Personal letter from Francis

Dear Beloved Friends and Family,

The events of recent days have been staggering, like nothing else in most of our lifetimes. We are in a new world, one that is significantly darker, significantly more unstable; but we are not trapped in this darkened world without God. Indeed, the promise of the Lord remains true. He said, "darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you." The outcome of this emergence of divine glory in the midst of terrible darkness, is that "nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising" (Isaiah 60:1-3).

So, while we are called to pass through this valley of weeping, ahead of us is the glory of God. Indeed, even now the glory of the Lord is rising. There has never been more prayer ascending from Americans. Catholics and Lutherans, Baptists and Pentecostals -- millions are meeting in cathedrals, churches, storefronts and homes turning to God in prayer.

Peter Jennings, anchor for ABC News, on Tuesday said "Prayer . . . is becoming the fabric of life in America." Prayer vigils in hundreds of cities, in the national Capitol, in streets and hospitals are purifying the soul of our nation. Steve Case, president of AOL-Time Warner, wrote, ". . . our founding fathers put their trust in God, and perhaps we should as well. I hope people of all faiths and all walks of life were comforted to see members of Congress on the steps of the Capitol last night singing "God Bless America" and to see both houses of Congress begin their sessions with prayer this morning." On Tuesday night, our president quoted the twenty-third psalm in his Tuesday night speech saying, "Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, for You are with us."

For these things alone, let us be thankful. Yet, God has been doing more. Even in the midst of trauma, many, many miracles of grace are being documented. Virtue and character are being forged and multitudes are closer to God and each other. Christians from all walks of life are uniting.

There are those who, undoubtedly, will see this as the wrath of God released against our nation, going so far as to consider the destruction of the World Trade Center as the "fall of Babylon." While these scriptural images are indeed striking in their similarity -- "the smoke of her burning" and kings and merchants "mourning" -- let us not leap to presumption. Older Christians might recall the Chernobyl disaster in Russia. Just after it occurred, prophecies circuited throughout the body of Christ announcing this event was the fulfillment of Rev 8. (A fallen star called "Wormwood" poisons a third of the earth). Instead of pouring our hearts out in prayer for the Russian people, many Christians stood back, inoculated against heart felt intercession by prophetic intellectualism.

We cannot afford to take that route today. Indeed, I do not believe that what happened on September 11th was a fulfillment of Revelation 17 and 18. In the opening and closing statements of these two chapters (the summary thoughts), Babylon is described as a "woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus" (Rev 17:6). In the concluding verse, the Lord promises to judge Babylon because, "In her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth" (Rev 18:24). This is not America He is talking about.

My wife and I were in northern New Jersey on the Monday before the disasters. We flew out of Newark Airport, looking at the World Trade Center from the Jersey side. Across the harbor from the World Trade Center we saw the Statue of Liberty, which is the world's symbol of freedom and hope, not persecution. Indeed, American Christians have enjoyed unprecedented religious liberty. No, this attack was not the judgment of God against America, but the attack of the enemy because of America's stand with Israel. Those who struck our people had long been critical of America and, in their own words, it is because of our loyalty and defense of the Jewish people..

As one reader wrote, "I believe NYC itself was targeted by the terrorists specifically because of the large population of Jewish folks there. The Islamic fundamentalists are more concerned with Israel and our protection of them than they are with our financial district or economic strength. After all, their economic resources are largely tied to ours. Indirectly our oil consumption funds their terrorist programs."

There will be those who ask, "What about God's promise, that those who bless Israel would be blessed?" The outcome of this event is not over, beloved. The Lord also promises, "Your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they shall come out against you one way and shall flee before you seven ways" (Deut. 28:7). The Lord does not say we will not have enemies or that our enemies will not strike. His promise is that when foes attack they will be utterly routed. In the place of the attack will be a sevenfold blessing.

We are already seeing some of these blessings manifest: greater prayer and greater unity all across America. Even our allies show of support has been deeply touching. But another blessing that will arise is, instead of this assault causing us to back off from Israel, we are purchasing with our tears even greater oneness with Israel. We now can pray with greater understanding and greater passion because we, too, have experienced the effect of demonic terrorism.

Another promise I personally am claiming is that, because of this very event, there will be a great exodus of souls from Islam. The despicableness of these events will cause many moderate and reasonable Muslims to be deeply ashamed and they will turn from Islam. Thus, we need to pray for the Arab community, and reach to them during this time. They will undoubtedly expect rejection and receive persecution, but let us determine at this time especially to reveal Christ to them. I am standing in faith that, for every American who died in this assault, 100,000 Muslims will turn to Christ and be saved. My prayer is that they, in turn, will eventually lead countless millions to the Lord.

Let me speak about one more thing: there is a prophecy, supposedly by 17th century writer Nostradamus, that supposedly warns of these specific events. According to his prophecy, this event will lead to the end of the world. Before you panic, let me remind you that, as Christians, the "end of the world" began when we were born again. I have never read Nostradamus, but those who study his writings say that this prophecy is not what he originally wrote and, like many things on the internet, it is a hoax.

Beloved, in this time of heartache and trial, let us comfort one another, being assured that God is causing all things to work for good. Let us never think that the Lord, who knew this was about to happen, was somehow aloof from it. I tell you most solemnly, there were tears in the eyes of God on September 11th. Yet, even now, His glory is beginning to rise on our land. A great turning to the Almighty is occurring. Though days and times of darkness may increase, His promise is that nations shall come to our light and kings to the brightness of our rising.

Francis Frangipane