EDITOR'S NOTE: For videos, stories and other resources exploring the legacy of 9/11 and how to reach Muslims, visit www.lovingmuslims.com.
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)--When the jets slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field a decade ago, the life of Joseph Rose* began to change.
A Christian college student, he knew little about Islam. He didn't know a single Muslim personally. His mother called and warned him to shave off his full beard, fearing "hate attacks" by angry people mistaking him for a Muslim.
"I left the beard. No one attacked me," Rose recalled.
As the initial shock of 9/11 wore off, something inside him spurred Rose to understand the forces shaking the world. "I began to read about Islam," he said. "I knew not all Muslims were terrorists, but I was casually driven to understand 'my enemy.'"
Later, he got a job as a newspaper photographer in Ohio and moved into an apartment there. His next door neighbor was a young Muslim from the Middle East.
"He invited me over to his apartment for Arabic coffee and chat. We would talk for hours and watch music videos from his home country. I asked him questions about his country and his religion. He smoked. He bowled. He worked at a hospital and helped his brother open a coffee shop. He was not a terrorist. He didn't even seem religious. Just an average guy."
Over the next few years, Rose met more young Muslims who were "just like thousands of other young people in America" -- just as spiritually hungry, just as in need of the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Today Rose works in communications for the International Mission Board. He covers stories about what God is doing among the nations and continues to nurture friendships with Muslims.
"Through these experiences and encounters, God has called me to dedicate my life to working with and around Muslims, sharing life and Truth with them," Rose said. "If it weren't for 9/11, I might not be where I am today. I might not have seven guys named Mohammed listed in my phone. I might not have traveled to nine Muslim countries before the age of 30. God used this tragic event to call me out of the darkness of apathy and ignorance toward Muslims into the light of service and presence among this vast people."
That's one "9/11 story." There are countless others. Every person responded differently to the bloodiest attack on American ground since Pearl Harbor.
The historical forces that led to the Sept. 11 attacks are fairly clear: longstanding hatred of America and the West among radicalized Muslims, the rise of terrorism as a political weapon, the spread of al-Qaida and other jihadist groups, ongoing fallout from the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, reaction to U.S. involvement in the first Gulf War, American support for Israel. The list goes on.
The long-term spiritual impact of the event on international missions, however, is more difficult to discern. Christian workers have faced hostility since the beginning of the evangelical missions movement. They've often found themselves caught in the crossfire of wars and violent change. But 9/11 added a new layer of challenge. Read More