In My Seat

InMySeatMost of us can remember exactly where we were on that horrific Tuesday morning. Our world changed that day. A great deal was lost – almost 3000 lives, the dreams of families and friends, billions of dollars in destruction and damage, the sense of security and protection, and so much more.

Stories emerged from that day. Some of the stories were overwhelmingly tragic. Some captured heroic and courageous sacrifice. Some revealed people who had planned to be in one of those buildings or planes but escaped the carnage. People overslept and were late to work that day.  Some had appointments away from the office. Some missed their flight.

For an American Airlines pilot, a reassignment changed his future: “Steve Scheibner went to bed September 10, 2001, with his bags packed and ready to go. He was scheduled to be the pilot on American Airlines Flight 11 the next day. When he awoke in the morning, however, a rare last-minute substitution meant someone else would pilot that plane … the first plane that hit the World Trade Center on 9/11. Steve knows firsthand what it means to have someone else die in his place, not once … but twice” (from In My Seat).

Who was the man who took Steve Scheibner’s seat that fateful day? On that September morning, Tom McGuinness kissed his wife, Cheryl, goodbye at their Portsmouth, New Hampshire home. He was headed to Boston’s Logan airport to serve as co-pilot and first officer on American Airlines Flight 11. One of the last things Tom, a 42 year-old former Navy fighter pilot, had told his wife was: “If anything ever happens to me, you have to trust God. God will get you through it. Just surround yourself with loving people, people who know Christ, people who will surround you in Christ-like love.”

Like so many others, Cheryl and the children, Jennifer and Tommy, had no idea that they would never see their loved one again. Mohammed Atta and his henchmen gained control of the jet on their mission of hate and murder. Tom McGuinness along with 81 passengers and flight crew perished in the crash.

For both families, Steve’s and Tom’s, tragedy has given way to hope and purpose. Yes, they do believe Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”  Regardless of how those fanatics viewed their devastating deeds, God did not cause that horror and heartbreak. The testimony of the Scheibner and McGuinness families might be best captured in the title of Cheryl’s book: “Beauty Beyond the Ashes: Choosing Hope After Crisis.”

Steve Scheibner will be our guest at Wieuca this Sunday, October 6. You can learn more about his story at or  His book and DVD, In My Seat, will be available after the service. Cheryl’s book can be found in our library and on her website

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About Mark Wilbanks

Dr. Wilbanks became Wieuca’s fifth senior pastor in February of 2012. Mark’s father, Oliver Wilbanks, served as Associate Pastor here from 1966 to 1982. Wieuca had a tremendous influence in shaping Mark’s call to ministry during his teenage and young adult years. A graduate of both Southern and New Orleans Baptist Theological seminaries, Mark has served churches in Kentucky, Florida, and Georgia. He pastored Southside Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida for 17 years and Bradfordville First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida for ten years. He and his wife, Kim, were married in 1979 and have two sons, Andy and Jordan. Andy is married to Lindsay and they have a son, Cade, a daughter, Ruthie, and welcomed their third child, Samuel, in October.

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