do not.