"Let's go meet up in Manhattan and pray for the city and see what God's doing."
When Pastor Ron Lewis got that call from his friend Rice Broocks, author of God's Not Dead, he knew just one thing: he didn't want to go. But his decision to follow his friend's voice—and the Holy Spirit's prompting—led to multiple miracles in Manhattan.
"I really felt it was the right thing to do," Lewis tells Dr. Steve Greene on a special 9/11 episode of the Greenelines podcast on the Charisma Podcast Network. "On Sept. 13, we were in Manhattan, and oh my goodness: the devastation, the trauma, the horrifying things—but something happened to me.
"On that day, when I was driving up with some other pastor friends in my car," Lewis says. "I looked at the New Jersey Turnpike, I look south, and I could see the smoke billowing up. And in that moment, as lamenting as I was, I heard something in my inner man, in my inner being.
"I heard a voice say, 'Out of these ashes, I will build a great church.'" Lewis recalls. "And I knew then that had to be God. I was certainly never looking for anything like that; it had to be God. When we were in Times Square, we began to get the sense that this was the place where we should launch the church. That wasn't why we went there. But this is what happened. And it happened quickly."
Lewis returned to his church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, and Broocks to his in Nashville, Tennessee. "And when we were there, we both said, 'We're going to be starting this church, we don't know how, but we're trusting God,'" Lewis says. "Out of nowhere, someone in his congregation came forward and said, 'I'm the manager of an off-Broadway theater right there in the middle of Times Square.' And he said, 'We have Sunday nights available.'
Both Lewis and Broocks began to fly up to New York City after their morning services each week, and Every Nation Church was born. For the past 20 years, Lewis has worked in both churches, serving as overseer in the North Carolina church and senior ministry of Every Nation, which now has six congregations in the greater New York City area.
"It's been quite a wild ride full of amazing miracles," he says. He has recorded 50 of them in his book, Miracles in Manhattan. He finds it even more incredible that God called him to start the church during a deep season of personal brokenness. He told God, "I'm not qualified; New Yorkers don't want to listen to a man from the South, a man who has gone through all this stuff."
But his brokenness proved just the right means to reach the "young dreamers and young professionals" Lewis says the Holy Spirit drew into the church. "Their pain was greater than my pain," he adds.
"One of the young dreamers was a model and an actress. She had been booted out of her home—a beautiful young lady. And she was addicted to drugs and had been very badly abused—physically, sexually, in every way. Yet she was a multiple-time cover girl ... very successful on the outside."
The young woman was miserable, Lewis says, even contemplating suicide. But she came into one of the church's prayer meetings. "I felt fire fall on my head and go through and course through my body," Lewis says she told him.
That got her attention, and she turned to God and to Jesus Christ for help with her issues. "She went on to be a servant of the Lord, to be water baptized; she confessed Jesus as her Lord," Lewis says. "She ended up marrying another Christian model in our church. And today, she continues to be an actress, but she's also a fulltime pastor in Los Angeles."
For many more miracles in Manhattan from Pastor Ron Lewis, listen to the entire 9/11 episode of Greenelines at this link, and subscribe to Greenelines for more inspiring stories like this one. Find Lewis' book, Miracles in Manhattan, at miraclesinmanhattan.nyc. On the anniversary of 9/11, watch All Nation Church's special livestream service here.
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