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Seminary students remember attack victims in prayer

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary students gathered Sept. 11 to remember the victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks on America and the hope found in Jesus Christ.

“Nothing changes the world like the gospel,” prayed Alvin Reid, professor of evangelism. “Provoke us, energize us to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The seminary rang its chapel bells in memory of the attacks twice during the morning: Once at 9:45, when the Wake Forest Fire Department held its memorial service, and again at 10:29, the exact time when the second tower of the World Trade Center fell a year ago.

Binkley Chapel was filled with students, who gathered in groups of three or four to remember survivors and victims’ families — those who must relive the attack every day of their lives — and to pray that revival would sweep across America.

Waylan Owens, Southeastern’s vice president for institutional effectiveness, opened the service by reminding students that true hope is only found in Jesus Christ and his death on the cross.

“One year ago, our nation came under brutal attack. Two thousand years ago, our Lord Jesus Christ came under an even more brutal attack,” Owens said. “We don’t know what the future holds for our country, but we know what for certain the future holds for the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The guest speaker for the service was John Avant, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga. Avant went to New York in the week after the Sept. 11 attacks. Unexpectedly, Avant was asked to serve as a chaplain among rescue workers searching for remains among the World Trade Center rubble.

“It’s something that you never, ever forget,” Avant said. Since that time, dozens of his church members have gone to New York to do short-term missions and relief work among the people there.

“All the rest of our lives, if we live to be 100 years old, we’ll look back at a year ago today and remember exactly where we were and what we were doing,” Avant said.

Avant reminded students, though, that America is still a nation that has largely gone into “cultural exile,” rejecting the things of God. Preaching from Isaiah 57:14-15, Avant described what Christians will have to do to lead the nation back from this land of exile.

The first thing, he said, is to “build a road” to God by removing the obstacles of sin in our lives. Isaiah describes the road to God as leading to a “high and holy place,” Avant preached, and to get there one must follow the prescription of Psalm 24: Have clean hands and a pure heart, things which can only happen through the cleansing power of the blood of Christ.

“I believe God is calling you to have one consuming passion,” Avant said. “That is, pursue God and go where he is.”

After ascending to God’s high and holy place, Avant encouraged students to go to remote, lonely places to share with others the good news about Jesus Christ. That is the only way, he said, to bring America out of a “cultural exile” from God.

“Anywhere that people are without Jesus is a low and lonely place,” he said. “Anybody can be reached for Jesus. There’s no one too far away.

“Where we were a year ago we will never forget,” Avant said. “Where we are right now is a land of exile. But God is calling. He calls us to go to his high and holy place and to walk in the low and lonely place. And he will lead us to his powerful place; he will lead us home.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: CHAPEL PRAYER.

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  • Jason Hall