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He Was Preparing for Me
MANY PEOPLE wonder where God was September 11, 2001, but I don’t: He was preparing a place for me. When I went to Manhattan three days after the bombing, it was my ...

HE WAS PREPARING FOR ME

Officer Bob Rice

New Jersey Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Team

MANY PEOPLE wonder where God was September 11, 2001, but I don’t: He was preparing a place for me. When I went to Manhattan three days after the bombing, it was my first trip to “The City,” even though I only lived 96 miles away. To be effective in helping fellow public safety employees cope with the horrors they were living through, I was taken on a tour of Ground Zero. My first impression was a lasting one: I hope I never have to see anything like that again! Not only was the carnage overwhelming, but I was also out of my element—my CISM training was secular, and I was working with chaplains. Not good, I thought.

I was raised in a nominally religious home and exposed to various beliefs over the years, but nothing “took.” At Ground Zero, working with three Christian chaplains, God made my spiritual condition clear: I was lost and on my way to hell. Under their influence I began to change gradually, starting with my filthy language. Next came my “heart” infidelity. When one of the chaplains saw me looking lustfully at attractive women, he asked me to name my favorite and least-favorite food choices. I told him “prime rib” and “chicken nuggets.”

He said, “Think of your wife as ‘prime rib’ and those women as ‘chicken nuggets.’” You may laugh, but it helped turn my thoughts to where they should be.

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Bob Rice at Ground Zero

One day I wanted something to read, and a chaplain gave me the Gospel of John. When he asked what I thought, I said I didn’t understand it. He said, “Ask God to help you.” When I asked how, he said, “Just talk to God like you would a friend.” (He also suggested that I not use foul language!) When it came time for the chaplains to return home, we all were in tears. As one left, he named a chaplain who had just come into town, and told me to ask him to “finish what I started.”

I knew something was happening in my heart, so the next day I sought out the other chaplain. As we talked I realized I needed Jesus in my life. So I prayed then and there to accept Christ as my personal Savior and Lord. That began a transformation that culminated in the salvation of both my wife and my son. But that didn’t end the story. Eight years later I became “one of them”—now I’m a chaplain, too!

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