Witt: CCMA's 'Community Day' a call to remember the tragedy of 9-11

By Greg Miller
STAR STAFF
gmiller@starhq.com

  
The "Community Day" being sponsored at Kiwanis Park on Wednesday by the Carter County Ministerial Association (CCMA) will be a call to remember the tragedy of 9-11, according to the Rev. Steve Witt, CCMA president and pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church.
   "This will be a service to remember those who were lost and to remember the families that are left," Witt said. "It will be a time to remind Christians of who we are and why God placed us here on this earth. It will be a service to share answers to the tough questions people have had since 9-11 and what is going to happen next."
   Given the fact that the CCMA was working on "a very short window to prepare this memorial service," the event "has come together well," Witt said. Churches actively participating in the event include First United Methodist Church, Immanuel Baptist Church, Elizabethton Alliance Church, Oak Street Baptist Church, West Side Christian Church, First Free Will Baptist Church and the Church of God of Prophecy.
   Local groups will provide special music, beginning at 5:30 p.m. At 5:45 p.m., refreshments -- hot dogs, popcorn, sodas and water -- will be served. The 7 p.m. service will feature a 21-gun-salute and taps, combined choirs, video excerpts and messages by local pastors.
   Witt encourages everyone to attend Wednesday's event. "This will be an important service that the entire area needs to attend," he said. "We will have great music and food and fellowship. Bring your lawn chairs, blankets or just come and sit on the grass. We want the opportunity to serve the people of our community. If you have questions and need answers and need peace security and rest from all the worry and anxiety of this life, we will offer real answers. Jesus said, 'Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'" (Matthew 11:28)
   Witt says he prays that last year's 9-11 attack on America has drawn Christians closer to the Lord. "This event was a tragedy, and I do not think this was God's will for us," Witt said. "Sin, which is rampant around this nation and throughout this world, brought on this tragedy. Jesus came to give life and to give it to us more abundantly (John 10:10). Sin is man not listening and following God's plan for them. These Islamics have embraced a religion that is not based on love. In the Christian faith, love is the fuel for all of our actions." (First Corinthians 13)
   "As Christians, we would never want to kill those who will not convert, quite the contrary, we are to 'bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us.'" (Matthew 5:44)
   "We will defend ourselves from the terrorists and I believe military action is necessary, however the only way to ultimately stop terrorism is to replace hate with love and the only way that can happen is for everyone to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior because First John 4:8b says, 'God is love.' My great prayer is that we as Christians are earning the hate these terrorists place on us because we are noted as a Christian nation.
   "Are we living for the Lord and serving Him as we should? Our passion should be Jesus and our hobbies should be anything else. I sense that many professing Christians have made the hobbies and pastimes of this world their passion, and Jesus Christ has become merely a hobby. I pray 9-11 has awakened us to the fact that the world truly needs Jesus and there can never be real peace without Jesus Christ."
   The primary reason for last year's 9-11 attack on America was because of the nation's Christian heritage, according to Witt.
   "We lost over 3,000 Americans on this day and as we looked on at the husbands and wives and young boys and girls whose lives were forever changed because of this hate crime, we ask the question 'why?' Is it because of our democracy? Is it because of our wealth as a nation?
   "I think these played roles in fueling the anger of our enemies against us, however I believe the main reason was that we are considered a Christian nation. I also believe it is because of our support of Israel as a nation. Our enemies cannot tolerate our love of Jesus Christ and support of Israel. I do not think that the average American Muslim would let their disagreement with us concerning Jesus escalate in hate crimes, however the radical fundamentalists would. Muslims do acknowledge Jesus as a prophet but they do not believe He is God in flesh (John 1:1-14). And because we believe Israel has the right to be a nation, the fundamentalists of Islam took action against us."
   Christians should start being even more aggressive about sharing their faith in Jesus Christ, Witt said. "I pray we as Christians do not wait for another attack but that we would increase our efforts to share the good news of Jesus Christ to everyone in Carter County and all the Tri-Cities, across this nation and around the world. Will there be further attacks? It seems likely, but we must pray for the Lord's protection, and to receive His protection we as believers need to be in His will.
   "God did not bring this tragedy on, mankind chose evil. If we as Christians will stop being apathetic about our faith, Scripture tells us, 'If my people who are called be my name will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.' (Second Chronicles 7:14) So I am asking the body of Christ to search where you are in the will of God and if you are not where God wants you to be, Now is the time to turn!"
   Witt says 9-11 has not changed his perspective of the world. "I have great hope for this world and I have never seen more clearly in my walk with God what it is He desires for me to do," Witt remarked. "He has called me, and I believe all Christians, to finish the job of sharing the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ and how He died on a cross and in three days did what no other could do, He came up out of the grave so we could be with Him forever in Heaven. I pray people will do what I did 11 years ago, invite Jesus to be their personal Savior and Lord.
   "I am on assignment here on earth and so is every Christian. Our home as Christians is in heaven. We will live only a short time on earth, 50-90 years, some more, some less, however we are going to be in eternity forever. So it makes sense to live for the One who has given us this gift of eternity in Heaven!"
   For more information about the "Community Day," call 543-5633.