Partner Letter for 9/11/2021
On August 2, 1981 I took a ride from Columbus and 80th down to the World Trade Center. I’ll never forget the day, because it was the day before I was to start work on the Commodity Exchanges. J. Aron and Co. had hired me out of Yale and I had taken a 1 month sub lease to give me a place to sleep while I got my bearings. I came off of the Subway inside the mall complex underneath what I would come to know as 4 WTC. I walked up the stairs and turned to see the Twin Towers – rising to the sky. I had never been this close before. I walked out to the corner of Liberty and Church – the Burger King to my left, the Merril Lynch building behind me and downhill a few blocks ahead of me was the West Side Highway. On the other side of the Highway was a chain link fence … then the Hudson River. What we know now to be the World Financial Center was not even started at that time. I went into the Burger King and ordered my supper. I came back outside and sat down on the curb to eat and was so amazed by the towers that at one point I laid on my back to gaze upward at the Twin Towers. I had never seen anything like these. We didn’t carry cameras in those days, but the image is burned in my mind to this day. In fact, whenever I look toward lower Manhattan, I do so with sadness and disappointment – remembering the majesty of those twin towers – and thinking of the cowardly compromise made to build only one tower in their place.
20 years passed – I worked every day in and around those towers. I traded silver, gold, stock index futures, sugar and crude oil. I taught bible studies and distributed a weekly gospel letter that I personally wrote and I led prayer. People were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit.
I met my wife, Annie DiFiore. 1984 We were married. 1985 Danielle, our daughter was born. 1992 We were ordained, 1993 We incorporated Faith Exchange Fellowship, Inc. 1994. We launched the ProVision Network in our home. 1995 We started the church in 90 West Street on the 16th floor. 1997 The church grew and we moved to the 18th floor, taking more space. 1998 We had to move our services downtown a block to Marriott Financial Center due to the growth of the church. 2001 Our sound equipment was carefully stored in a large van, so that we could load in and out for Wednesday and Sunday services.
On July 22, 2001 Jesse Duplantis came to minister. We held the meeting at the Regent Hotel on Wall Street. The Grand Ballroom was completely filled for Jesse as we brought the Faith Exchange Praise Team to the stage. The spirit was high and YHWH brought a word through me, “The walls are coming down.” As I spoke them I understood them to me that the resistance to the gospel was coming down. I never thought for one minute that “Walls” would come down. If there was ever a reason to watch your words, this prophecy comes to mind. The ceiling is very high in that Grand Ballroom and etched in the ceiling are the stars … and the zodiac constellations … similar to what you might see at Grand Central Station. Some of our members didn’t think it appropriate to have church there, since they felt the zodiac was connected to the occult. It was then, and is still today my view that we are to preach the gospel to all people and in all places. After all, the name of Yahshua (Jesus) is the name ABOVE any and every other name. And, we are to go into ALL the world and preach the gospel. We are to give satan, no place.
On September 7th, 2001 I had a meeting with Hayseed Stephens. He was leading a group to find oil in Israel. He had played for the NY Jets in 1960 and was a cowboy through and through. That night I wept with my friend Glenn Bolton as his young wife died prematurely. On that Sunday, the 9th, Glenn danced during praise and worship – for 30 minutes – elongating our service – and I wept some more. It was only his utter exhaustion that caused him to stop for his worship was glorious and his pain was devastatingly apparent to all of us. He danced. We sang and YHWH was worshiped on this tough day. On Sept. 10th, while at home I was considering the days that led up to that day and I prayed. An hour into the prayer I began to cry. I didn’t know why. I stood and looked toward the south east to where the city is from my house and I lifted my hands to pray for Christtown – the name we had given NYC. She is the City of Righteousness, She is the Healthiest and Safest major city in the world. She is the home of the burden removing, yoke destroying people of God, friends of the Holy Spirit and carriers of His contagious power. Grief took over and I fell to my knees and then to my side where I curled up and travailed. I had never done this before. My wife found me this way and was very concerned. “Dan, Dan, Dan, DAN – what’s wrong?” I opened my eyes to see her. “I guess a Pastor just needs a good cry from time to time.”
