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Leaning on faith

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7-8.)

Many Lawrence County churches this week will have special services in observance of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, just as they did one year ago today.

For some people, the tragedies caused a sense of urgency about life. What will happen next? Will life ever be the same? What are the most important things in my life?

Some churches reported an increase in attendance in the weeks following the terrorist attacks.

Steve Judson, the new pastor of the Coal Grove Memorial United Methodist Church said records indicate there were more people filling the pews for about a month and a half after the attacks.

"Attendance records indicate it was up 10 to 15 percent," Judson said. "I heard that was the case in other churches as well."

Unfortunately, Judson said once the crisis faded from our immediate view, some people grew comfortable again and stopped going to church.

Judson said some people asked the question "why?" Others were in a state of shock for a while.

Judson said he told those who came to him looking for answers that God has given each one of us free will. What we do with it is up to us.

"We can choose to do good or evil. I have a hand and I can choose to punch someone or I can choose to feed a homeless person," Judson said. "The terrorists used this free will to do evil."

Judson said one thing some people began to think about in the weeks after the terrorist attacks is that life is short.

"I think it was really brought home to younger people," Judson said. "It caused some of them to explore a relationship with God. It was a wake up call, as national tragedies usually are. Some people did look for answers."

Judson said a lot of people look at Christianity as something nice in the end: heaven, when actually, Christianity is a wonderful way to live. Some people discovered this in the days after the tragedies when they began to search for answers.

"Jesus came to give us life more abundantly," Judson said. "And it's a better life than if He wasn't a part of it."

Father Thomas Nau, pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church, said he didn't notice any increased attendance following the Sept. 11 attacks,

but the subject was a topic for discussion in church as well as away from it.

His church had a special presentation on the Islamic faith, so parishioners could better understand it. More than 200 people attended it.

Nau said some people indeed have come to a deeper sense of a purpose in their life, and the presence of God in their life as a result of the tragedies.

"Some realized how important their faith is to them, that faith is a part of their life, and it helps them deal with

these situations," Nau said. "Any time there's an experience such as this, there is the chance something good

can come of it. There can be an opportunity for growth in one's relationship with God. There can be a deepening or awakening of faith. It depends on how people respond to it."

Nau said the special significance of the cross is very evident in times such as these.

"On the cross, there was great pain and suffering. The Lord encountered evil.

He faced rejection, because of his own goodness," Nau said. " There is suffering in life. Christ experienced it. But in the cross there is life, there is hope." Teresa Moore/The Ironton Tribune