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A biblical response to America’s emergency

The following letter was sent to pastors across the United States, shortly after the recent terrorist attacks. Drafted by James O. Davis, national evangelists representative for the Assemblies of God, it was signed by many national Christian leaders, including Thomas E. Trask, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

Dear fellow pastor and laborer in Christ. We the undersigned, representing many denominations, have united in the Spirit of Christ to pray for you and your people.
September 11, 2001, will be remembered as one of the bloodiest days in United States history. The two greatest office towers in New York City were obliterated. The Pentagon, a symbol and headquarters of our military authority, was ripped open. Commercial jetliners became weapons of mass murder.

On this day, people ran through the ash-covered streets of Lower Manhattan chased by a mighty cloud of dust and debris from the office towers they once occupied. Others jumped from 30, 40, and even 100 stories above. It is estimated that more than 5,000 men, women and children died.

What do we do when the towers crumble? What do we do when horrific events come to our personal lives and to our nation? What is a biblical response to this national calamity? In days like these we are reminded of what Isaiah said centuries ago:
“In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill. The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the LORD binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted” (Isaiah 30:25,26, NIV).

When Nehemiah learned that the wall of Jerusalem had been broken down and the gates had been burned with fire, he “sat down and wept” and “mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:3-5). He also identified himself with the sins of his people and cried out to God for forgiveness.

In the midst of the national tragedy, we humbly suggest several biblical responses.

We need to repent of our past path (Isaiah 30:1-14).
Our choices have consequences. Our rebellion has results. In many ways, the results of the recent days are a reflection of the crumbling foundation of America. It is time to reflect and repent. It is time to rend our hearts and not our garments.

We need to repent for America’s rejection of God’s Word (verse 1). Our goal is not to make others look bad in order to make ourselves look good. In many ways, the church is as guilty as our society at large. The highest court in our land has forced the Ten Commandments out of our schools and has forbidden little children to pray and read God’s Word. America has flooded the world with unimaginable perversion on the Internet and through films and television. We have given legal protection to conduct that God calls an abomination, and we have slaughtered up to 40 million innocent babies in the last three decades. As a nation, we have told Almighty God that He is no longer welcome in our public square. We need to plead with God to forgive us and restore in us a holy fear and reverence for God’s commands.

We need to repent for America’s rejection of God’s wisdom. Oftentimes, we are more willing to trust in man and not consult God for His help, refuge and protection (verses 2-8). We have trusted more in our land than in our Lord, more in our gold and silver, than in our God and Savior. It has brought shame and disgrace upon our nation. We need to trust more in our Creator than in creation, more in God’s Word than in man’s wisdom. It has been said, “God is our greatest hope and our greatest threat.” It is time to repent of our past path of sin.
We need to repent for America’s rejection of God’s will (verses 9-14). We need to pray that God will restore the walls of His protection around our nation. We are thankful for the Statue of Liberty in New York City’s harbor, but we also need a Statue of Responsibility in San Francisco’s harbor.

We need to remember our present problems (Isaiah 30:15-18)
It is clear this national tragedy provides a golden opportunity for the church to serve our people. Seldom in the history of our country have people been as open to the gospel. This is a defining moment for the church. We need to bind up the wounded, minister to the brokenhearted, encourage the despondent and introduce people to Jesus Christ. It is time to minister to those who are mourning and help those who are hurting.

We need to move from a natural response to a supernatural response. We must resist the temptation to step down from the heavenly level to a human level. As Christians, while we acknowledge that government has the responsibility to protect its people, our goals are not “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” God says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).

What are some practical responses that we can apply in the days ahead? First, we need to seek God’s face through fasting and prayer for divine intervention. We need to pray for President George W. Bush, his cabinet, and for those who govern our nation. We need to intercede fervently that God grant our national leaders discernment and direction. We need to pray for the victims who are suffering in hospitals and for families who have lost their loved ones. We need to pray for peace in our world.

Second, we need to provide compassionate ministry in behalf of our Lord. We encourage you to get involved in the lives of people who are hurting as a result of this terrorism. If you know of people who have been affected by the most recent events, reach out to them. Do not wait for them to reach out to you. We must be proactive in these days. Again, this is an awesome opportunity for Christians to reach out across America and provide biblical answers for tough times.

We need to reclaim our precious promises (Isaiah 30:19-33)
God can turn tragedy into triumph! It is time to reclaim the promises of God. If we turn to Him, we will weep no more (verse 19). God desires to answer our prayers. In the midst of national calamity, God is going to send us godly teachers to instruct us in all aspects of our lives.
We need to reclaim the promises of national revival (2 Chronicles 7:14). We must not repeat the mistakes of the Ephesian and Laodicean churches (Revelation 2-3). We need to believe that through these events God will spark the flames of revival and spread them by the wind of His Holy Spirit. Even though the towers may crumble, God will cause His majestic voice to be heard throughout the earth (verses 30-33).

After Nehemiah humbled himself before God through mourning, fasting and prayer, he began rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. His rebuilding efforts were spiritual and physical (Nehemiah 4:16-23). Today, we must rebuild our nation through the truth of the Word of God. However, we must use the weapon of truth with faith, hope, and above all, love.

The events of September 11, 2001, have shocked the world. Forces of evil have attacked a country that has welcomed the world with the promises of freedom, safety and security. The atrocities committed by fanatics must not be allowed to shape our attitudes towards people of other nationalities or religions, most of whom are as appalled by what has happened as we are. In these uncertain times, we must respond by faith, not fear; in hope, not despair; with love, not hate; with humility, not pride; with action, not apathy.

We, as your fellow servants, are praying for you and your congregation. Please believe with us that our great God and Savior will turn this tragedy into triumph and will send healing revival to our land.

Signed by: Charles Blake, Bill Bright, James O. Davis, James Dobson, Stephen Douglass, Howard Edington, John W. Howe, John Ed Mathison, John Maxwell, James Merritt, Bob Reccord, Pat Robertson, Adrian Rogers, Jack Stone, Thomas E. Trask

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