Prayer Ambulance: Wellington church's innovative way to get Kiwis to try prayer

The Anglican Diocese of Wellington has found a new way of encouraging people to give prayer a go - an ambulance.

It's kitted out the mobile prayer room with the aim of helping those who might be put off by a traditional church.

The Diocese wants all people to feel comfortable praying - but realises a church might not be for everyone.

"They may have had a bad experience in the past, or just feel daunted by the concept," project co-ordinator Richard Apperley told Newshub.

"So part of this is just to be somewhere a bit more neutral, just so people can begin that journey."

It's taking the prayers to the people, with New Zealand's first ever mobile prayer unit.

"I think there's a certain beauty in having an ambulance, which was used to heal bodies and heal the sick, and transferring that to something that's used to heal people's souls," says Mr Apperley.

He found the converted 1984 ambulance on TradeMe. A keen fixer-upper, he set about turning it into a functional prayer unit.

"There have been a number of issues with the vehicle itself - leaks in the roof, a bit of rust we needed to deal with - but it's been surprisingly easy given the age of it," he says.

Fixed up and kitted out with couches, books, and advice, the Prayer Ambulance will travel throughout the Diocese - which takes in Wellington, the Wairarapa, and Whanganui - and park up where it's needed. It'll be on-hand as a resource for the experienced, and a safe space for the beginner.

"As a Diocese what we are praying for actively is to bring people to Jesus that don't already know him," says Mr Apperley.

"Fundamentally, that's our goal: to heal rifts where there's been hurt before, and just be present and available for people."

While people can't ring it for an emergency prayer, the ambulance can be borrowed by anyone - with petrol the only cost.

"One of the bookings we've had already is to park it up at the university during exam time, so people can come in and have quiet and centre themselves before they go in and do their exams," Mr Apperley says.

And if the idea of getting into the back of an ambulance feels like a bit of a leap of faith, Mr Apperley says that's what prayer's all about.

"Any time you pray it is a leap of faith. You never know what's going to happen, how they'll react, and what the outcome's going to be."

He's set up a PledgeMe to help cover the costs of purchasing and fitting out the ambulance. If it reaches its $20,000 target, he and Bishop Eleanor Sanderson will take a leap of their own.

"I'm slightly terrified about this. We're going to take a skydive together. Representing the leap of faith but also the partnership of what we're doing."

And while someone's suggested adding a Prayer Police Car and Prayer Fire Engine, for now, Apperley's just hoping other Diocese in New Zealand get on board with similar ideas and take them on the road too.