The Pastor’s Prayer Call hosted by Concerts of Prayer Greater New York took on added fervency in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. On Friday, November 4, several New York City ministry leaders dialed in to intercede and speak words of life over a region that has suffered unprecedented damage by a once-in-a lifetime storm.
Several pastors shared scriptures that exhorted the local Body of Christ to minister holistically to hurting people who need food, water, and blankets in addition to the Good News of the gospel. And in the days following Hurricane Sandy, that is certainly happening as reports indicate that churches all over the region are spearheading relief efforts.
Concerts of Prayer started the monthly Pastor’s Prayer Call in 2008 as a response to the economic crisis that brought on the current recession. In response to the hurricane that has devastated New York City, Long Island, and the Jersey Shore, the schedule for the call has now been accelerated to once a week.
As he led the one-hour prayer call, Rev. Gary Frost, president of Concerts of Prayer, recalled driving into a blacked out Lower Manhattan that week and seeing only the light of a hospital.
Likewise, “The church should be a light in the midst of darkness, a healing center,” he said. “We need to show the compassion of Christ.”
Tim Keller, senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, said the church must strive to meet physical and spiritual needs—much like Jesus did when he healed the paralyzed man in Luke 5. The healing, Dr. Keller said, pointed to Jesus’ power to save souls.
“Jesus did not just forgive the man’s sins, nor did he just heal his body,” he said.
“Our churches have got to be known for caring for hurting people. Not just [during the aftermath of the hurricane]—but in general.”
Rev. Bob Johansson (Evangel Church, Long Island City) said hearing the wind whistle through his house reminded him of how Jesus overcame the storm in Matthew 8:27. The disciples asked: “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
He also quoted Psalm 93:4—“Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea—the Lord on high is mighty.”
“This can be a stage in which Jesus demonstrates his power and glory,” Rev. Johansson said. “So many people lost homes, they are broken, they lost everything—(we need to pray) that God would demonstrate his power in the midst of it all; That God would grant ongoing compassion to those in need. We need to continue to minister the grace of God to them.”
Jodi Wood of New York Intercessors said 50 prayer warriors from across the country were praying for three hours on the eve of the storm. She said the storm was an opportunity for the Body of Christ to be salt and light.
Pastor Dimas Salaberrios (Infinity Church) wasted no time in being salt and light. He visited the Breezy Point section of Queens along with Pastor Michel Faulkner and the two big men wrapped their arms around a neighborhood that lost 100 homes during a raging fire and flood. Pastor Salaberrios said, in these perilous times, some people are even too weary to pray. But he let them know that “God is still able. They needed leaders to hug them and pray for them.”
Pastor Salaberrios exhorted the pastors and leaders to not wait for the government, but to take the initiative and meet people where they are.
“Bring water, bring love, bring generators,” he said. “We can serve and give love like no one else. We can mobilize people like no one else.”
Dr. Mac Pier, executive director of the New York City Leadership Center and the founder of Concerts of Prayer Greater New York, quoted C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, saying that like the Crucifixion, Hurricane Sandy is able to provide a “complex good” and bring about salvation.
“It’s a mystery—why God allowed this to happen,” he said. “In Romans 8, [the Bible] says, ‘In all things God works for the good of those who love him…’”
This hurricane, he said, can arrest a dependence on God like only a tragedy can: “The same thing happened for a season after 9/11.”
Dr. Joseph Mattera, senior pastor of Resurrection Church in Brooklyn, commented on how appropriate it was that Concerts of Prayer had led the city in praying through the book of Nehemiah earlier in the year. Rebuilding the city in the same manner is possible if church leaders can work with government officials and the OEM.
“There is a great task at hand. If we can incarnate, it will result in God being glorified.”
Pastor Tom Mahairas noted that “God is bringing attention to this city once again.”
He said our words must match our actions and our integrity must match our theology as we minister to the least of these (Matthew 25:40).
“This is an opportunity for all believers to minister to Jesus and to hurting people, both Christians and non-Christians. We can serve Jesus and love Jesus by doing that.”
-Written by Tom Campisi, editor and publisher of Tri-State Voice
For more information on Concerts of Prayer or the Pastor’s Prayer Call, visit www.copgny.org.
ABOUNDING GRACE AFTER THE STORM
Abounding Grace Ministries led a relief effort for approximately 20,000 people in the days following Hurricane Sandy. The church teamed with Trinity Grace Church East Village and Pastor Guy Wasko as hundreds of volunteers distributed food, water, blankets, diapers, baby food, and other needed supplies to New Yorkers at Dry Dock Park on Avenue D and 10th Street beginning Wednesday morning.
“Thanks to all the volunteers who rallied, the NYPD, Parks Department, National Guard, NYCHA staff, and Salvation Army for their tireless support, and City officials who provided much needed reinforcements of supplies beginning on Thursday,” said Rick Del Rio, senior pastor of Abounding Grace. “In the shadow of the Con Edison power plant that exploded on Monday night to darken lower Manhattan, the Alphabet City community embodied grace and through the storm. We are so grateful for everyone who made that possible.”
For more information on how you can serve the city, visit Abounding Grace’s blog at www.agmin.org/sandy.