I remember where I was. I was in elementary school. We had taken the day off because one of our family friends was in town, and we had a play date scheduled.
It was just before 9 a.m. when we got the phone call. Mama rushed into the den and turned on the television to see the black smoke billowing from the World Trade Center North Tower. What was happening? We all wondered in horror. Minutes later, my 9-year-old eyes were seared with the unforgettable images of United Airlines Flight 175 slamming into the World Trade Center South Tower.
You never forget that, and you never get over it. Though we heal and move forward, the scar lingers upon our souls for a lifetime. That was the day that we grew up.
If a generation is defined by a singular moment in history, that was ours. We watched over the next few hours as more planes diverted, and more people died. The nation was stunned by the overtly heinous hatred, a kind of devastation we did not have a category for. We were not ready. After all, how could we be? No one can ever be prepared for that sort of evil.
Questions tumbled out of my mouth as they formed in my mind. Why? Who? What now? My poor mother was faced with the difficulty of attempting to field them all meanwhile trying to understand our new nonsensical realities for herself. Distinctly, I remember asking her, “Mama, are we at war?”
Although I cannot be certain of her response, I seem to remember her saying, “I don’t know, but I think we may be.” We have been ever since.
We cannot escape the realities of September 11, 2001. Twenty years after the fact, the memories do not disappear. It still hurts. We still weep. None of it makes sense. It never will. However, if you are like me, two things remain true. First, you know where you were. You can pinpoint the place, remember the details, and relive that morning on command. We all share that hurt. And second, amid all the pain, one question might resurface for you from those dark moments that bright September day: Where was God?
One of the great philosophical questions that the Church has faced for millennia is the problem of evil. We wrestle with the truth of an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present God who is absolutely good in all that he says and does, and the very real presence of evil in our lives. We all must face that reality. In fact, we are confronted with it on a daily basis.
How can God be who he is and do what he does and evil still exist? I cannot hope to tackle such a weighty question in so little space. However, I would like to offer a simple, hope-filled response that may give you comfort twenty years later.
Simply, he was there. He was with me in my den as I watched my television in terror 685-miles away. He was there with Todd Beamer aboard Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania, most likely en route to the U.S. Capitol. He was there with the countless believers in Jesus Christ who sacrificed everything in order to love their neighbors, coworkers, and fellow citizens well with their final moments. The great hope that Jesus offers is the “Immanuel” hope, the hope that the very “with us God,” has not abandoned us. In moments of tragedy and profound suffering, the nearness of God draws us to rest in him.
We will never fully understand the problem of evil, the brokenness that sin has brought to the world God made to be good.
However, we can rest assured of this: the good and sovereign God has come near to us through his Son, Jesus Christ. When I question any aspect of that sentence, I am reminded of the cross and the resurrection. If God were not good, he would not have cared to rid the universe of evil. If God were not sovereign, he would have had no means to ultimately destroy evil. And if God had not drawn near, he would have never finished the necessary work through Jesus Christ to redeem all that evil had destroyed through sin. When we trust in Jesus, we do not always discover the answers to our questions. In fact, sometimes I discover more questions than I started with! However, what I find consistently is God is big enough for my questions, and good enough to satisfy my aching heart. If you struggle with evil, know that God did, too. And he won. The cross and the resurrection prove it.
Churches Assisting People (CAP) invites the public to join in a community celebration of its 35th anniversary of helping needy people in this area. This will take place Saturday from noon-4 p.m. at Thompson Farm, 100 Brickyard Plantation in Conway.
This is a free event to thank the churches and the community for their support and prayers for the past 35 years. There will be food, a petting zoo, corn maze, cakewalk, entertainment and a special guest. Call (843) 488-2277.
Conway, Loris, Aynor and Western Horry
■ Loris First United Methodist Church, 3507 Broad St., has a blessing box in the church and it is available each Friday from 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. This box contains nonperishable food items and individuals in need are encouraged to come to the church at those times. Also, if you would like to donate items, please place them in the box.
■ Dogwood Hill Baptist Church, 1040 Mt. Zion Road in Loris, has a food pantry on the third Saturday of each month from 8 a.m.-10 a.m.
■ Salem Baptist Church, 4008 Salem Road in Aynor, opens its food bank on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month from 9 a.m. until noon. The mission: “We serve Christ when we serve people.”
Call (843) 347-5168 or go online to www.stjamesconway.org.
■ Thompson Farm is hosting a “Hometown Heroes Weekend” benefitting Help4Kids with a food drive!
Please help them feed their “pumpkins!”
They need volunteers to collect donated food items and talk about Help4Kids at this event!
