Thursday, May 24, 2007

Praying Onsite

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Prayer over death strip on highway

By Lynley Smith of Challenge Weekly, New Zealand

AUCKLAND, NZ (ANS) -- Auckland's City Impact Church has stepped in to deal with a major issue which has left police in the Rodney district, north of the city, shaking their heads in frustration.

DEAR LORD ... City Impact members pray at the Dome Valley, expecting a dramatic reduction in the road toll in the area.

After consultation with the Waitakere North Shore Rodney police area commander, the church has sent a team to pray in the Dome Valley, south of Wellsford, where State Highway 1 has one of the highest fatal accident rates in the region.

"It was part of our community consultation process to see what needs there are in the community," said church outreach director Dean Payn.

OBJECT OF PRAYER: An Auckland woman who survived this horrendous smash on Highway 1 near the Dome Valley in October last year said her survival was a God-given miracle.

"The police told us their number one concern was the death toll in the Dome Valley. They said their key role is to keep people safe and they were struggling to do so there."

The church outreach team decided to do something about it and on a Wednesday night 12 of them travelled to the Dome Valley to pray in the three of the most notorious accident spots.

"We spent about two hours there, praying until we felt we had achieved something," said Mr Payn. "We realised there was something more to the accident rate there than just the physical issues of road construction, which the police said was fine."

Andy Chapman, a Wellsford St John Ambulance officer and former Wellsford policewoman, said he had been stationed in Wellsford for the past five years and the Dome was definitely the hotspot for accidents in Rodney.

"We can always blame a variety of factors - incorrect decision making, inappropriate speed on corners - but it is clear the road itself has little bearing on the fatal crashes that are occurring there," he said.

"In many cases a driver has lost control of his vehicle, possibly on a low-speed corner, and many times vehicles have crossed the centreline.

KEEPING WATCH: Reflective angels have been placed as a special reminder of the prayer covering placed on the three Dome Valley crash sites.

"It is without a doubt the worst road for accidents in Rodney. Every time it rains the emergency services just sit and wait for a call from the Dome."

Mr Chapman said he could not explain why drivers who were inexperienced, careless or did not drive to conditions had more accidents in the Dome Valley than on other, more difficult, stretches of road in Rodney.

"How do you explain it when an experienced heavy truck driver loses control on a bend, as happened last year, and kills someone?" he asked.

Mr Payn said City Impact was putting itself on the line by praying for the area, but the outreach team had a high faith level and was expecting a dramatic reduction in the road toll in the valley.

"The continual prayers of the righteous avails much," he said. "Prayer is the ultimate answer to this horrendous problem. What is seemingly an impossible task for our police is very achievable for God. I assure you next year the statistics won't be the same."

The church invites others to commit to pray for the Dome Valley highway as well.

In addition to prayer, reflective angels have been placed as a special reminder of the prayer covering that had been placed on the three areas. This is the first time the church has taken on such an assignment.


Lynley Smith is a reporter in the Auckland newsroom of Challenge Weekly, New Zealand's independent and non-denominational Christian newspaper.

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