On the day of the terrorist attacks upon the United States, our pastor, Rice Broocks, called a special prayer meeting at our church for that evening. Because the congregation is so large, there wasn’t time to get in touch with every person individually. So he and other members of the pastoral staff contacted as many people as they could, and from there the news of the meeting spread like wildfire. By seven o’clock that night, the church was packed to overflowing. Everyone who could possibly come on such short notice was there. We all needed to be together as a spiritual family, to draw on God’s comfort and strength in worship and praise, and to make a difference by praying for our nation.
The worship time was powerful in a life-changing way, just as worship is meant to be. And afterwards one person after another was asked to come up front to pray about whatever was on their heart regarding the devastating events of that day. We prayed for the nation, our leaders, the victims who might still be alive, the people who had lost loved ones, and for every person who had witnessed those horrifying scenes — especially the children. Each prayer was as powerful and heartfelt as the one before it, making it the most passionate and fervent prayer meeting I have ever attended.
During that evening we felt ourselves gaining much needed strength in our souls. We had all come to church with unbearably heavy hearts, but we walked out with great hope, an absence of fear, a sense of renewed purpose as intercessors, and the joy of the Lord. This wasn’t a phony, living in denial, pretending-it-didn’t-happen kind of mindless joy. It was the joy of knowing that God was still in control in our world and He would somehow bring good out of all that had happened.
That night, Pastor Rice felt a strong leading from the Holy Spirit for he and some of the other pastors and staff from the church to travel to New York City to do whatever they could to help. Throughout the next day they made the necessary arrangements for their trip. That night there was another equally packed and powerful worship and prayer meeting at the church, after which they piled in a van and drove all night from Nashville to New York City. As all the airports in the United States were still closed at that point, driving was the only way to get there.
Once they arrived in New York City, they were struck by the numbers of people who were openly looking to God for answers and solace. Although the hospitals stood readily available to take care of wounded bodies, there seemed to also be a great need for hospitals for the wounded of soul.
Recognizing the openness and longing of people’s hearts, Pastor Rice knew that the Lord was calling him and the other pastors to plant a church right in the heart of New York City. This is not to say that there weren’t many great churches there already, but the need was so enormous, the number of hurting people so great, and the devastation so massive that another strong church in the area seemed essential for bearing the load.
The following Saturday, Pastor Rice and the others drove back to Nashville in time for Sunday services. He shared with the congregation what the Holy Spirit had put on his heart about starting a church in New York City. He shared that they were looking for a suitable place, but that so much property had been destroyed that thousands of others were also looking for buildings in which to relocate their businesses. He said he didn’t know where they would find the right place or how to get the thousands of dollars needed, but he knew the Lord would provide it.
Immediately after that service, a gentleman who had been visiting the church that morning came up to Pastor Rice and told him that he had connections with a theatre on 44th Street off of Broadway. An old historic building called The Lamb’s Theatre would be available for their use. The necessary details were put into motion right away and not only was the theater secured, but within that week the many thousands of dollars that were needed had been donated by generous and faithful members of the congregation.
A few weeks later, Morning Star Church New York was born. Immediately it began growing, thriving, birthing new life, and bringing spiritual comfort to many. Pastors and other leaders from our church flew to New York every Sunday until some were able to relocate there permanently. It has become an oasis of joy and a beacon of light to people in the area. It all happened with such speed and success that it is now referred to as “The Miracle on 44th Street.”
This is just one example of how something good can come out of the pain of a tragic situation. And only God can accomplish this. But it doesn’t just happen. Pastor Rice said, “There comes a time when we must stop just reading about what we are to do and actually start doing it. The storm that has come upon our culture is not something we should shrink back from, but rather we must realize we are called into the middle of it.”
In this instance good came out of something bad because a group of people were eager to seek God and worship Him in the midst of their pain. They were willing to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, pray fervently, give of themselves, and move into the storm to rescue those who had been overcome by it.
Taken from The Power of a Praying Nation copyright © 2002 Stormie Omartian. Permission given by Harvest House Publishing. All rights reserved.
Stormie is also the author of The Power of a Praying Husband.