Jeffrey Mladenik, pastor of workplace ministry at the 5,000-member Christ Church of Oak Brook , was one of 92 people on American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles, which slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Mladenik was 43.
Mladenik worked part time at the church, coordinating employment assistance and teaching people to serve God in their workplaces. He was employed full time as a vice president of market development with Cahners, a business media company and interim CEO of eLogic, the company's Web site development firm. Mladenik and an associate were traveling to Los Angeles on business. The company is creating a fund for the family.
Dae Markus, assistant to the church's senior pastor, says members were stunned to learn of Mladenik's death. Mladenik and others were remembered at prayer services on Tuesday evening and at noon on Wednesday.
"The mood is still one of disbelief that a tragedy of this proportion could hit so close," Markus says.
Joseph Beczak, director of operations for the church, believes Mladenik's faith helped him to reach out to others even as he faced his last moments.
"Knowing Jeff, he was probably ministering to the passengers on the flight while it was in the air," Beczak says. "Jeff was a real dynamo for the Lord. It's a shame from our perspective that we had to lose him, but God knew that his time had come."
Mladenik, a native of the Chicago suburbs who had several business and biblical studies degrees from colleges in the area, had also served as a pastoral associate at the church for five years.
"My personal perspective is that he was just beginning," Beczak says. "He had a heart for the Lord. He believed everyone could know about Jesus and the transforming power of Jesus in the workplace."
Counseling minister Robert Geelhoed described Mladenik as an animated speaker who loved the Bible and was "intense in how he lived his life. He loved his family, and he was deeply, deeply passionate about his ministry." Geelhoed says young couples and families from the Sunday school class Mladenik taught for six years are rallying around his family.
Mladenik also had a personal interest in international adoption. He and his wife of 22 years, Sue, adopted their youngest daughter, Grace, from China and were involved in a fellowship for families who had adopted babies from the same orphanage. They had started another adoption process in January.
Other survivors include his daughter Kelly and sons Joshua and Daniel. The family has requested that memorials be made to the Altrusa Foundation, which promotes orphanage assistance programs in China. Plans for memorial services are still pending.
"We will remember him first as a devoted father and husband, but we know that he would like to be remembered as a Christian who walked his faith every day and in every way," his family said in a statement. "Jeff's prayer was that as a church, community and nation we would be more prayerful and conscious of God's provident hand in all circumstances."
LaTonya Taylor is editorial resident for Christianity Today.
Copyright © 2001 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
See the Mladenik family website.
Christianity Today's other articles on the attacks include:
Christians Provide Comfort in the Shadow of Calamity | Still "stunned and reeling," New Yorkers seek support at prayer service. (Sept. 13, 2001)
Shaken Christians Turn to Prayer | Impromptu services usher in the bereaved by word of mouth, road signs, and e-mail. (Sept. 13, 2001)
Communication Troubles Challenge U.S. Church Relief Agencies | Aid work continues amid atmosphere of shock, fear, and sporatic harrassment. (Sept. 13, 2001)
When Sin Reigns | An event like this shows us what humans are capable of becoming—both as children of darkness and of light. (Sept. 13, 2001)
Reflections on Suffering | Classic and contemporary quotations for dark times. (Sept. 13, 2001)
In the Belly of the Beast | Christians, calling terrorist attack "satanically brilliant," minister at epicenter of World Trade disaster. (Sept. 12, 2001)
Churches, Agencies Respond to Attacks | Leaders call for prayer, justice, and mercy. (Sept. 12, 2001)
Muslims Fear a Backlash | No matter who is responsible, observers feel a reaction will still be present. (Sept. 12, 2001)
A Wake-Up Call to Become Global Christians | The deadly attacks on America will provoke many responses, but Christians are commanded to love our neighbors. (Sept. 12, 2001)
Nation's Religious Leaders Urge Calm, Pray for Peace | Churches will maintain prayer vigils for victims and leaders. (Sept. 11, 2001)
Church Leaders Around World Deplore 'Unspeakable Horror' of Attack | Christians urged to unite in prayer as they unite in shock and denunciation. (Sept. 11, 2001)
Experts Say Spiritual Roots Will Aid in Coping With Catastrophe | Pray and connect with others, advise nation's chaplains. (Sept. 11, 2001)
Fear and Hate | In times like this, as in all other times, Christians have a responsibility to love above all else. (Sept. 11, 2001)
God's Message in the Language of Events | In the face of evil, we must focus on keeping our hearts right. (Sept. 11, 2001)
Yahoo has also compiled aid organization contact information, closure notification, and survivor lists.
The Text This Week, a resource for pastors, has collected sermons and reflections in response to the Sept. 11 events.
The BBC has compiled reactions from world leaders (with video).
President Bush addressed the nation on Tuesday evening (video | transcript). He also released a statement Tuesday afternoon. Bush first learned of the World Trade Center tragedy while preparing to speak to schoolchildren in Sarasota, Fla.. There, he asked Amercians for a moment of silence for the victims.
Slate.com explained who responds to crisis situations.
An Interpol report details the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.