Seventeen Minutes :: By April Kelcy

Lin and her colleagues were already at the office. Welles, only 24, was also in the South Tower. At 8:46 a.m. a plane slammed into the North Tower opposite them. Seventeen minutes later United Flight 175 sliced diagonally through the 78th to 84th floors of the South Tower. It was September 11, 2001.

Lin’s group survived, stunned and in shock, the floor teetering beneath them. Blades of sharp, jagged metal jutted from every angle. Surrounded by scorching heat and fire, they could hardly breathe. The thick, oily smoke, dripping with blood and toxics oozed into a pit of hell. The stench was overwhelming.

Out of the inferno a voice emerged. Calling. A voice of both calm and authority. In the odd maze of peculiar stairwell pathways, and on one of the floors that had suffered a direct hit by a massive flying bomb, he had found the only stairwell that was still viable.

He called to them. When they did not move, he came to them. They first saw the fiery color of red emerge through the chokingly thick darkness. It was a red and white bandana tied over his nose, trying to keep out the smoke. No one knew who it was.

Welles called and then he came. He led them down seventeen flights of stairs to the 61st floor. There they had to take another stairwell, but were on their way to safety. He went back up. There were others to rescue. One of them he literally carried out draped over his shoulders.

The collapse came in just 57 minutes. Welles’ body was not recovered until March 19, 2002. It was still a long time after that before his family knew the story, and that he had gone back into the inferno to retrieve just one more.

Let the phrase “just one more” settle on your heart and mind. If you had a family member still inside that fateful day, wouldn’t you have been praying, “Dear God, just one more”? At every disaster scene, at a mass shooting, or when people are buried under quake rubble, there is someone pleading in tears, “Please Lord, just one more.” One more rescue. One smile. What I would give for one more hug. “Please Lord,” we plead.

I have no idea if Welles believed in Jesus. However, the Christ imagery in his story is one we should not pass by lightly.

The woman draped over his shoulders recalls how the shepherds of Israel would carry a lost sheep back to the fold. “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4).

The significance of the red bandana cannot be missed. Out of the darkness, it was like the blood of Jesus that comes to save. It comes to save the lost, the terrified, and the dying, that they might live again.

Welles knew there was only ONE way out. Jesus said, “I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life. No one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

Welles voice was described as one of calm and authority. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me…” (Psalm 23:4). Jesus also said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18).

Welles called to them. And then, when they did not move, he came to them. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

Jesus said, “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). We need to allow ourselves to become aware of divine things. 9-11 was not the end; 10:11 is. Because, unlike Welles or any others that perish in disasters or by other means, Jesus returned ALIVE!

Imagine now your loved one was inside the scene of a mass shooting. As you watched each stretcher emerge, wouldn’t you be pleading “just one more”? Jesus is also saying, “Please Father, just one more!” His “pen” that writes every name in the Book of Life was formed with monstrous nails that split His bone and sinew, dipped in an inkwell of His blood. The one He speaks of, and the one He is waiting for, may be someone you love.

It could even be you.

Yet the time of the Rapture is quickly approaching. Are you ready for lift-off?

April Kelcy

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