Where: Thompson Farm, 100 Brickyard Place, Conway
When: Sept. 25 and 26
Times: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Myrtle Beach /The Coast
■ You are invited to the following services and activities at The Well by The Sea, 211 Forestbrook Road:
Something NEW: The Deep Dive, questions and answers live-streamed; you may submit questions about God, the Bible, the Christian life, spiritual things and so on. All honest, respectful questions are welcome. Add your questions to the queue by submitting them to email@example.com. Then tune into The Deep Dive on Facebook Live every Wednesday at 6 p.m. Go to The Well By The Sea’s Facebook page and click “Like”. You will be notified when the show starts.
Also, at the Well By The Sea: In-person Bible study/discussion group on the “9 Supernatural Gifts of the Holy Spirit” on Mondays at 11 a.m. (no cost, no RSVP, masks required).
An in-person (or Zoom) weekly bereavement/loss support group meets every Sunday at 6:30 p.m. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In-person hangout for young adults (ages 18-30); every Saturday at 7 p.m. Come for a free meal and planned activity. Email email@example.com.
The Well by the Sea Annual Fall Festival:
Sept. 18 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Food - Music - Bazaar - Games - Children’s Activities
This is a fun event for the entire community. All are welcome to come!
Food – Fresh BBQ and a variety of homemade goodies for purchase to eat at tables or to take home.
Bake Sale – Homemade bakery goodies for purchase, already made for you to take home.
Bazaar/yard sale – Tables loaded for browsing with donated timeless treasures for sale: toys, clothing, small appliances, craft items, furniture, vacuums and many more items too numerous to list here.
Music – throughout the day with some live bands.
Fun games & children’s activities – throughout the day with small prizes to winners.
Get out of the house. Bring the entire family. There will be something for everyone!
■ Father Anthony Montesinos Columbiettes Auxiliary No. 5086 of St. Andrew Catholic Church, 503 37th Ave. North, is looking for crafters for a holiday bazaar to be held Nov. 13 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. in the Community Life Center. Call (908) 938-1433 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
■ The Socastee Pantry is now open and serving. This food pantry will be located at A Father’s House, 4513 U.S. 17 Bypass in Myrtle Beach. Hours are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and Saturday 7 a.m.-10 a.m.
The pantry is sponsored by Faith Outreach Ministries and operated by local veterans. It will provide much-needed food and necessities to the needy in our community. Call (843) 474-9900 or visit www.faithoutreachministries-gs.org.
■ Temple Emanu-El by the Sea, 406 65th Ave., North, Myrtle Beach: (843) 449-5552. Conservative Rabbi Avi Perets.
“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities with wearing a mask (except while being seated) and physical distancing.”
Call: (843) 449-5552
Rabbi Avi Perets
Services (Zoom and Temple):
Haazinu, Sept. 18, 6 p.m.; Shabbat at 10 a.m.
Facebook Hebrew School Registration
Sept. 19, 10 a.m.
Pizza Party Sukkah Decorating
Steffi Nathan Scholarship Fund
Open to all Jewish College students. Applications
available in the temple office.
Sisterhood is once again collecting socks and Underwear (any age/any size) for Fostering Hope.
*High Holiday Services will be held at The Dunes Club
Sukkot, Sept. 21-22
Simchat Torah Celebration
Sept. 28 at 7 p.m.
■ Faith Church on S.C. 90 in Little River sponsors Celebrate Recovery on Tuesdays at 6 p.m.
■ Together in Christ has a Wednesday Zoom prayer meeting from noon-12:30 p.m. each week. Prayer changes everything and you are invited to pray with the mid-week group. Email email@example.com.
■ St. Michael’s Catholic Church, 542 Cypress Ave., Murrells Inlet, has a life chain every first Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on U.S. 17 Business near the church driveway. You are invited to participate in this event. (Bring a chair if not able to stand for the hour.) Contact Joanne Bennett at (614) 313-8425 or email Joanne.bennett55@ gmail.com.
■ Myrtle Beach Christian Church, 1226 Burcale Road, opens its thrift store each week, Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. You are encouraged to come out and browse and buy and, in so doing, you’ll be supporting this community outreach. Call (843) 236-1121.
■ Temple Shalom, 4023 Belle Terre Blvd., invites you to Shabbat services each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Call (843) 903-6634 or go online to templeshalommyrtlebeach.net.
■ Christ the Servant Lutheran Church will hold its Fall Flea Market again.
Tables are available for a $15 donation.
The church is at 2105 U.S. 501 E., Conway, across from HGTC/CCU.
Call (843) 457-3547 for a registration form.