Pray for the Big Apple

Last week the leaders of the Greater New York and the North-Eastern conferences invited me to a Zoom conversation. (Will there be Zoom in heaven?—I am praying not—it’s not that I’m ungrateful for the technology—but oh boy, after a while it sure loses its shine!) In conversation with these church leaders in the Big Apple, I learned that this COVID-19 pandemic has not only turned New York City into the nation’s epicenter for this coronavirus. It has ravaged the Seventh-day Adventist community—to the place we have 400 of our brothers and sisters now infected with the deadly disease, and another 100 members have already died at its hands.

I listened as they described strategies they have already implemented within their communities—food pantries, health seminars, counseling programs, and other crisis intervention efforts. “We realize that to complete our efforts and represent the gospel in its totality,” one of them emailed me, “we need to give more direct attention to presenting Jesus as the ultimate solution to all our concerns in this crisis—bringing hope and healing to New York.” So, they asked, would I be willing to preach an eight evening series they’re calling “Healing Hope: Renewing Faith for New York.” 

The plan is to live stream (truly live) each evening (7:00) from May 16 - 23, from our living room to their web and social media platforms. The eight messages, I’m already planning, will revolve around two theme texts—“Love suffers long” (1 Corinthians 13:4) and “An enemy has done this” (Matthew 13:28)—twin explanations for the ravaging cosmic warfare over this planet that unleashes such untold human suffering.

I tell you all of this for one reason—New York City and its churches and your pastor very much need your intercessory prayers over the next ten days until the series begins, and then the eight days the series continues. How God’s heart aches for the plight of the citizens of New York City, as well as the rest of the world. God is no respecter of persons—His love and compassion stretch out in every direction to draw near to those who suffer. “If not one [sparrow] will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care,” Jesus assured us, “. . . you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-30).

In 1902 Ellen White was moved on behalf of the Big Apple: “New York is ready to be worked. In that great city, the message of truth will be given with the power of God. The Lord calls for workmen. He calls upon those who have gained experience in the cause to take up and carry forward in His fear the work to be done in New York and other large cities of America. He calls also for means to be used in this work” (Evangelism 384). In 1910 came these words that stun me every time I read them: “It is time to wake up the watchmen. I have expended my strength in giving the messages the Lord has given me. The burden of the needs of our cities has rested so heavily upon me that it has sometimes seemed that I should die. May the Lord give wisdom to our brethren, that they may know how to carry forward the work in harmony with the will of the Lord” (ibid 34 emphasis supplied). Has my heart ever been so burdened for any city at all?

Pray for New York City, and please pray for me “that whenever I speak, words may be given me to that I will fearlessly [and compassionately] make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19). You’ll be in good hands here—God has three gifted preachers who will deliver His Word the next three Sabbaths. So please, pray for us all—that this pandemic may open up a “great door for effective work” for all of us, for Jesus and His mission on earth.