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For Christ and His Kingdom

The week before September 11, 2001, America's "Tuesday of Terror," 32-year-old Todd Beamer and his wife, Lisa, had spent a romantic getaway in Italy. The couple, both 1991 graduates of Wheaton College, returned home Monday rested and relieved to be reunited with their boys David, 3, and Andrew, 1.

But extended family time would have to wait. The next morning Todd, an executive with Oracle, had to be at a sales reps meeting in Northern California. He kissed Lisa, who was five months pregnant with their third child, goodbye and headed to the Newark, New Jersey, airport where he boarded United Flight 93 for San Francisco.

About 90 minutes into the westbound flight, the Boeing 757 was approaching Cleveland when three hijackers onboard identified themselves to the 34 passengers and 7 crew and proceeded to take control of the cockpit and cabin. The plane, now piloted by the would-be terrorists, made a sharp turn to the south.

Todd reached for the GTE airfone in the back of one of the seats and was connected to a GTE supervisor on the ground. He explained to her what was happening and indicated that he and the other passengers would not likely survive. He presumed the pilot and co-pilot were already seriously injured or dead.

The GTE employee explained to Todd what had already happened at the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Upon hearing this news, Todd must have realized that the hijackers were intent on crashing the plane into another prominent building near Washington D.C. (the direction they were now headed). Even though the hijacker nearest to Todd had a bomb belted around his middle, the former Wheaton College baseball player told the GTE representative that he and a few others were determined to do whatever they could to disrupt the terrorists' plan.

He then asked the person on the other end of the phone to call his wife and report their entire conversation to her (including how much he loved her). Before hanging up, this committed Christian and devoted family man, who taught Sunday school each week, asked the GTE employee to pray the Lord's Prayer with him. With the sound of passengers screaming in the background, she complied. When they concluded the prayer, Scott calmly said, "Help me, God. Help me, Jesus."

The GTE employee then heard Todd say, apparently to the other three businessmen he'd alluded to earlier: "Are you ready, guys? Let's roll!" With that the phone went dead.

Within a few minutes, Flight 93 was nose diving into a rural field 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, where it left a crater 40 feet deep as it disintegrated upon impact. Because Todd Beamer was committed to Jesus Christ and his Kingdom, he was willing to do whatever was necessary to put the needs of others above his own fear of danger and imminent death. Thanks to him and the three other businessmen who joined with him, the intended target in the nation's capital was not reached and who knows how many lives were saved because of that. No one on the ground was killed.

According to Todd's wife, Lisa, "His example of courage has given me, my boys (and my unborn baby) a reason to live."

That's what can happen when we, like Jesus Christ, put the needs of others ahead of our own.

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