Public expressions of emotion aren’t wrong, but they should have...
Sujo John was in the North Tower when the planes hit the World Trade Center on September 11 2001. He says his life was completely ‘rewritten’.
Sujo and his wife Mary arrived in the US from Calcutta, India, back in 2001. They had $50 to their name and no prospects, but both managed to find jobs at the World Trade Center and they were expecting their first child. Sujo worked in the North Tower, while Mary was stationed in the South Tower.
‘September 11, 2001, started off as the most beautiful day in New York City, and then everything changed forever,’ Sujo says.
The building shook as the first plane hit the North Tower, and Sujo and his colleagues were forced to dodge large fireballs as they headed for the stairs. ‘I realised that hundreds, thousands of people were joining us onto that stairwell,’ he recalls. ‘[We all had] one thing in common: the fear of death written on every face.’
It took Sujo an hour and twenty minutes to climb down the 81 levels to the Plaza Level, where staff normally gathered to socialise and tourists congregated to take pictures. ‘But now this place of life has been turned into a place of death,’ Sujo says. ‘Hundreds of bodies of people that have jumped out of the building, of people on those planes, the engine of American Airlines Flight 11 and a few slabs of the plane lying right in the middle of that plaza.’
Sujo desperately wanted to get to the South Tower to find his wife, but the ground was beginning to shake and he realised the South Tower was imploding. ‘For the first time in my life, I’m confronted with this reality of my mortality,’ he explains.
Crying out to God
Huddled together with around 15 or 20 other people, Sujo suddenly recalled Romans 10:13: ‘Whosevershall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
‘I felt the Lord speak to me, saying: “These people that are with you, where are they going without me?”’ he says. ‘So I start crying out “Jesus!” A boldness comes upon me that I’ve never experienced before and I asked these people to call upon the name of the Lord.
‘What happened was truly interesting. Nobody tried to argue or debate with me. Nobody called upon any other God or tried any other form of religion or faith. How could they? The Bible that I believe in says there’s only one name under all of heaven and earth by which we can be saved and that is the sweet, matchless name of Jesus.’
An act of bravery
Praying over the thunderous noise and under the falling rubble, Sujo felt sure he was about to die. The rest of the group had been buried in the rubble, leaving him and an FBI agent, who also happened to be a Christian. Despite struggling to breathe, they grabbed hold of each other and began to pray.
While Sujo managed to make his way out of the wreckage, the FBI agent went back into the North Tower to help others escape. ‘This brave FBI agent died that day,’ Sujo shares. ‘He’s left behind four children and a wife.’
Another chance at life
Sujo and Mary, who also incredibly survived, were reunited later that day. ‘It was the most amazing moment; one moment of truth when we truly believed our lives were spared. We hugged and cried,’ he says.
He believes God has given each of them a new chance in life: ‘I think sometimes, in a way, God has helped me rewrite the story of my life; that’s what God does. On September 11, if I would have died, I would have made it to heaven, but I would have stood before the Lord empty, because until then I was not someone that would be very involved in sharing my faith. But since September 11, 2001, every opportunity that I get God has used that to share the gospel. So God, in his mercy, has allowed me to redeem my time.’
He adds: ‘I’ve come to tell you, God can redeem your time; God can rewrite your story.’
Watch Sujo John tell his story HERE
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