I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:35-40 (The Message)
Today, in the midst of all the media about 9/11 and its aftermath eleven years later, I read a story about the family of Peter C. Alderman, a 25 year old man who died in the attack on the World Trade Center. Peter’s last message was “We’re stuck. The room is filling with smoke. I’m scared.” As they mourned their son and brother, the family looked for a way to honor in his life in a positive way. Out of their grief was born the Peter C. Alderman Foundation whose mission is “to heal the emotional wounds of victims of terrorism and mass violence by training indigenous health workers and establishing trauma treatment systems in post-conflict countries around the globe.” Contrary to the American standards of psychiatric care, it only takes six to twelve treatments at the total cost of $33 – $55 dollars each to help the victims of war and conflict to overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression. The Aldermans took the emotions of their son’s last words, “I’m scared,” and projected them upon others in similar circumstance. They wanted to help people that their son might never have met, but who shared his feelings. Though I have never met them, I expect the Aldermans would decline the description of extraordinary to their story. They just did what they could. I think one of the messages of 9/11 is this: to live each day as if it is your last and to take your own circumstances and experiences and use them to help someone else. While not all of us can do what the Aldermans have done and establish a foundation that is impacting people around the world, we can all do something. Today, on 9/11, I had the privilege of delivering two weeks’ worth of food collected by my Sunday School class and stored in our church’s food pantry to one of our local schools to supply a needy family. On Monday, their daughters were caught taking food from the school cafeteria. They revealed that they had not eaten over the weekend because both their parents are out of work and there was no money for food. What a great privilege to see the joy of their teachers and school administrators at being able to bless that family quickly and simply. Out of that experience, comes another opportunity to begin the weekend food program that I have been trying to get started at another elementary school for over a year. For some reason, that principal did not see the need for our help, but this new school is eager to accept whatever we can give if it will positively impact “their” kids. So, while today is a day of loss and of grieving for the men, women and children who were killed eleven years ago today, it is also a day for action. What will you do to help the hurting, hungry and helpless of this world? Everyone can do something. What will your something be? Service is the best memorial you can leave.