SAN ANTONIO – The gates swung open at 6 p.m. Sunday for people in hundreds of vehicles pouring in to take part in Pray SA — a new approach to what local pastor Max Lucado has called “an old-fashioned prayer meeting.”
When the event started at 7 p.m. Sunday, organizers said hundreds of vehicles registered and took part in the prayer meeting.
Due to the pandemic, those attending texted their prayer requests from their vehicles that were spaced apart in the Freeman Coliseum parking lot. Others who registered but could not attend took part from home.
They could watch or listen to the livestream on the Pray SA website or on two FM radio stations broadcasting in English and Spanish.
Lucado has said people are “weary, wounded and worried” right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, losing their jobs, racial injustice and so much more.
“I think people are just hungry for help. Hungry for help, and so people want to pray,” Lucado said.
Initially, the idea came to Lucado, a well-known author and pastor at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio. Since then, a spokeswoman for Pray SA said Lucado and an ecumenical group of Christian and non-Christian religious leaders have been praying about it for awhile.
"Eight weeks later, here we are at Freeman Coliseum," said Pastor Dorian Williams, one of the Pray SA organizers.
"It all came together and we just needed to hear one another's voice and have a real discussion," Williams said.
Williams said the gathering reminded him of a family reunion of God's children.
"We want all of his kids to know that we have the same dad and that same dad loves us the same," Williams said.
Pastor Gilbert Hernandez, another Pray SA organizer, said, everyone is welcome to the events, regardless of race or religion.
“I don’t care what color you are. I don’t care what religion you are. We just want God to bless everyone in our city,” Hernandez said.
Tammy Bowman, who was among those that attended, said, “I think it’s a great idea. I think it’s much needed. Nothing else is working, so when all else fails, well, the first thing we should have done is prayer.”
Lucado said that's what God always wants from his children.
“I think He’d say ‘I’m so thankful for that,‘” Lucado said. “You’re finally coming to me with all your questions, all your burdens.”
A second Pray SA event is scheduled for next Sunday, August 16, also at 7 p.m. at the Freeman Coliseum. Registration information can be found on its website.