Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own

By Brendan Scott

If time heals all wounds, do you think all the wounds have been healed?  This, the morning after, a decade later.

Many of the students I taught at the Inter-American School in Xela have never known a world with the Twin Towers.  One student, Sebastian, a squirrely little boy who would rather make his classmates laugh than kick in the winning run in kickball, was born in Canada on the day of the 9-11 attacks.  His life will always be strangely connected to the attacks.  He came into the world as so many were taken away.

Last year, as he celebrated his birthday at IAS, I asked his mom what it was like for her on that day.  She told me the doctors didn’t let her know what was going on and that for her the day had been a true blessing.  Sebastian, is a true blessing.  His laugh and the myriad of nicknames he dumped on me always made teaching him PE enjoyable.  Life has gone on.  But I know many of us cannot forget what happened.

10 years later and many of us are still wondering how we move forward from here.

September 11th, 2001 started like any Tuesday for me.  I was a month in to my new school at Battle Mountain High School, my new life in Vail, Colorado.  I was lonely but I didn’t want to make friends, because I figured I would just move off in a year for college.  I had built up a hard shell of isolationism.  The move from Tulsa to Vail hurt me deeply.  The loss I felt when I left the friends I had known almost my whole life redefined who I was.  I was no longer the leader at my church.  I felt like a nobody.  I felt weak.  The move took away my confidence and sadly I didn’t want to find it again.  I felt I was just okay floating along until college.

As the day unfolded on the televisions, which were tuned in to the news in all of my classes, our identity as a nation changed.  We were once independent and indestructible. As the towers crumbled, I knew we’d never be the same.  I knew I needed people, sadly a knowledge I didn’t act on right away.  And as the months passed I believe the entire nation realized it needed one another as well.  The hard shell of our nation was cracked, if only just a little, that day.  As we mourned the loss of so many people, we came together.  We were hurt.  And we changed.

September 12th, 2001 was the day we all picked ourselves up and began to move forward.  We started to change, but what change has really occurred?

Maybe you were one of the first responders.  Maybe September 12, 2001 was your second day digging through the rubble of the collapsed buildings.  Maybe you were one of the first to enlist in our nations armed forces.  Maybe you were one of the first to be deployed overseas to Afghanistan.  Maybe you were one of the first to march into Bagdad and liberate an oppressed people.  Maybe you were one of the pastors who comforted those who lost loved ones.  Maybe you were, like me, just a student who stared at the television and watched the world change.  I watched and watched and watched.  I was drawn in by the stories of loss, horror, and hope.  By nightfall on the 12th, 82 people had been confirmed dead and 11 people had been rescued.  I believe we’d realized that sometimes you can’t make it on your own.

U2’s lead singer, Bono, wrote the song Sometimes You can’t Make It On Your Own while dealing with the loss of his father, but as it seems to happen the words speak to a deeper truth.

Tough, you think you’ve got the stuff
You’re telling me and anyone
You’re hard enough

You don’t have to put up a fight
You don’t have to always be right
Let me take some of the punches
For you tonight

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don’t have to go in alone

And it’s you when I look in the mirror
And it’s you when I don’t pick up the phone
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

We fight all the time
You and I… that’s alright
We’re the same soul
I don’t need… I don’t need to hear you say
That if we weren’t so alike
You’d like me a whole lot more

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don’t have to go it alone

And it’s you when I look in the mirror
And it’s you when I don’t pick up the phone
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

I know that we don’t talk
I’m sick of it all
Can, you, hear, me, when, I, sing
You’re the reason I sing
You’re the reason why the opera is in me

Hey now, still gotta let ya know
A house doesn’t make a home
Don’t leave me here alone

And it’s you when I look in the mirror
And it’s you that makes it hard to let go
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own
Sometimes you can’t make it
Best you can do is to fake it
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

If time really does heal all wounds, I think 10 years later we would all be fine.  But people still hurt.  People still see today, ten years after the first day after, as if September 11th, 2001 was yesterday.  10 years later I hope we all know that we are not alone.  And together, unified, is the only way to move forward.

But is being united truly enough?

Over the last ten years I moved forward.  I broke out of my shell, graduated from both high school and college, and then moved to Guatemala.  For me Guatemala has been and will be the most definitive time in my life.  As I lived outside of my home country, away from every comfort I’d grown up with, I realized how much I needed God in my life.  And I found out that God has something for me.

I believe God has something for the United States as well.  On September 12th, 2001 he began the healing.  While we were all in mourning, while we were all being led away from whatever was normal just 48 hours before, God was busy working.  Over the past ten years, while we came together as a nation, we have all been in a form of exile.  Being an American has been something different, our indestructible identity is gone.  We are still proud, as we should be, but the pain of being attacked still lingers, maybe in a way no one thought it would.  I believe the biggest change we have undergone as Americans is not knowing how to be who we are, Americans.

Do we love?  Do we realize we need each other?  Or do we stand apart?  Do we mourn alone-wrapped up in our own fear?  Do we stay in exile, confused about who we are and what God has for us?  Or do we come back to our foundations?  It is a new decade.  It is time for us to realize that God has a plan for us all.  As he said to the exiled Israelites through the profit Jeremiah, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Whenever seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.  For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart.”

