'I Promised I Wouldn't Hang Up'

Lisa Jefferson, the phone supervisor who took Todd Beamer's call on Flight 93, believes God called her for a purpose.

BY: Interview by Wendy Schuman


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And when did you and Lisa finally meet?

We met first on the Oprah Show, and I believe that was in October. We did not want to meet out on stage for the first time. We met in the back first, and we were glad to finally see each other and hug each other and thank each other, and then we went out on stage in front of the audience.

Do you still have a relationship with her?

Yes, I do. I keep in touch with his entire family. 

You said you felt you had a spiritual calling and that you were placed in the Beamers’ lives for a reason. Could you talk about that?

A Spiritual Calling
I believe that God used me as a messenger for the Beamer family and to deliver God’s message the way he wanted it to be delivered, and I’m pretty sure that God used me for that reason.

You know, God has an assignment for you that only you can fulfill. And I think God uses us as we are with our unique gifts, abilities, and experiences. And I wasn’t prepared for my test on September the 11th. I went on faith and made myself available. God is not concerned about your ability, but your availability.

I was wondering how you’ve changed. You said you were an ordinary wife and working mother before.

A Life-Changing Experience
I’m just a mother and a wife going to work every day, and now this has changed my life in so many ways that spiritually, this has brought me closer to God. I find myself praying more often over any situation. And emotionally, it’s taken a toll on me because I was in therapy for a while. Being a private person, I’ve always shared my views with family and friends, and now I find myself sharing them with the media.

And over the last five years, I have tried to step up to the array of challenges resulting from it with sensitivity, encouragement, and a message of faith in God and his provision.

Did you ever feel angry with God for allowing all this to happen?

 No. I won’t say I never feel angry. I know we’re not supposed to question him. I wanted to, but I never did. So I didn’t question him and I did not feel angry. You know, the way I look at it, God picked certain people. He handpicked certain people to be on that flight and he picked a group full of heroes, people he knew that would stand up against the terrorists and fight back for the good of our nation and that’s exactly what they did.

What church do you belong to?

I belong to Greater St. John’s Bible Church.

What denomination is that?

Baptist. With Pastor Ira J. Acree, and that’s on the west of Chicago.

How has your faith changed since this experience?

I go to church more often. I guess I wasn’t the type of person that was in church every Sunday, but now I go to church more often than I used to before. I definitely feel closer to God. It’s brought my faith much, much stronger.

What’s the message that you feel God wants you to share in the book?

Each time I tell this story, I receive so many great responses from it. We felt that this book could encourage someone, and it should be in writing. And the reason that we wrote “Called” is because I believe that any one of us can find ourselves in a similar situation where we may be called upon to do something extraordinary when we least expect to do it. But the question is, are we prepared to respond to whatever it is that God has planned for us? And I believe that God used me as an ear witness to the bravery of the men and women on Flight 93.

What did you tell your kids about that day, and how has that affected your being a parent?

Actually, my husband spoke to them. I didn’t speak to them at all regarding it. They heard about it in school and when they came home that day, he sat down and told them the role that I played in it, and they were afraid. They just wanted to know would the evil people be back, you know, and that’s something that we really couldn’t answer. Hopefully not, but we really couldn’t answer that question.

Do you still have the same job?

No. I’m no longer with Verizon Airfone. They laid me off last April. I was there over 20 years.

What would you tell people who think that their lives don’t have a purpose?

Obviously, September the 11th was a difficult time for our entire nation. And my goal personally, and through the book, is to provide encouragement to people going through difficult situations of facing challenges in life. God can use any of us if we are available to him.

You were saying that you feel God has transformed you into an ambassador for Christ. What do you mean by that?

Well, basically, just to speak on what happened on September 11th and for the public not to forget the heroes on Flight 93, because I feel everyone was a hero, even though I only spoke to Todd. There was a flight attendant that sat next to Todd that gave us all the information that we needed. Information that Todd didn’t know that was taking place, she gave me that additional information.

How did she do that?

She was sitting right next to him, and I could hear everything she was saying because she was speaking loud enough for me to hear her through the phone. For example, if I asked him of the flight number, he would say, “Uh, the flight number?” And she would say, “93,” and then, when he told me that there were two people lying down in first class, their throats had been slashed and he couldn’t tell if they were dead or alive, she said it was the pilot and co-pilot. So whatever he couldn’t answer, she was able to answer.

So all the people were participating in some way.

All of them were participating, and it wasn’t a one-man show. Every single passenger had a hand in trying to save that flight.

Is there anything that you’d like to say about the strength that you are continuing to get from the survivors, the families? Because I know you have some of their stories at the end of your book.

Yes, I do. I think that was an encouragement for me. I’ve never written a book before. I may not write another book. But I just hope this book can impact someone’s life and encourage someone to just step up to their task or challenge when called upon.

And the families that have submitted stories in the book, I truly appreciate their stories because it let the public know how they are managing now after five years.

Will the fifth anniversary be difficult for you?

Yes. Every year has been difficult because one reason or another takes me back to that day. Either I see something on television, you know, and look at the news and see the clippings and it just takes me right back to that date, in that same spot that I was in September 11, 2001.

I wonder if you could possibly say the Lord’s Prayer for us, as you did with Todd.

The Lord's Prayer
All right…. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.


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