and Lisa Beamer: Sunday morning heroes
"In the normal course
of events, presidents come to this chamber to report on the state
of the union," President George W. Bush said as he opened his speech
to a joint meeting of Congress on the evening of September 20, 2001.
"Tonight, no such report is needed. It has already been delivered
by the American people. We have seen it in the courage of passengers
who rushed terrorists to save others on the ground. Passengers like
an exceptional man named Todd Beamer."
Todd Morgan Beamer was
a heroic passenger on United Airlines Flight 93. As the details
of the lives of victims of 9/11 came to light through the tributes
of friends and loved ones, the public soon learned that Beamer,
32, was an account manager for Oracle Corporation. They learned
that he left behind Lisa, his wife, and sons David, 3, and Andrew,
1, when he risked everything to prevent his flight from becoming
another weapon in the hands of evil. But few people knew about another
part of Beamers life, a role that was vitally important to
him that of a Sunday school teacher.
Todd Beamers last
recorded conversation has become world famous.
"Our Father who art in
," he prayed over a cell phone with an operator on
"Thy will be done on
earth as in heaven.
" Words written some 2,000 years ago quieted
fears and brought determination to a man who recognized that his
decision could impact thousands of lives.
"Deliver us from evil,
for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."
Then, with the conclusion of the prayer taught by Jesus Christ,
who had sacrificed himself so others could live, Todd turned to
fellow passengers. "Are you ready?" he asked. "Lets roll."
"Lets roll." Lets
do what needs to be done, no matter the cost. Lets lay it
all on the line for a cause greater than ourselves. It is a call
to action well-suited for every person committed to sharing the
Few environments are
better designed for personal evangelism than the Sunday school classroom.
When Todd and Lisa Beamer moved to Princeton, N.J., seven years
ago, Princeton Alliance Church soon became their church home. Within
months, the Beamers were asked to teach the senior high Sunday school
class. They gladly accepted.
"We knew that this was
a very important ministry that was going to have lifelong implications
for our students," Lisa remembers.
The Beamers threw themselves
into weekly ministry, not only in their Sunday school classroom
but also in the day-to-day lives of their students.
Roll! Finding Hope in the Midst of Crisis
Lisa Beamer w/ Ken Abraham
Beamer: Portrait of a Sunday School Teacher
National Sunday School Department
What Youre Looking For in Sunday School
National Sunday School Department
#26TT0702 (sample kit)
here and look for the WANT MORE? link or call 1 800 641
Natalia Lentini remembers
Todd Beamer as a multi-faceted role model. "He taught me what a
dad was supposed to be like, because my parents were divorced,"
she says. "He showed me how a man of God acts toward his kids and
toward his wife and toward other students."
"If youre passionate
about God," says Rebekah Langone, "youll be passionate about
other people." She looks back on heart-to-heart talks the Beamers
would have with their students. "They understood what we go through
as teenagers," she says, "and they wanted to make sure that we knew
they were there."
Langone helped the Beamers
care for their children the summer before Todd died. "He would come
home so tired from work," she remembers, "and hed ask you
how you were." The question was never an empty inquiry. One night,
Langone says, Todd talked with her for four hours about issues impacting
her life. His flight to California the next morning made no difference
in his concern for her need.
Todd Beamer did not wake
up one morning and decide he could face a life-or-death confrontation
"What set Todd apart
and what made him really ready to act with courage and to act with
faith and to act with character that day," Lisa says, "is because
he struggled every day to make those good decisions and those good
choices that would lead him to be closer in his relationship with
God and more able to step out in faith when he needed to."
Sunday school played
a key role in Todds personal growth even before he became
"I think Todds
first experience at church was probably when he was about 2 or 3
weeks old," Lisa says, "and went through the whole Sunday school
program in the churches that his family found themselves in. I think
when youre a little child and you start in Sunday school,
you learn a lot of the stories. Especially a lot of the Old Testament
stories Noah, and Adam and Eve, and Moses and it takes
a while until youre able to put those all together."
As Todd grew up, Lisa
says, those stories from Sunday school ceased to become just stories,
but became models for life. Bible study became a part of Todds
daily life as well. He spent a lot of time studying the Bible with
friends who met each Friday morning. They talked about how Gods
Word was relevant to their lives and how it applied to all of the
demands they had as Christians and as people in pursuit of excellence
in all that they did.
"For our family," Lisa
says, "the Bible serves as kind of a blueprint for how we interact
with each other, for how we interact with our peers and our families
outside of our little nuclear family, for how we spend our time."
For Todd, that blueprint
helped him make sense of all the demands on his life. Family and
friends remember him as someone who worked hard but made sure that
his work never overshadowed his relationship with God or his relationship
with others. And that commitment to relationships carried over every
week into the Beamers Sunday school class.
"He cared about us,"
says Jonathan Leonard. "After class, hed come up to me and
ask me how basketball was going. He actually took the time to get
to know me better. He cared about what was going on in my life."
That kind of compassion
complemented a reputation for integrity that validated the lessons
"The stuff that he taught
us he lived it," Leonard says. "He practiced what he preached."
To follow the example
of Todd and Lisa Beamer and the tens of thousands of men
and women who stand before Sunday school classes each week
does not require a graduate degree in theology or a teaching certificate
or an impressive personal resume. It just requires a heart burdened
for the spiritual needs of others.
Sunday school teachers
need to see their classroom as a mission field. They need to see
their students as their friends. They need to see that fun and fellowship
can create an environment in which lives are forever changed.
"If I had a chance to
talk to Sunday school teachers and give them some advice or give
them some ideas from my experience," Lisa says, "I would just tell
them that they dont know what sort of impact theyre
having and to keep on persevering even when they think theyre
not having an impact. Weve had so many kids come back and
say that a specific lesson or a specific illustration that one of
us made stuck with them forever. We never knew that that was going
to happen, that that one kid needed to hear that on that day. And
thats not really up to us. Its up to the Holy Spirit
to really take what we have to offer and really use it in someones
Sunday school. In the
hands of teachers dedicated to the Spirits leading, it can
be a life-changing force. Are you up to the challenge? Are you ready
Harrup is associate editor of Todays Pentecostal Evangel.
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