Dozens of people in parked cars said prayers, flashed their lights and honked their horns Tuesday night to show their support for the Marion General Hospital (MGH) staff and patients during a socially-distanced prayer vigil.
“Our staff was very moved by the outpouring of prayers and encouragement to help them get through this time,” said MGH representative Sarah Evans. “The way the community is embracing us is just really encouraging.”
Third-grader Kalinn Larimore and her sister Kinleigh showed their appreciation by holding homemade signs for their Uncle Eric and Aunt Emily, who work in the hospital.
Chelsie Bundrick said she came to pray both for the people working and the patients and hopes others continue to pray with her.
“Pray for everybody here working and pray for the patients as well. Everybody is fighting their own battles with the situation,” she said.
Chelsie’s sister, Emily, is a nurse in the intensive care unit, and her husband is a firefighter.
“(People) don’t know how close to home it hits when you have somebody on the front lines of it,” Chelsie said. “We haven’t been able to see them.”
Emily was able to see her family from outside of their car during the vigil.
“The outpouring of support from the community really helps us get through hard times, long hours, long shifts, not being able to see our families, not being able to eat during our lunch break,” Emily said. “I think a lot of this has been really hard on not just nurses but the medical staff in general.”
The hardest part of fighting the spread of the coronavirus for Emily is the emotional toll it has taken on her.
“I wish people knew that this is serious and just stay at home,” Emily said.
Lisa Huber, along with MGH, organized the prayer vigil when two of her fellow Brookhaven Wesleyan Church members were patients at MGH.
“We often feel powerless because what can we do?” Huber said. “Prayer is such a huge, powerful thing.”
Huber said her daughter was recently in a car accident and was told by many health professionals that she would not make it.
“God had other plans,” Huber said. “We saw what the power of prayer could do.”
Bob Jackson, the director of the county Emergency Management Agency, said participating in prayer vigils while practicing social distancing is an excellent way to help during this time.
Grant County Health Officer David Moore said the ordinary citizen can’t do anything about the number of ventilators the county has, but they can come together in prayer.
“Because we can’t assemble together doesn’t mean we can’t pray together,” Moore said. “The virtual praying together is good, (and) the physical coming together, being in the cars, respecting the importance of (social distancing), but still coming together and bringing those voices together.”
Brookhaven Wesleyan Church is also hosting online Zoom calls for 24-48 hours of prayer through the night and has held smaller vigils to support one of their own members who has been fighting pneumonia for more than a month.
Close family friends of the church member spread out along the sidewalk outside of his house and prayed for his family.
“We just all pulled together and really did what any friends would do,” said Drew Jourdan, a friend of the family. “We just were the church for these people.”
Jourdan said she thinks the global church, not only Brookhaven, is stepping up to show God’s love.
Social distancing, according to Jourdan, is making it difficult to comfort friends during this time.
“It’s a hard season,” Jourdan said. “You want to be with your friends that are struggling, and you can’t physically be with them. You can’t give them a hug, but you can show up on the sidewalk in front of their house and pray.”
During Holy Week, from April 5-11, there will be prayer vigils each night outside MGH from 6:30-7:30 p.m.
“I hope that beyond this pandemic that they continue to embrace Marion General Hospital as their health care provider for services and just continue to be in the gap with us as we pray and ask for God’s mercy for our community,” Evans said.