Lubbock couple from NYC remembers 'scary, surreal' 9/11 attack - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Lubbock couple from NYC remembers 'scary, surreal' 9/11 attack

Pastor John and Ilena Wagner Pastor John and Ilena Wagner

We all remember the devastating images from September 11, 2001, when the Twin Towers fell and thousands of innocent lives were lost. For one Lubbock family, the attacks were more than just images on a television screen.

Pastor John and Ilena Wagner officiate at Turning Point Community Church in Lubbock, but they grew up thousands of miles away. Pastor Wagner was raised about 25 minutes outside of New York City and Ilena grew up in Manhattan.

"You could see the twin towers from my bedroom window," Pastor Wagner said.

The pair lived in the NYC area for the better part of 20 years, so when the towers were attacked 11 years ago, they both lost a piece of their hearts.

"Going back after 9/11 and not seeing it there was like a gaping hole. It was very emotional," Pastor Wagner said.

Pastor Wagner says he was on his way home from a dentist appointment when he got a phone call from a friend telling him his home had become Ground Zero.

"I thought he was joking but then, when I turned on the television and actually stood there to watch the towers fall. That was surreal, that was scary. It was a moment you never forget," Pastor Wagner said.

Ilena says she was stunned by the terrorism, and never imagined the skyline she had grown up with could be torn down.

"You never ever think that such a thing could ever happen," Ilena said.

The Wagners have lived in Lubbock for the past few years, but they still visit New York a couple times a year. They say they know the lives lost in the tragedy can never be replaced, but they believe God has a plan.

"The Untied States stood ever so united... I think the spirit they were trying to break was actually fortified," Ilena said.

Pastor Wagner says it's hard to imagine acts like this could happen in the United States, but that ultimately, it brings communities together.

"That sense of community, that sense that we need God. Things like this really can happen in a fallen world, but there's hope, there's new life, there's new purpose that comes from having a relationship with the one who can save us from all of that," Pastor Wagner said.

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