Prayer Stations were a very visible feature across Lower Manhattan for the 9/11 anniversary over the weekend, where booths were set up along Broadway, as well as by City Hall, close to the 9/11 memorial site.
The Prayer Stations were manned by volunteers from Christian organization Youth With A Mission, a group conceptualized by the founder Nick Savoca in 1992, with a goal of bringing prayer out to the people.
YWAM promotes that it preaches in a modern way, without raised voices, but with a smile and a handshake.
They were also near ground zero just after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, for an entire year. The YWAM volunteers wore bright red t-shirts with signs saying: “Prayer changes things.”
The public’s reaction to the stalls was generally very warm, said founder Savoca.
“People would just fall into our arms and weep, and we would pray for them,” he told The Christian Post.
However, 10 years later, in 2011, the organization did not manage to secure the same location for their stations as in 2001. The city of New York did not grant the prayer stations the right of access within the memorial zone, Savoca said.
In July, Savoca wrote a letter to the 1st Precinct and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office, requesting 10 selected sites for the stations, but only received one call from an employee saying that the mayor’s office would get back to him. That, however, never happened.
“When we arrived at the site at 6 a.m. on Sunday, we were met by the NYPD who informed us that we could not go in to the ‘frozen zone,’” Savoca told CP.
That did not stop the organization from setting up the prayer stations alongside Broadway, from St. Paul’s Chapel to the City Hall, and the undeterred volunteers offered prayers to passers-by.
“We want to offer our sympathy and conversation to people,” said Joost Nennie, a young Dutch volunteer. “And prayer, of course.”
On the YWAM website Savoca is quoted as saying that the stations are “undoubtedly an extremely effective evangelistic tool. They give people opportunities to connect with other people in a non-confrontational way, to exchange names and a smile, a brief word of prayer whether the person is a Christian or not.”
Savoca also told CP that the volunteers at the prayer stations experienced miracles over years of common prayer.
“A woman with a skin disease asked for a prayer at the prayer station and she came back a week later to tell us that the doctors pronounced her healed. She attributed it to the prayer station,” he said. “There were many people who were out of jobs who we prayed for, and who got jobs the very next day.”