By Melanie Jones The Gadsden Times
He emailed a friend from his office on the 81st floor in the North Tower of the World Trade Center that he longed for purpose in his life. He was tired of warming a pew at his church.
He sent the email at 8:05 a.m. About 40 minutes later, events launched him into ministry in a way he could never have imagined or wanted.
A passenger plane piloted by terrorists crashed into the tower. His first thoughts were of his pregnant wife, Mary, who worked next door in the South Tower. Had it been hit, too? Cellphones weren’t working. He fought his way out of the sea of humanity racing down the stairwell to one of the floors to call her on a land line. It wasn’t working, either.
Sujo was among those to make it out of the building, but he didn’t rush to safety. Instead, he tried to make his way to the South Tower, which he could see had been hit, to find Mary.
Then his troubles magnified.
The South Tower collapsed.
As 110 floors’ worth of mortar and steel rained down around them, Sujo said in a phone interview, there were no atheists or agnostics around him.
“When the building was coming down, no one tried to argue against me as I urged them to cry out to God,” he says. Finally, the falling stopped.
“A blizzard of concrete dust and ash filled the atmosphere. I believe God directed me toward a man on the ground, who had a flashlight with him,” he recounts on his website, sujojohn.com. “I told the man that only Jesus could save us and that we had to live. When he stood up, I noticed ‘FBI’ inscribed on his jacket. We held hands to wade through the sea of debris. When I saw the flashing light atop an ambulance, we turned in that direction, toward the street. As we reached the badly damaged vehicle, it became easier to get away.
“The North Tower came down behind us.”
Sujo and his new acquaintance alternately walked and ran to safer parts of Manhattan, but the whole time Mary was foremost on his mind. He still couldn’t reach her by phone.
At noon, his phone rang. It was Mary. She had never made it to work that day. Her train reached the World Trade Center subway stop just minutes after the first plane hit. She had spent hours thinking he was dead.
“We came together at 39th Street near the ferry,” he writes. “As we saw one another, a wonderful sense of relief flowed through us — almost more than I could bear. We had been so close to believing we’d never see each other again.
“When we looked back toward the towers, we saw only a pile of smoking ash and rubble. God, in His mercy, had spared our lives.
“Thousands of innocent lives were lost on 9-11‐01. But history will testify of many Americans who faced terror with courage.”
“I salute the fallen and those who lived. I thank God for our bravest: police, firefighters and those who go in harm’s way to defend us. So many of them gave up their ‘tomorrow’ so that others could see theirs.”
Looking back, Sujo realizes his ministry began as he implored others to cry out to God in the midst of life-threatening tragedy.
It continued when he wrote up the events of the day and sent a mass email to friends and family that quickly went viral. Soon, he was the subject of interviews and talk shows.
And his ministry was born.
“It just happened right after 9/11,” he says.
That’s not to say the experience never challenged his faith.
“It was very challenging, watching people die around me,” he says.
But he had the three things he says people need to pull them through such times.
“Faith to hold on to,” he says. “Family to lean on. And a country to put your feet on.”
And though Sujo was born in India, America is his country. He moved to the U.S. just six months before September 11, 2001.
“I’ve fallen in love with America, the ideals of this nation,” he says.
“An American missionary brought me to Christ in India.”
Now he is bringing the message of Christ across America, including a presentation at North Glencoe Baptist Church at 10 a.m. Sunday to kick off the church’s annual Jamboree.
“It’s just been a great experience to travel the country and see the nation come to Christ,” he says.
But he doesn’t limit his ministry to North America.
While he’s spoken in all 50 states and Canada, he has also made seven trips to India and has an office in Europe.
In addition to simply bringing the message of Christ to the world, Sujo and his ministry also fight human trafficking through YouCanFree.Us.
“Living is dangerous, so why not risk your life on Jesus?” he asks.
The world needs peace, he says, “and Jesus is the only answer to the problem.”
He encourages people to invite friends to church Sunday who may be interested in hearing his story of survival but otherwise wouldn’t be interested in church.
“Everyone has a story in their lives,” he says.
And he wants Jesus to be a part of every one.