Are we going to be a nation that finally turns its eyes to God?

We have fought to defend ourselves.  We have strengthened our defenses.  Can we lay our weapons down when it matters?  Can we love when love is what is needed most?  On September 11th we were all hurt badly.  It has been ten years and one day.  Let this be the first day we love first instead of hardening our hearts toward everything that might hurt us.  How long must we sing this song of hurt and pain?  Not another ten years.  Not another day.

We must wait on God and seek him out with our whole hearts the way King David did when he wrote Psalm 40 because he will bless us with something new.

I waited patently for the Lord;

He inclined and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

out of the mud and mire;

He set my feet on a rock

and gave me a firm place to stand,

He put a new song in my mouth,

A hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear

and put their trust in the Lord.

Brendan regularly blogs at guatspot.worrdress.com

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Ten Heros In Afghanistan

Several years ago Dr. Thomas Grams made a fatal decision. He closed up his successful dental practice in Durango, CO and began providing dental care for children in Afghanistan and Nepal. Last week he and nine humanitarian colleagues were murdered by members the Taliban in Badakhshan, Afghanistan.

Grams and his team were true heros. We toss the word “hero” around way too easily today, especially in sports. But they gave their lives for something bigger than themselves. They knew the risks and faced them and paid a price for what they believed. I can only hope that their courage and selflessness is contangious and that I become fully exposed.

The tragic loss of their lives also made me wonder: What pushes people to make such difficult, selfless decisions? Though each of the ten was an individual and made his or her choice for individual reasons, faith in God played a role for many of them.

Like Nehemiah, from today’s reading, many on the International Assistance Mission team put themselves in danger in response to God showing them a need.

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

Nehemiah 1:1-3:14

1 Corinthians 7:1-24

Psalm 31:19-24

Proverbs 21:4

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THE WORD MADE FRESH

Nehemiah had a cushy job. He was trusted and respected by King Artaxerxes, the most powerful man in the world at that time. Nehemiah lived in the palace, dressed well, had a top-notch education, ate the best foods, and drank the best wine. He was the cup-bearer, which meant Nehemiah served the king his wine, making sure the wine was not poisoned.

Why would he give all that up to go before the king and ask for an extended leave of absence to travel to the ruined city of Jerusalem and face possible death? Jerusalem was the bad-lands. The people living there were either oppressed or were the oppressors, lawless, violent, willing to kill, rob, and go to war to take what they needed.

When Nehemiah heard the news about the need of his people in Jerusalem, he experienced a discomfort that even all the money and power of Artexerxes could not deflect. God revealed to him that those “who survived the exile are in trouble and disgrace.” Nehemiah wept because the people were living in such poverty and hostility. And the temple, the place that once spoke of a loving, powerful God, lay in ruins.

Why did Nehemiah go? Because God showed Nehemiah a need and he responded with a prayer and then a plan to do something about it.

So too did Dr. Thomas Grams. So too can we. And we need not travel to Jerusalem or Afghanistan. Look over your backyard fence; visit a local school; listen to your co-workers and friends. There are needs all around us.

Is it possible that, as with Nehemiah, when we notice these needs, it is God’s nudge for us to pray and plan so that we may do something about it?

“Blessed are they who mourn,” said Jesus. “For they will be comforted.”

What if part of what Jesus meant by this is that, though our hearts may break because of what we have been through ourselves or when we see the pain of others, comfort comes through following God to do something about that pain.

I lost my father at age eleven. In some ways I have mourned ever since. And when I see or hear of fatherless children, my heart breaks.

Then recently God stirred my heart anew over fatherlessness and I began to pray. I shared this with Mike Klassen (my co-pastor and co-blogger) and he said he felt God calling him to do something about this as well. We prayed together and God formed in us a plan to launch a mentoring organization for fatherless young men at our local high school. We’ll keep you posted as to what God does with this vision.

But Mike and I are not facing death and danger as did the International Assistance Mission team nor Nehemiah. We are simply responding to a need God brought to our attention.

You can do the same. Will it cost us our lives?

I hope so.

P.S. Let’s pray for the families of the ten who were murdered. They must be in such pain.

God, please comfort and bring hope. Let your Holy Spirit fill in every gap and every tear. Surround them with strong, kind, grace-filled people. Walk with them. Answer their questions, if answers will heal and help. Bring justice as only a merciful God can. Let them, and us, know the real you through this. Please don’t let this vilolence begat more vilolence.

I know that anytime people who claim to represent God rain-down hate and vilolence, it breaks God’s heart. It also makes me ask him why he lets people like that claim his name and his favor. But then, it seems to me, that the question ricochets back to me. Why do I tolerate it?

I won’t any longer. Sharia law is wrong. Executing people in the name of God because they don’t believe what you beleive is wrong. We who believe in a God of mercy and love, the God who, rather than snuff out our lives, gave his life in Jesus, will not seek retribution, but we will not stand silent in the name of diversity or tolerance.

  1. What do these for passages share in common?
  2. What most breaks your heart?

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Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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