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Finding God in the Shadow of 9/11: A Survivor's Story

Paul Strand : Sep 11, 2019  CBN News

"There were shoes all over the road...all kind of random shoes. And I remember looking down, thinking 'Why are all these shoes here?' People were apparently so discombobulated by what was happening just a few blocks north of them at the World Trade Center, they were running right out of their shoes, or were taking them off to run faster and dropping them as they sprinted.

(Ground Zero-NYC) — [CBN News] Most of us remember where we were when terrorists rammed jets into the World Trade Center towers 18 years ago. More than 3,000 died on 9/11, and the toxins left behind continue to kill many more. (Screengrab image: via CBN News)

In the midst of all the suffering, some survivors have found a new walk with God. Like Christina and Brian Stanton. In her new book—"Out of the Shadow of 9/11: an Inspiring Tale of Escape and Transformation"—Christina tells all about it.

'A Bomb Went Off'

She begins by describing how Brian shook her awake that 9/11 morning up on the 24th floor of their apartment building just a few hundred yards south of the Twin Towers.

"He said a bomb went off at the World Trade Center," Christina told CBN News. "So we rushed to our terrace and we were just in shock."

They could see smoke and flames pouring from the top floors of the North Tower.

Then roaring up behind them, the second airliner flew just over their heads on its way to crashing into the South Tower.

Blew Them Off Their feet, Knocked Them Out

"It went right in front of us, turned and then shot in," Christina recalled. "And the shockwaves from the plane blasting into that building actually blew us back into our apartment." (Screengrab image: via CBN News)

They were both knocked out, but awoke a few minutes later and rushed away from the Twin Towers towards Battery Park and the southern tip of Manhattan, joining throngs of panicked runners.

"Some people were bloodied. Other people were in pajamas just like myself," Christina said. She'd fled so fast, she hadn't had time to get dressed or even put on shoes.

And it was shoes that presented the Stantons with one of the oddest sights they saw that day. As they'd run south along the West Side Highway, Christina recalls, "There were shoes all over the road...all kind of random shoes. And I remember looking down, thinking, 'Why are all these shoes here?'"

People were apparently so discombobulated by what was happening just a few blocks north of them at the World Trade Center, they were running right out of their shoes, or were taking them off to run faster and dropping them as they sprinted.

'Everybody Started Going Crazy'

The Stantons reached Battery Park where chaos reigned, especially when the booming sound of the first Tower collapsing hit the throng there.

"Everybody realized all at once that one of the Towers was coming down. And everybody started going crazy," Christina said. (Screengrab image: via CBN News)

People in Battery Park had a good reason to panic. Because the Twin Towers were so tall, if they had fallen over rather than pancaked as they collapsed, they could have reached all the way to Battery Park and crushed people by the thousands.

Then choking smoke billowed out from Ground Zero and coated the Stantons and everyone around them in yellow sticky grime.

"Everyone was caught up in the smoke and were, I'm sure, worried they were going to be asphyxiated."

'Are We Going to Die?'

That only increased the panic. Standing now in this park where tourists queue up to ferry over to the Statue of Liberty, Christina recalled what she saw that 9/11 day.

"Everyone's running around screeching and bumping into each other and catapulting over things," she described. "And I just remember looking at Brian and saying, 'Are we going to die?'"

Afraid of being trampled, they quickly hid behind a big brick round fort that New York built to protect itself from the British in the War of 1812. (Screengrab image: via CBN News)

There the Christian couple said goodbye to each other and began to pray.

Christina expressed how grateful she was she'd been able to meet and marry the man of her dreams just a year-and-a-half before, and was glad she could be with him as they faced death.

'Sorry that I've Not Put You First in my Life'

But then she began to add up how she'd lived her life and what her goals and ambitions had been, and that's when it hit Christina how shallow her walk with God was.

Yet out of all this darkness around Ground Zero came a guiding light. The terrorists were shouting "God is Great!" as they crashed into the Twin Towers. But what they were really doing was a horrific act for satan. Still, even in that horror, the One True God was able to bring good.

In the case of the Stantons, having stared death in the face where the Towers once stood, they now realized they wanted a real relationship with the God of life and were totally dependent on Him for their future. They repented of their past.

"I'd let Jesus out of a box on a Sunday and then I'd go back to my life on the weekdays. Pretty much everything I was doing was all chasing after a whim," Christina confessed. "It was just the realization that I'd been living my life really without God."

Serving at Redeemer, Living Redeemed Lives

In her book, Christina tells how God then moved to set their future. It started with Christina reluctantly reaching out for help from Reverend Tim Keller's famous Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan.

"I went to the church and they covered some bills for us, and we started attending there," Christina recalled. "Not too long after, I got a job there—in Redeemer's church-planting center—and then my husband got a job there as an office manager."

Now Brian's become Redeemer's chief financial officer, while Christina takes mission teams from Redeemer to worship, pray, serve, and minister all over the world.

The Stantons saw and felt suffering during and after the attacks on this ground where the Towers fell, and God's not letting that personal experience go to waste.

"Our whole lives are changed because of 9/11. It certainly deepened our relationship with Christ," Christina insisted, summing up, "The only thing that matters now is glorifying God and to help others in a hurting world." Subscribe for free to Breaking Christian News here

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