As the nation mourns and prepares to fight, stories of courage, grace, and compassion continue to come out of the war zone around the World Trade Center. The day after the calamity, CT heard stories of despair and hope from Christians in neighborhood churches.

Thirty years ago, just as the World Trade Center's two towers were going up, nearby Primitive Christian Church went down in flames. College student Marcos Rivera came running back to his church to find a gutted hollow. Now, like much of the New York church, Primitive has rebuilt and is flourishing. Other church leaders describe Primitive as a place where good teaching and the grace of God have built a people with a character that can stand hard times. It was tested Tuesday morning by the nuclear-like explosion that flew over the neighborhood.

Rivera, now pastor of his church, was sipping his coffee Tuesday morning. He had just picked it up at the Egyptian diner on the corner. On his way to the church, he glanced over his right shoulder at the towers as he does every morning. "In the neighborhood everyone seems to do this," Rivera says. "We grew up with them being built and as part of our lives."

Tuesday seemed another normal day of shuffling and reshuffling the church's schedule.

Across the street, the Rev. Nelson Santiago was splashing some water on his face at the kitchen sink, which has a window framing the towers. As usual, his mind was checking out his to-do list for the day. He didn't notice the fires on Tower One.

His secretary came into the church, saying, "Pastor, the trade tower is on fire." Rivera wondered if she was joking.

"No!" he responded.

"Yes, Pastor, come out."

Santiago and his wife Angela had finally noticed the burning tower outside their window, but they ...

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