A Hero's Faithful Final Hour
By Candice McGarvey
Crosswalk.com's Women's Channel Editor
At 9:45 a.m. on Sept. 11, Wheaton College graduate Todd Beamer placed a call from an airplane that would eventually lead to him reciting the 23rd Psalm with a stranger. The GTE operator on the other end of the call then heard him rally his fellow passengers, who had decided to thwart the plans of their hijackers. The call ended before the plane went down in Pennsylvania.
The rest of the world had just learned that three commercial airplanes had been hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. At the time that many Christians on the ground were moved to pray that there be no more attacks, Beamer was also busy praying. And then he threw himself into action to make sure that the prayers across America came true, at least in part. There were no other symbols of U.S. power hit that morning, but United flight 93 did crash into an empty field outside Pittsburgh. We didn't lose any more landmarks that day, but we did lose a few more heroes.
Beamer, an Oracle sales manager from Hightstown, N.J., was flying that morning from Newark to Los Angeles. Once the hijackers had taken over the plane and wounded the pilot and copilot, Beamer was ushered to the rear of the plane with nine other passengers and 5 flight attendants. The other 27 passengers were herded into the first class cabin at the front of the plane. Guarding the rear of the plane was a hijacker who had what appeared to be a bomb strapped to his chest.
There were at least three other passengers making calls from the rear of the plane, but as Beamer tried to call his wife of seven years with the on-board telephone, his credit card did not go through and the call was intercepted by GTE operator Lisa D. Jefferson. The strangers spoke for 13 minutes before the call was cut off. During that time they swapped crucial information. Beamer learned from Jefferson about the other hijackings that had taken place that morning and suspected that flight 93 might also be used to kill great numbers on the ground. He then relayed as much detail as he could about the attackers who were now controlling his flight. Beamer made Jefferson promise she would relay the message to his wife, currently pregnant with their third child, that he loved her.
It was Friday, Sept. 14, before Jefferson received permission from the FBI to contact Beamer's wife, Lisa, and bring her up to date on her husband's final moments of heroism. In an Associated Press piece by Joann Loviglio, Lisa Beamer -- also a graduate of Wheaton College -- made the comment, "People asked me if I'm upset that I didn't speak with him, but I'm glad he called (Jefferson) instead. I would have been helpless. And I know what his last words would have been to me, anyway." Lisa Beamer was honored publicly during the presidential address to the nation on Sept. 20 and graciously received the standing ovation on behalf of her -- as President Bush called him -- "exceptional" husband, while Americans across the country cheered her on from home.
Before Todd Beamer and his fellow passengers attempted to jump the terrorist who guarded them, he asked Jefferson to pray with him over the phone and they said the 23rd Psalm together, "... Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me ..."
Apparently the passengers in the rear of the plane had put their next step to a vote, and their democracy rendered a decision: they would attempt to overthrow the hijackers. Precisely what happened before the plane crashed may never be known, but the last words Jefferson heard from Beamer constituted a charge to his fellow passengers, "Let's roll!" It was a charge he had playfully given many times to his family, and was characteristic of his exuberant spirit.
Our country will always be grateful for the courage and resolve exemplified by Beamer and his cohorts. They represent the stuff of real live heroes in a world that only sees that kind of bravery in the movies.
On Sept. 11, 19 terrorists thought they were sacrificing themselves for a greater cause when, in fact, the only outcome was the death of innocents. Todd Beamer, on the other hand, was an honorable man who followed the example of his Heavenly Father -- he sacrificed his own life to save the lives of many others. " ... He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake ... " (Psalm 23:3)
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But the important thing about life, is “Be ready to meet our Maker”, at any time. That is what Jesus taught in Matthew 24:42 when He said to “...keep watch because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Likewise in v.44 when He said to “...be ready because the Lord will come when He is not expected.” This same thought is repeated in 25:13.
Thus, every time we get behind the wheel of an automobile, or go up the plank to go on a cruise, or down the ramp which leads onto a passenger plane - it may be our last hour to spend on this earth. We should be ready always to meet our Maker.
God is in need of many more “Christians” in our world. Will we answer the call to be a “Christian”? If we had more “Christians” the world would be a better place to live and there would be more people to help share the Word about Jesus. Now, the Bible’s plan of salvation is very plain and teaches that one must:
1) Believe In Jesus As Savior (Acts 16:31)
2) Repent Of Sins (Acts 17:30)
3) Confess Christ Audibly (Acts 8:37)
4) Be Baptized In Water (Acts 2:38)
5) Live A Christian Life (Acts 14:22)