After 9/11, some Witnesses discovered therapeutic by | . helped leisure

Albert Mora couldn’t believe the events that were unfolding before his eyes.

Even 20 years later, Mora, who now lives in central California, clearly remembers the bright, sunny morning that went up in flames when he went to work in Brooklyn Heights, NY.

“It felt like I was on an action movie set, but no director ever came out yelling, ‘Cut!'” Mora said. “I’ve seen for myself that everything can change in the blink of an eye.”

Like so many, Mora was deeply shaken to witness such a tragedy. “I’ve never felt so sad,” he said. “In my apartment there was no way for me to see the columns of smoke every day. For a month we woke up to the sight of smoke and the smell of burning.”

Relief came as he turned to others who were struggling like him.

Mora has focused his life on helping others through his volunteer work as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “I love to share my hope with my daughter, my wife, my family – everyone around me. I try to offer comfort as best I can. Helping others helped me. “

Helping others has long been associated with better emotional well-being in psychological research. The book “The Healing Power of Doing Good: The Health and Spiritual Benefits of Helping Others” describes “strong” effects, even for helpers who have experienced trauma themselves.

Trauma was too common among the many volunteers at Ground Zero. Roy Klingsporn, a Brooklyn native who had volunteered almost every day for two months, remembered one time approaching a man in a golf cart near the makeshift morgue on the property.

“When I asked how he was doing, he burst into tears,” said Klingsporn, now from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “He said, ‘I’m sick of picking up body parts.'”

Within days of the attacks, Jehovah’s Witnesses assembled teams that spent hours each day in Lower Manhattan, Bibles in hand, to comfort everyone from the victims’ families to first responders battling physical and emotional exhaustion. It was work that changed the way the organization deals with disasters, with organized comfort ministry now an integral part of their response to natural disasters and even the pandemic.

The memory of the heartbreaking days he spent as one of those volunteers near the smoldering remains of the Twin Towers still stirs deep feelings in Robert Hendriks.

“It was very emotional and extremely difficult for me, but the faces of those I met on the street said everything,” said Hendriks, now US spokesman for the witnesses. “They needed comfort, and the best I could give them was a hug and a passage from the Bible.”

For Brown “Butch” Payne, the events of September 11, 2001 tore open old wounds and awakened vivid memories of war that the Vietnam veteran had tried to forget.

From his apartment in the East Village, Payne remembered the crowd of hectic people pouring north from Lower Manhattan. “The sight aroused a lot of emotions in me,” he said. “It shook me to the core.”

Payne found relief in providing help in the best way he knew. “Sharing the Bible’s message of hope has softened my blow,” he said.

Offering a shoulder to cry on also brought consolation to Klingsporn. “It has been satisfying to help my community,” he said.

Mora admits, “Sometimes I start looking at the world and again feel overwhelmed by the pain and suffering everywhere. But what has helped me is being there for others and sharing my reasons for hope.”

Mora reads articles on about dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. The practical suggestions and resources have been invaluable. “Many tend to drink too much or drown themselves in their jobs,” he said. “It’s so harmful.” Mora values ​​how the biblical articles encourage people to be balanced as they cope with life’s difficulties.

Payne feels the same way. In 2016, after 50 years of marriage, he lost his beloved wife to cancer. On days when his grief is overwhelming, Payne writes sincere letters that cheer his neighbors – and his own. He shares scriptures and resources that have helped him, such as articles on dealing with trauma and loss, on, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“Encouraging others to look to the future helps me do the same,” he said.

– Press release from Jehovah’s Witnesses

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