Over 3,200 people from 98 partnering churches joined a prayer event in person and online Saturday to pray for the city’s schools, youth and teachers.
The event was the second We Pray San Diego gathering, following the first one in June that had focused on praying for both the healing of residents infected with COVID-19 and the city’s racial tensions. Nearly 2,000 people attended the event in person while the remainder joined online.
“Interestingly enough, we have not had any big civil unrest in our city. Is that a direct result? Maybe not,” said Daryl Nuss, 71, the special counsel to the CEO of National Network of Youth Ministries and a We Pray San Diego leader, to The Christian Post.
“But I think some of it can be attributed to the fact that people of faith were praying and are praying.”
During the event, Nuss and other participants prayed for an hour while listening on their cell phones to a prayer guide provided by Pastor Miles McPherson of San Diego’s 19,000-member Rock Church. Nuss said he and 50 other people prayed outside the Poway Unified School District’s office while practicing social distancing.
Back in July, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that schools on the state's COVID-19 watch list needed to remain closed, which included San Diego County, and thus all educational instructions would be given virtually. San Diego as well as Los Angeles, the two largest public school districts in California, announced that month they would be holding online-only classes for the fall.
The Saturday prayer meeting was built on years of working alongside San Diego schools, Nuss said. Over the past eight years, churches have built a relationship with local schools with projects like drug awareness programs.
“We have a real bond of trust,” he said. “This didn’t happen out of the blue.”
Another event leader, Assistant Pastor Abel Isaac Ledezma of Centro Familiar Cristiano Church, said prayer topics included school, education, teachers, principals, students, and the education system. California’s school system is the ninth-worst in the nation because of low test scores, a high dropout rate and high number of pupils per teacher in the classroom, according to ranking site WalletHub.
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“Basically, we were praying for our future,” Ledezma said. “I felt like this one was much needed.”
Getting parking for everyone was the event’s biggest challenge, Ledezma shared. But once We Pray San Diego found available parking lots, everything went smoothly. The peaceful church members had surprised people driving by, he said.
“They were a little confused because they’re used to seeing people with protest signs showing anger, but their faces started to change when they saw we were praying,” he said. “It’s very different from what people are seeing nowadays.”
Attendees enjoyed the event and looked forward to the next time it would happen, Nuss said.
“I had an individual Saturday say, ‘can’t we do this once a week or once a month?’” he said.
Both Nuss and Ledezma said the event gave the community a chance to see what the church stood for. In times when Christians often are known for what they oppose, it was an opportunity for believers to show love for their community.
“This is a positive way to let people know we believe in God, we believe in the power of prayer and we’re not afraid to pray on our streets,” Ledezma said. “Overall people have a positive response to prayer. During the planning process of this event I took some time to pray for the people who are driving by, that because they saw us praying it would lead to a domino effect in their spiritual life.”
The event’s prayer guides are still available online at wepraysandiego.com. They include contemplative music, reading from the Bible and prayer topic suggestions in English, Spanish and American Sign Language.