Lesson: 9-11-2001 WTC/Pentagon Attack

This lesson was developed in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  This is not a lesson in the normal sense.  This lesson is meant to help kids recover from the trauma, learn about the real-life, and understand that the world can be a cruel and unreasonable place.

1. Let kids talk -- They need to vent.  Ask them what facts they've heard.  Dismiss the false rumors (e.g., Nostradamus's prophecy).  Ask them how they feel.  Make them feel comfortable if they want to cry (bring tissues).

2. Answer their questions -- The most common one are:

Why did they do that?
    Terrorists want to make people afraid and pay attention to them.  They don't have to have a clear reason or a demand.  That's why terrorists are hard to deal with and why President Bush said this will be a long battle.

Why do they hate us so much?
    Usually when someone doesn't like the U.S. because of its policies or lifestyle, they just keep their disagreements to themselves and make their point in speeches once in a while.  In the case of Osama bin Laden, he is upset at the fact that U.S. has troops in Saudi Arabia, his home country.  He thinks that the U.S. troops desecrate the Islamic "holy land."  (Interestingly, U.S. has troops in Saudi Arabia to protect it from Iraq, another Muslim country.)  Bin Laden is unwanted by Saudi Arabia, which he thinks is a corrupt government and wants it overthrown.  So the U.S. really hasn't done anything to hurt bin Laden.

Why did God allow this to happen?
    This is a fallen world that has rejected God (when Adam ate the forbidden fruit).  Humanity surrendered its God-given authority to the devil.  This is the source of the suffering of mankind and everything on Earth.  While God can intervene and not allow the devil to do whatever it wants, God sometimes allow the devil to cause sufferings on Earth, but has a reason for doing so.  Roman 8:28 says that "all things work for the good for those who love God."  We may not see any good out of the attack now, but over time we will see something good that we don't see now.  For now, there's a spiritual revival in the U.S. and our government is finally focusing on fighting terrorism all over the world.  When bin Laden attacked the two embassies in 1998, we fired some missiles and everything sort of disappeared from the headlines.  Now because of the much greater devastation, the country is now united to fight this evil person and his evil ideas.

Is going to war biblical?
    The Bible condemns violence and teaches us to love our enemy.  So can declaring war be the right thing to do?  In the Old Testament, God actually told His people to fight certain nations, often to defend themselves or to get rid of evil.  In the case of fighting terrorism, it's both defense and getting rid of evil.  Some nations are joining the U.S. because they realize that such terrorist attacks can target their people as well.
    America's warfighting rules are not the same as most countries in the world.  It has laws that prohibits America from extending territories through military conquests.  It often helps rebuild the countries it fights (e.g., Japan and Germany).  While most nations try to develop weapons that will kill more people, the U.S. actually spends money to develop weapons that will kill fewer people while destroying buildings and vehicles.  It also tries to minimize civilian casualties, the exact opposite of what the terrorists did.  While we do not seek war with others, in this case it is forced upon us.  In this case, going to war may be actually doing God's work, if we do it for the right reasons.

3. Assure them of their safety -- Now we can't promise them total safety, but we can tell them that life has to go on, and our government will do more to protect us.  And they need to rely on God for things they can't control.

4. Perhaps next week, refer to Bible prophecies and show that God has told us about these things and He is fully in control.  Some of the lessons on SSTC are useful in this respect:
    Technology in the Bible
    What Do You Think These Are?
    666--The Mark of the Beast
    When Will Jesus Return?

5. Tell stories of heroism -- Show them that "good" is still there.

The brave passengers
    United flight 93 was going from Newark (NJ) to San Francisco when three terrorists took control of the airplane using knives.  They were flying the plane toward Washington D.C. and possibly intending to crash into the U.S. Capitol where the Congress meets.  Jeremy Glick and Thomas Burnett were two passengers on UA 93 and they called their wives to tell them about the hijacking.  By then (9:30am), two planes have crashed into the Twin Towers and someone had told them about it.  When they realized that their plane will probably be used to kill more people, they and a few others decided to fight the hijackers.  They may or may not know that the original pilots are probably dead by then and if they kill the hijackers they will have no way of landing the plane.  They decided that they must not allow the plane to hit a building and kill even more people, and they succeeded in crashing the plane and saving perhaps thousands of lives even though they lost their own.  (Interestingly, these two passengers were not supposed to be on UA 93 originally.  God likely caused them to be on UA 93 to save many lives.)

Selfless firemen
    After the Twin towers were hit, NY firemen rushed into the buildings to help get the people out.  Some of the people trying to escape have severe burns from the explosion, and some probably got injured while running down the stairs.  These firemen went in to find people and get them out.  They were running up the stairs when everyone else was running down.  Then the building collapsed, and more than 200 of them are trapped in the rubble.  Most of them are probably dead by now.  Firemen from around the country heard about this and came.  But because the airports were shut down, some of them drove hundreds or thousands of miles in their own cars (fire engines are too slow) to come to NY to help the remaining NY firemen.  They know the first 72 hours are crucial and they refuse to rest, hoping to find the survivors before they die.  Some of them got injured when they fell through holes, but they pressed on.  Seeing the sacrifice they were making, people began to bring them food, water, blankets (so they can sleep on the street or in cars), and socks.

Blood donors
    When people around the country heard about this, they went to donate blood in huge numbers.  Sometimes they have to wait hours to give blood.  They feel that this is the least thing they can do.

6. Do something -- Kids need to feel empowered.  Let them do something to help out.  Have a toy or book sale and get the money to Red Cross (write a check and make a BIG copy to post on the bulletin board).  Make a big poster for hanging outside the church.

Some good things to download:
    USA flags: http://www.laedc.org/out/USA_flags.pdf
    Encouraging pictures: http://www.sundayschoolteachers.org/freedom.jpg

This lesson was developed by George Huang.  Got a question or want to publish this lesson?  E-mail me.

Last updated: 9/16/2001