On the morning of 9-11-2001, I met with Richard Johnson uptown – Midtown East at a place called Michaels on East 54th Street. We prayed together. We talked about sharing the gospel with business people in NYC, Connecticut, NJ, Texas, FL, MN, CA, Mexico and beyond. As we prepared to leave around 8:30 … all was quiet. It was a beautiful Tuesday morning and the streets were packed with activity. I was moving toward the subway to head down to where our staff would be arriving for work I had a second meeting scheduled with Jay Plourde at his home on Park Avenue twenty blocks south and I was walking to his house when the first plane hit the towers. It was 8:46 am. Our church was there and my team was there. We were just a block south and we were all in shock. At this point, we had no way of knowing that this was a terrorist attack planned in the pits of hell and executed by Muslims who hated America who intended to kill as many people as they could. 18 minutes later the second plane hit and we knew this was no accident … Inside Jay’s apartment, we made calls to find the people that we loved to see if we could be of service and we prayed. “Let the towers stand. Don’t let them fall.” As we prayed people were doing all that they could to flee the towers. “Let the towers stand, don’t let them fall.” The second tower, the south tower which was closest to our church fell at 9:59. The first tower, the north tower was hit at 8:46 and fell at 10:03.
2763 people died in NYC that day. 343 firefighters, 23 NYC police officers, 37 Port Authority Police officers and the terrorists responsible for these murders are included in that number. 50 – 60,000 people worked in those towers at that time. Many people were saved because the towers stood from 8:46 until 10:03.
Every person working for and attending Faith Exchange lived through this. Mary Falconer – 70 years old at the time – left the Bible study on Wall Street and walked north through the dust to her home on the Upper East side. Steve DiMaggio – Our Helps ministry leader – saw the planes hit and heard the voice of God to run into the Subway … the heat of the blast which killed many down on the street … went over his head as he ran down the stairs to escape. Other members tell of how they were led to leave the city or go a different way. Their children who were going to school were escorted away from the World Trade Center and tell stories of safety and protection.
20 years later we are still holding services in lower Manhattan. We lost our facilities in 90 West Street on that day, but we did not miss a single service. We were forced to move uptown to the Marriott Marquis – for a time and then over to Wall Street where we met in the Regent Hotel. The fear and the sense of loss that we felt was great and everyone we met was in shock and grieving. Personally, I walked the streets dressed in a black shirt and a clerical collar. The residents, firefighters, police officers and those working to find their loved ones in the “hole” referred to me as “Father”. I prayed, I listened, I hugged and I offered support to as many as came to me. 20 hours each day for over 100 days you could find me there.
Our city and nation has not fully recovered from this terrorist attack. For those of us in lower Manhattan, we will “Never Forget.” Our friends and our family were brutally murdered that day. Hate was intentionally carried out and with great courage these people are back at work and living in spite of the attacks they have endured. You could see the resolve in the faces of many, not all, the day after the attacks and to this day.
Every year since then, Faith Exchange has gathered to remember, to give thanks and to proclaim that New York City is Christtown. She is the city of Righteousness, not the city of sin. She is the healthiest and safest city in the world and the home of the burden removing, yoke destroying people of God, friends of the Holy Spirit and carriers of His contagious power.
Divine Providence is always with us. God teaches us in every person we meet and through every experience we have if we let Him. 9-11 marked me. 9-11 has shaped me and is in every decision I make to this day. Recently, we signed another 10 year lease to serve lower Manhattan. We must honor the blood that was spilt. We must continue to hold our place … where the love of money, yea, the root of all evil is the strongest. We will pray, serve and preach … We will remember and we will support the courage of those who courageously live on …
9-11-2021 is twenty years from that day. I was there on 9-11-1981. I was there on 9-11-2001 and I will be there on 9-11-2031. God’s callings are real and ignoring them or rebelling against them were never an option for me.
2021 is the year of joy, victory, freedom and promotion …
Come join us this year at 95 Leonard St to share, to worship and to remember on that day 9-11-2021.
Pastor Dan Stratton