Prayer Moves Mountains
Sometimes the most significant events take place in relative anonymity, outside of TV cameras, cell phone videos, or news reporters chronicling it as “something important.”
Such was the case at a recent city-wide prayer meeting at the Huntington High School auditorium. The gathering of several hundred individuals followed the Sept. 7 “One Prayer” observance sparked by Mayor Steve Williams.
While the first prompted hundreds of churches to participate, the meeting that followed three weeks later was equally (if not more) exciting.
An Emotional Evening
I knew something was different when the first person to pray that night was the county’s superintendent of schools. Following later were the sheriff, along with representatives of District 3 Congressman Nick Joe Rahall and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. The latter read congratulatory letters before they prayed.
While this kind of official recognition may demonstrate the pull churches still have in West Virginia, that didn’t excite me nearly as much as people who came to the podium to share what God was doing since Sept. 7.
A Dealer No More
Rocky Meadows, a reformed drug user and founder of a sober living home called Lifehouse, read excerpts from a drug dealer’s note that told of being so inspired by the mayor’s call for prayer he decided to quit the business.
Amazing, to say the least. It promptly reminded me of one of the snide remarks that appeared in a letter to the editor of the Huntington Herald-Dispatch. Noting a shooting spree that erupted at a downtown Huntington bar after the “One Prayer” day, the writer questioned what good the mayor’s move had accomplished.
What the letter writer failed to mention was that in the aftermath of the shooting, the bar’s owner voluntarily surrendered his liquor license. So the troubled night spot is no longer open. Sounds like God at work to me.
Likewise for the drug dealer who quit the business.
Tower of Hope
One of the speakers at the city-wide prayer meeting was Shane Polan, part of a prominent family with interests in business and real estate. One of its holdings is a 13-story hotel two blocks from city hall that in recent years had been converted to low-cost apartments and attracted numerous drug users. Some had overdosed there.
However, after his brother kicked a three-decade-long drug addiction after making a decision to follow Christ, Shane has his own spiritual awakening last year. Ironically, he had already started the process to turning the hotel into a long-term residential facility called Hope Tower.
Working in cooperation with the city’s largest church and evangelist Eddie James, Polan recently welcomed the first group of converts from James’ Atlanta-area ministry to the building. The group of young men is helping convert one floor of apartments into a dormitory space for single men.
God at Work
The story of Hope Tower is itself something that is likely to one day attract nationwide attention. So is Mayor Williams taking a very public stand for his faith.
As the concluding speaker that evening, Williams freely quoted from the Bible and sounded like a preacher. He also told of receiving calls from around the region and beyond from government officials wanting to know how to start a similar effort in their community.
Which goes to show that God is at work in many ways today, even if you won’t hear it shouted from the rooftops.