NEW YORK, NY–A spiritual care hotline offering prayer and comfort to New York City area residents living in the epicenter of the nation’s COVID-19 pandemic went online Saturday, April 4, 2020.
“We are dealing with an unseen enemy,” said Mike Flannery, disaster relief director of the Baptist Convention of New York. “Fear is permeating New York City and the surrounding areas. You can’t walk a block without seeing the fear on faces.”
“A lot of people don’t know the hope in Jesus Christ, so they have no one to turn to in this time of stress and pressure,” Flannery added. “The line is set to give pastoral encouragement and prayer, while showing the love of God.”
The spiritual care hotline number is 888-877-NYPRAYS; or 877-697-7297.
Under the auspices of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief and the North American Mission Board, SBC, the toll-free hotline will be staffed daily by trained, SBDR volunteer chaplains from across the nation, Monday-Sunday from 9 a.m.- 9 p.m. EST.
While chaplains are not mental health professionals, they have received training from mental health professionals.
The hotline is similar to one established in Florida in March. Other state conventions sponsoring prayer lines include California, Texas, Virginia, Arizona and Illinois.
The suggestion to establish a prayerline in New York City was made by Delton Beall, Florida Baptist disaster relief director as he watched news account of the coronavirus and its devastating impact on the metropolitan city.
“I had such a burden for the people and their suffering,” said Beall. “I felt led to reach out to them to offer prayer and comfort.”
Flannery said NYC’s Southern Baptist churches are distributing food and medicine to their communities, showing the love of Christ in tangible ways.
To implement the hotline, Flannery presented the idea to the state‘s coalition of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), which overwhelmingly approved the idea.
A promotional campaign to create awareness of the hotline to New York residents will begin this week.