Pray have prayed
Lord, our nation will never forget the tragedy of September 11, but we will also remember Your grace and mercy through it all. Guide us through the pain and show us how to respond.

As we arrive at the 20th anniversary of 9-11, many stories of that fateful day flood our minds. Most of us can remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard about the planes crashing into the Twin Towers. It was a Pearl Harbor moment that never left the memories of heart-broken Americans.  While there are hundreds of stories one could share about 9-11, there are a few that seem to stand out, and even bear a message that speaks to our nation from the fire and ashes.

As a researcher I have always been interested in the finer details of historical events. I want more than the general facts you might hear on the news. In essence, I want to know the heart of the story. Years ago, while researching 9-11, I stumbled upon a story I’d never heard anywhere. It centered around Flight 93 and what was left behind after the crash.

For review, Flight 93 took off from Newark International Airport in New Jersey and was scheduled to land at San Francisco International Airport at 11:14 a.m. Pacific Time on September 11, 2001. There were forty passengers and crew aboard the flight, along with four hijackers. About forty-six minutes into the flight, terrorists broke into the cockpit and took control of the plane. The path of the aircraft was no longer San Francisco. The new target was Washington D.C. and the terrorists were determined to crash into the White House or the Capitol building.

But this plane of courageous passengers and crew would not go down without a fight. Knowing the evil intentions of the hijackers, they planned a daring revolt. At 9:57 a.m. they stepped into action, attempting to regain control of the plane. The cockpit recorder picked up the sounds of a struggle as the passengers and crew clashed with the hijackers. Realizing they could take the plane back, the hijackers decided to take the plane down. They can be heard screaming, “Pull it down…pull it down.” The plane descended rapidly and struck the ground upside down at a forty-degree angle. It hit so hard the shock waves tore the insulation off a nearby building. Carrying over 5,500 gallons of jet fuel, it ignited upon impact, landing in an open field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. One eye witness reported that he saw a flash of silver before the plane hit the ground. Another said the impact caused earthquake tremors in the nearby area. Trees were burned by the scorching heat, which nearly vaporized all the contents of the plane.

When first responders arrived at the crash site, they discovered a crater that was 30 feet across and at least 15 feet deep. According to the Flight 93 National Park website: “The wreckage around and inside the crater consisted of largely unrecognizable pieces of twisted metal, pieces of the landing gear of the plane, a tire, the frames of some of the seats, bits of charred paper, and remnants of luggage and clothing. Most of the pieces of wreckage were quite small, the size of a notebook or smaller.”

The next part of this story is miraculous and took some digging to find. But I’m glad the researcher in me stumbled upon it. Among the smoldering ruins of the crash site, something unexpected was found 15 yards away from the impact crater. What was it you ask?

IT WAS A BIBLE.

Terry Shaffer, who was the chief of the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department said, “The fumes of jet fuel burned my nostrils…there were only two recognizable things on the ground–a burning tire from the landing gear and the Bible laying open on the ground with its pages as white as snow…It was on the southern end of the crater or where the tail section should have been. I haven’t shared the story with anyone, but there definitely was a feeling that God’s hand was present. The leather cover on the Bible was singed, but none of the pages were burned. It was an older Bible that you could tell was used a lot.”

Interestingly enough, Chief Shaffer said it was as if the earth had opened up and swallowed the aircraft. Yet here was this intact Bible. City Chief William Russian stated, “When you see a plane crash in the movies or on TV, you see these big plane parts. That’s not what this was. There were no large pieces of wing. There was nothing.” Nonetheless, there was this well-preserved Bible laying open for all to see.

Veteran and former First Responder Dick Pristas describes what he witnessed that fateful day. “We were there to help clean up. But when we arrived, we realized there wasn’t a lot for us to clean up. I helped keep the trucks operating. There were about three dozen of us at first. We didn’t know what to say to each other. We were very subdued that morning, just going about our business. The gravity of what was going on had only begun to sink in. I could only think about the victims’ families.”

But Dick Pristas also found hope among the wreckage. He said, “I walked out in front of our fire truck and saw what looked like a hardback book on the ground. I picked it up, and it was a Bible. It was just a little tattered, but it was ok. I had such mixed emotions, that a Bible would be the only thing to survive something this awful…I took the Bible and put it on the front of the bumper of our first engine to arrive…since then, I’ve spoken with many victim’s family members, and it’s very meaningful to them that the Bible was found. They consider it a miracle of sorts.” 

Perhaps like myself, you’re wondering, who did the Bible belong to? Here’s where the story gets even better. It belonged to a man by the name of Donald Peterson, who was traveling with his wife aboard Flight 93. They had taken an earlier flight and were on their way to Yosemite National Park. Don and his wife had no idea their last moments would be spent aboard a hijacked plane and that Don’s Bible would bear witness to their lives of faith. Both were devoted to Jesus and serving others. Don worked with men who struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, while Jean counseled women who were in crisis pregnancies. Together they volunteered in their local church and community. It’s no surprise that Don’s Bible looked like “it had been used a lot.” Not only that, when the Bible was recovered there was a handwritten list of all the men Don had been praying for tucked inside. Here is a picture of Donald Peterson’s Bible.

