Summary: I want to share a brief follow up of what God is doing in New York City and among the churches...
From Pain to Purpose - New York City
Pastor Fernando Cabrera, Ed.D
New Life Outreach International Church
God often takes us out of the way places and events to teach us valuable lesson. I feel compel to share some things I believe God has impressed upon my heart. I do not claim to be the authoritative "word" on the recent tragedy, but somehow living through this crisis in New York City and witnessing first hand the tragedy has prompted me to seek what God is saying unto us like never before. I believe that God is moving from pain to purpose.
I must confess that in the first three days after September 11 I felt "stunt" and truly perplexed as to what God was saying during this tragedy. It was not until I was given an opportunity to ministered to the policemen and firemen at Ground Zero, that I was more than convinced as to what God was expecting at this hour. I know that most churches and ministered I have spoken to felt just like I did, "stunt and stuck".
I believe that God is beginning to stop our "agendas" and is raising up a divine assignment that we have so long neglected. The vision for this hour is the mission. I do know we have sought to understand prophetically the recent events in light of Scripture, but I do believe that while we are talking to one another about prophecy, God is prompting us to live and speak prophetically to this hurting generation. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers seem to be asleep. It is harvest time! And if we don’t reap, it is going to rut.
That Friday night I took 40 of our teenagers to the streets. I have never seen New Yorkers so hungry for God. We went out again to share Jesus with New Yorker the next day, and people were literally seeking us out for literature and ANSWERS! Many came to the Lord. Only one thing troubled me - other Christians were no where to be found sharing the gospel. Please understand that I am not trying to be critical. This took place for four weeks, before I saw people sharing the good news with others in the streets. I did meet an "evangelist", who was more concerned being invited to preach in our church, than to mobilizing in reaching souls. For this we have been created. The "great commission must not become the great ommission" in this hour.
I believe that God has given us a window of opportunity to reach souls. This is the hour for the church to rise. I have worked alongside the Red Cross in the role of clergy, and have seen their devotion to their work. But the Red Cross can only meet some of their needs. We must seize this moment - others have!
There is a second valuable leason I have learned through this tragedy. There are those who will step out and give their best when others are in a "great deal of affliction" (II Cor. 8:2). When this tragedy took place, we only around $1,000 in our church account. We had recently bought a building and it had drained all of our resources. You can only image how I felt with this event took place, and the need was bigger than what we could meet. I don’t know why, but usually those who have the least,give the most. A few churches outside the city responded to our "plead" for help. Churches like Grace Christian Church (Pastor Benard McCreery) from Glenmora, Louisiana,Conerstone Christian Church (Pastor Emgee) from Richmond, Virginia and New Life Outreach International Church (Pastor Victor Torres) from Richmond, Virginia. Campus Crusade provide us with some witnessing materials. They remind me of what Paul said, "For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord". Others have supported us with prayer and fasting. This is the "church" that the Lord eagerly seeks. These churches I become a "model" for me and those they touched in New York. One church got in their church van and help us evangelized a whole weekend. Many were won to the Lord. These churches were not looking to impress a "Christian celebratiy" or "prime time pastor", they were seeking plant a seed in the time of need.
Last, but not least, I have learned that there is no more powerful act that we can perform that to pray. The bible says that "the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much". I have seen people be touched through the power of prayer like never before. We had people in our church who barely escape out of the World Trade Center, but had to face the emotional aftermath of a traumatic event of this magnitude. They have testified that prayer has been the number one vehicle of strength that has enable them to make it through.