Gordon MacDonald has been pastor of churches in suburban Boston and in New York City. He has written books on the nature of ministry in the modern world—including Ordering Your Private World (Nelson). But he experienced a new dimension to ministry when he and his wife, Gail, were given security clearances to join the Salvation Army in caring for the people removing debris and bodies after the terrorist attack on New York City. The following are journal excerpts from their last few days there.

September 20


One young police officer approached Gail and began to tell her that he had worked in the Trade Towers for some time and that it would have been easy for him to have been there at the time of the disaster. She asked him if he's pondered the notion that God may have spared his life for a reason.

He clearly understood that.

He went on to tell her that life as a policeman was terribly discouraging; before coming into the site yesterday, he dealt with four gang murders in another part of the city. She asked him what he really wanted to do.

"Become a teacher" was his answer. She encouraged him to think about the possibility that this was a "call."

Some of his buddies came to get him because it was time to go into the pit. He asked them for a few minutes and turned back to Gail and asked her for her name. He wanted to come back and talk some more. She prayed for him and sent him off.

Many men are coming to us with blistered hands and terribly sore feet. The only thing that seems to take the smells of the pit off the hands of workers is alcohol, and Gail and the other Salvation Army workers spent a lot of time washing hands with alcohol and then rubbing in hand cream. Eyes are terribly bloodshot and sore from impurities in the air. So ...

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