Twenty years after 9-11 what can we take away from this story? Actually, it’s not that hard to see. The Word of God was found among the wreckage of a plane that bore the scars of a terrible day in our nation’s history. The message of today is no different than it was in 2001. The United States of America needs the Living Word–Jesus Christ. We need to get back to our foundation, built on the principles of the Bible. Our only shield is the Almighty Savior. The world around us is not much different than Flight 93. It’s hurtling toward the ground at breakneck speed. We can already smell the smoke and feel the heat. But there’s an answer and I believe you already know what it is.

One question still lingering in your mind is likely the same one I pondered when I read the Bible was laying open on the ground with its pages as white as snow.” According to hospital chaplain Joe Maurizio, the Bible was open to the First Book of Kings, chapters 13-15. I read through these chapters and prayed for discernment. I suppose I could tell you what came to mind. But instead, perhaps you might want to read those chapters for yourself. After reading them, what do you sense the Lord is telling you?

As Intercessors for America, we know we are facing quite a battle. The hijackers have stormed our land and they have our Constitution in hand. It seems they’ve taken control and are determined to take the plane down. But we have a weapon that can overcome the darkest of agendas. WE HAVE THE WORD.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

Prayer Points:

Lord, we pray you would help our nation stand upon the Word and not veer to the left or the right.

Lord, we pray for the wisdom to discern events around us and the courage to respond to them with faith and boldness.

Lord, help us remember to keep our Bibles open so that we can live our lives as a testament to you.

The Word is full of power and wisdom. What verses or chapters of the Bible do you sense the Lord laying on your heart at the 20th anniversary of 9-11? Share in the comments below!

Angela Rodriguez is an author, blogger and homeschooling Mom who studies the historical and biblical connections between Israel and the United States. You can visit her blogs at 67owls.com and 100trumpets.com. Her latest book, Psalm 91: Under the Wings of Jesus, was just released in June.

(Photo Credit: Priscilla du Preez/Unsplash).

Comments (6)

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Shirley p
September 12, 2021

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall never pass away. Matt. 24:35

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God, He was with God from the beginning. John 1: 1,2.

…therefore keep watch because you do not know on what day your Lord will come! Matt. 24: 42.

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Molly Francis
September 11, 2021

In the miraculous Bible being found open to 1kings 13-15; I felt Israel went astray and disaster came upon them; America has gone astray and disaster came on 911 and is still coming.
However, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Our only way, our only hope.
Holy Spirit is pouring out revival on the United States and all nations.
Read Psalm 2. It is a prayer for such a time as this. It begins
“Why do the nations rage and the people’s grumble in vain? Kings on the earth rise up and plot against the Lord and his anointed……He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh.”
Psalm 2:1-4
Keep praying intercessors. Where there is intercession, there is hope!!!!

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Patricia
September 11, 2021

Amidst the mangled mass of airplane parts reflected by the autumn sun in Shanksville, an unexpected gift appeared. It was a treasure hidden in the field. The glistening white pages reflected its identity: a Bible. The Word still lived. Its radiance testified that the darkness will never overcome (references: Matthew 13:44; Hebrews 4:12; John 1:1-5).

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Jane
September 11, 2021

Wow I would live to know what others are getting from 1Kings 13-15.
I don’t know what to think, not obeying the word of the Lord…a prophet who would deceive on purpose…Israel and Judah separated ruled by different kings…brothers at war with brothers.
Lord send us righteousness leaders in all of society. Lord we repent of going astray. We speak our confession: we depend on you alone and look to you to make your will known.

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Nan
September 11, 2021

Psalms 71:3-6, “Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go. Give the command to save me, for you are my rock and fortress. Deliver me, my God, from the power of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and oppressive. For you are my hope, Lord God, my confidence from my youth. I have leaned on you from birth; you took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is always about you.” We trust and rely on you Lord, and no other. We praise and thank you for the assurance of salvation we have in Jesus Christ. Amen.

79
Mary D
September 11, 2021

There are no human words. God’s Powerful, Living, Active Word is all that was and is necessary. How amazing that He left His Personal calling card, The Word, open exactly to the pages of a Nation and rulers gone astray into idolatry, excess, greed, power, deceit, division, immorality, manipulation, and demonic activity. And the judgments that follow. The exact things unfolding in our nation. I ThankYou for posting this as I honestly don’t know if I read or knew about this Bible it in the chaos of that time. May our Great and Awesome God hear the cries of His people as we cry out for mercy and forgiveness. He is Righteous and Just. I plead The Blood of our Savior, Yeshua, over our nation. We use the slogan for this day, “We will never forget” BUT as a nation, we forgot the One who holds us together, our Creator ,founder, and bestower of abundant Blessing over this incredible nation.
Lord God forgive me, forgive us, for looking to every one and thing before YOU You are the only Worthy One. Our founders knew this and desired to honor You.
May we never forget,
Mary D

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