Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
The old Burlington Coat Factory building, site of proposed Ground Zero mosque
In response to the controversial plans to build an Islamic mosque in New York City near the place where Muslim terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people in 2001, an Internet evangelist is planning to establish what he calls the 9-11 Christian Center at Ground Zero.
Bill Keller of LivePrayer.com, an Internet ministry that claims over 2.4 million subscribers, is planning on opening the Center at a temporary location near Ground Zero this September before announcing a permanent home beginning in 2011.
Keller told WND that he sees this as an opportunity to take a stand for Christ within a block of where the World Trade Center towers once stood and “give people a place where they can come to pray and find true peace and hope at a time when so many lives are in turmoil.”
“I watched in disbelief … as they announced the Muslims would be building a $110 million mosque just a few blocks from where their Muslim brothers perpetrated the greatest act of terror on U.S. soil in history,” writes Keller on the Christian Center’s official website. “After I got over being angry, I got on my knees in prayer. I knew God was
calling me to do something, but what?”
“After many hours, I realized it would not be another ‘big event,’ that just hours after it was over people would be back to their lives and nothing would have been accomplished,” he continues. “We have all been to and seen ‘big events,’ and nothing ever changes. No, this had to be more than an event, but an ongoing mission to combat this new evil being constructed near Ground Zero, which would bring people the Truth of
God’s Word and the love and hope of Jesus Christ.”
The 9-11 Christian Center plans to begin holding services Sunday, Sept. 5, in the ballroom of Embassy Suites at 102 North End Avenue in Manhattan, with Keller presiding.
By the time the center moves into permanent facilities on Jan. 1, Keller plans to incorporate other ministers and evangelists, particularly from the New York area, in holding services seven days a
Keller also envisions a 9-11 Memorial Prayer Room for the many visitors who come to Ground Zero each day to stop in and pray.
“We are not starting a church,” Keller emphasized in an email to WND, “but this will be an evangelistic center reaching out to people who are searching, looking for hope and answers in their life.”
“The mission is simple,” Keller further explains on the center’s website. “Have a place at Ground Zero where people can come to hear the real, uncompromised Truth right from God’s Word and find the only true hope there is, faith in Jesus Christ. We will combat the lies of this world and Islam with the Truth. We will combat the hatred of this world and Islam with love. We will combat the violence of this world and Islam with peace. Finally, we will combat eternal death this world and Islam brings with life everlasting!”
Keller’s confrontational rhetoric, what he calls a “no-nonsense style of evangelism [that] is refreshing if not radical,” has made him a lightning rod for controversy, particularly in his denouncement of Islam.
“There is coming soon a final showdown between Islam and Christianity,” he proclaims in a devotional on the Christian Center website. “As the two dominant religions on the planet, they will continue to collide as the final days of human history unfold. The good news is that we already know how it ends. That is why those who know Christ as their savior must stand strong in proclaiming his truth, since in the end, it is God’s Truth alone that will be standing.”
Keller plans on raising over eight million dollars for the 9-11 Christian Center at Ground Zero, with about one million used for facility expenses and the rest to purchase airtime for the “Live Prayer” TV program on secular networks both in New York City and nationally.
The goal of the airtime, Keller declares, is to “keep the daily flow of God’s truth regarding the issues of the day, to minister to people’s needs, to bring the lost to faith in Christ [and] to promote the 9-11 Christian Center at Ground Zero.”
Financial contributions to the 9-11 Christian Center at Ground Zero can be made at LivePrayer.com, with instructions to designate funds for the Center by marking “9-11″ on credit card or PayPal forms.