A chaplains letter
Following are excerpts from a letter from Assemblies of God Chaplain
Rick Ianniello to the Assemblies of God Chaplaincy Department on his
ministry experience at the World Trade Center.
Just spent two days with the New Jersey Army National Guard chaplains
and their assistants. We have been put on State Active Duty and my chaplains
and I joined them to reinforce their numbers.
We were housed at the Jersey City Armory. Our primary mission was at
the Staten Island landfill. This landfill is now called LSA Respect.
At the landfill truckloads of stuff from ground zero are being brought
in. This stuff is sifted through to look for body parts and anything
else that may help the investigators. This is done by both dogs and
From time to time they will find a part of a body or something else
that might help determine who was in the building. The place is dusty
and it stinks. You have to wear a Hazmat suit and a mask.
However, even with that you never feel clean.
We also visited ground zero. Cannot believe what we saw. Death, destruction
and sadness are all around. The destruction is not only to the WTC but
also to all the buildings that are close. No one knows how long the
recovery and rebuilding will take.
The cars and steel from the building look like something out of a science
fiction movie. The steel girders are twisted and white from the intense
heat. Cars are beyond description.
The poor dogs from both locations are suffering. They are hurting from
walking on garbage and from inhaling the concrete dust and from working
long hours. But they keep on going.
The people are fantastic. Many are in pain because they lost people
who they knew or members of their family. One fireman told us that he
lost four members of his family in the catastrophe. His son and son-in-law
were members of his fire unit and perished.
We just comforted them the best that we could, gave them Bibles and
prayed for them.
We have given out lots of Bibles and gospel tracts. We have talked
to hundreds and have given out hundreds of tracts. We even pray for
the dogs. Now, I know that some of you will have a problem with that,
but let me tell you, when a dog handler has tears in his eyes because
his dog is hurting, I will pray for God to bless the dog and handler.
The general feeling among the chaplains is we are not there to condemn
or set people theologically straight. We are there to let them see Gods
love in action.
Those I met are hungry to talk and be prayed for. No one says no.
The feeling is that this will go on for a long time.
Somehow I have to believe that God has a plan. Even in this destruction
Chaplain, Lt. Cmdr., Rick Ianniello
New Jersey State Naval Militia Joint Command, Fort Dix
Editors note: Chaplain Ianniellos unit consists of five
military chaplains; three of them represent the Assemblies of God.