KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–He cannot commute to work anymore without thinking about it.
“Every time I drive into the city, I realize the towers are still gone — but there is hope.”
Hope was the message delivered by David Dean, executive director of missions for the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association, as the keynote speaker for a Sept. 11 tribute organized by three Kansas City area Baptist associations. More than 1,500 people attended the tribute Sept. 9 in Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Liberty, Mo.
Dean was on a bus on his way to work the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when he saw smoke billowing out of the World Trade Center. Two days later, he penned these words as a way of coping with his emotions:
There’s a hole in the New York skyline
And a vacuum in our hearts
As we struggle hard with disbelief
And wonder where to start
To heal our broken spirits
With love from heart to heart!
Clouds of smoke still hover
Where once proud towers stood,
While clouds of grief engulf us
As we search for the good.
This cloud upon our city
Is more than we can bear
Unless we walk together
To show how much we care.
Dean said Southern Baptists showed how much they cared by immediately responding to the tragedy. “At first, there were so many Baptists coming to New York City, we didn’t know what to do with them all,” he said while thanking Kansas City Baptists for doing their part by donating funds and working at Ground Zero. “But there is work still to be done.”
New congregations are starting, including one on Staten Island where many firefighters live, and plans are in the works to develop a missions center. Individual family ministry has been a focus of this past year, such as organizing the distribution of 25,000 teddy bears as gifts.
“This is not near over,” Dean emphasized. “The impact. There will be other terror attacks. There will be other disasters. Find out how you can get involved in your community.”
Dean concluded his comments with a poem about hope that he wrote last Christmas. Its closing verse, he said, is: “Hope is the anchor for the soul awash in awesome waves of grief. Hope is the steel that sustains our faith under direct attack from the enemy. Hope is the assurance that Incarnate Love has already won the ultimate victory.”
Also included in the tribute service were video testimonies from three Kansas City residents, including Paul Brooks, pastor of First Baptist Church, Raytown, Mo., who was on vacation Sept. 11 in New York City.
“I was horrified and angry at the terrorists,” Brooks recounted. “… Christianity teaches us to love our enemies and that God places the sword of vengeance in the hands of the government. But my role is to promote the love of God…. I know that lots of people have come to know the Lord as a result of Sept. 11, so some good has come out of it.”
Two others who shared video testimonies were Ken Reese, pastor of Northgate Baptist Church, Kansas City, and Deanna Harrison, a member of First Baptist Church, Lee’s Summit. Both worked as volunteers at Ground Zero, handing out socks and gloves to workers on site and serving them meals.
The tribute included a video news clip of President Bush’s words during the Sept. 14 national prayer service and patriotic and praise music from the combined choirs and orchestras of First Baptist Church, Lee’s Summit, Mo., Emmanuel Baptist Church, Overland Park, Kan., and Pleasant Valley Baptist Church.
The three sponsoring associations were Blue River-Kansas City, Clay-Platte and Kansas City, Kan. “This service has been a marvelous expression of the outpouring of typical Baptists,” said Don Reed, director of missions for the Kansas association. “I think we could have set this kind of meeting down anywhere in the Southern Baptist Convention, and we would have had the same sort of emotive response.”
Also on the program were Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes and the 139th Airlift Wing Honor Guard. The tribute concluded with Pleasant Valley Church pastor Vernon Armitage quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14 and calling people to kneel at the altar in prayer for the nation.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: 9/11 REFLECTIONS, JOINING IN, 9/11 TRIBUTE IN K.C. and FITTING TRIBUTE.