Calling All Boats
Sep 18, 2022 | by The Fellowship
Perhaps no day in the history of the United States brought the citizens of this country to their knees seeking God’s help like the attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center, Manhattan Island, NY, on September 11, 2001. On that infamous day, 19 Islamic al-Qaeda extremists through airline hijackings and suicide attacks accomplished the deadliest terrorist attack in world history – 2,977 deaths and more than 6,000 injured.
The statistics could have been much worse because more than half a million people were on Manhattan that day. Once authorities realized what was happening, all modes of transportation, like subways, tunnels, and bridges, were totally shut down. The only way to get off Manhattan was by water from the south end of the island where ferry boat slips are located.
Widespread panic did not happen until the first of the twin towers collapsed. This caused Manhattan to be engulfed in a billowing cloud of acrid, black smoke with dust and debris filling the atmosphere. In a matter of minutes, people on the streets began to resemble zombies. Surrounded by a nightmare of destruction and people falling and jumping to their deaths, panicked survivors began fleeing to their only possible hope of escape – ferries or boats! They lined up in droves along the seawall, screaming for help and calling on God to save them. Some were so distraught that they jumped off the seawall and tried to swim to safety.
When the Coast Guard saw a boat nearly flip over because so many people were trying to get aboard, they quickly realized the enormity of the situation facing them. They immediately made a decision and sent out an urgent call for help to all boats of any type or description in the area. Within 15 to 20 minutes, the harbor was filled with hundreds of boats of every kind – from multiple tugboats to private boats, tour boats, and party boats. No one could ever remember seeing more boats converging on one place in such a short period of time!
At first, panicked survivors would get on any boat they could in order to escape -- no matter where it might be going. To bring some semblance of order to the chaos, some crews began using spray paint on bunk sheets to show the intended destination of their particular vessel.
Each boat took on as many people as possible. Because no one knew where the attacks had come from, there was fear that enemies could be getting on the boats with bombs. As one boat captain said, “We just ignored our fears and did what we had to do!” The scenes of people helping each other were everywhere and inspirational -- like the four businessmen who lifted an elderly woman and her German Shepherd seeing-eye dog over the side of a rescue boat.
All day long, hour after hour for almost nine hours, the boats never stopped ferrying people to safety. More than 500,000 citizens were rescued. One of the boat owners said, “It was the greatest thing I have ever been a part of.” In fact, this was the largest sea evacuation in history, bigger even than the famous Dunkirk where 339,000 soldiers were rescued over nine days.
Even though frail human beings cannot begin to imagine how our Lord will answer our prayers during times of great panic and overwhelming fear, He does not limit His response to what our finite minds can conjure up. The Bible presents example after example of His supernatural intervention in answer to prayer, like the parting of the Red Sea so the Israelites could escape the Egyptians during the Exodus; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego surviving the fiery furnace; and Daniel remaining unharmed during a night spent in a den of lions. The boat brigade God assembled on September 11, 2001, and the masses of people who were rescued is no less a miracle. How great is our God and greatly to be praised!
He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed; miracles that cannot be counted.