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Honking horns and flashing lights brought tears to the eyes of some Marion General Hospital (MGH) workers as they made their way toward the window of the hospital on March 31.
As the entire community went into self-quarantine mode after Gov. Eric Holcomb issued statewide restrictions to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, dozens of families gathered inside their vehicles in the overflow parking lot to show their support to the hundreds of people working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lights and sounds were accompanied by people hanging out from the windows of their vehicles displaying signs scribbled with hearts, stars and words of thanks.
While the commotion of car horns and flashing lights normally act as a sign of distress, the deafening sounds and light display meant something very different this time around.
“The staff (was) greatly moved,” MGH Chaplain Jeffrey Horsman said. “They wanted to take a moment to go and see the cars gathered with their light flashing to signify they are praying. Then, (they wanted) to hear the horns blaring in tribute. Staff members have continued to ask me who is coming next and when it will happen again. I am very excited about this (has been) happening for a whole week, and I pray that many, many people and churches come out in support.”
Every day since Horsman said Brookhaven Wesleyan Church organized the first prayer vigil outside MGH on March 31, people have shown up to pray for MGH staff and essential workers across the county.
With the help of Austin Everson from New Life Community Church, Horsman said they were able to set up things so religious leaders can broadcast prayers to people gathered in their cars or at home.
The prayers bring Horsman feelings of gratitude during these unprecedented times, and he said it helps people realize they are not “on an island” and alone but united as a community.
“It is very moving to lift up your community, the hospital staff and patients, and indeed our country and world as we deal with this crisis,” he said. “It is awesome to join together with others in prayer. From the perspective of a hospital employee, it is humbling and moving to see your community support you.”
When the community gathers in prayer, Horsman said he thinks of Matthew 18:20, which says, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
“We are praying in concert to humble ourselves before God and to ask for his help and his direction,” Horsman said. “God told Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7: ‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’ I believe that is the kind of prayer we need. We need to humble ourselves before a loving God, and seek Him, not only individually, but as a community of faith and a geographical community. As we pray and seek to follow God, I believe God does hear us. He does grant forgiveness, and he does bring healing.”
In this communication, Horsman said it is important for people to humble themselves and tell God, “We need you.”
“It is an admission that we need him and rely on him… Prayer is also aligning ourselves with God, seeking his will. James said in James 4:2-3, ‘You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives,’” Horsman said. “When we humble ourselves before God and pray in alignment with His will, miraculous things can happen.”
To help with the efforts, MGH and local pastors have put together a prayer guide on the hospital’s Facebook page. It contains scripture and a map of the MGH campus to guide people in their prayer.
Horsman said the outpouring of prayer has “amazed” and “encouraged” the patients inside the hospital.
“Each one I have talked to has been very willing to receive the prayers of God’s people,” he said. “It is humbling.”
As Horsman prays each day, he focuses on the long-term outcome.
“I pray for our faith community to unite together, for us to continue to seek God’s face, and for healing to come to our land. I pray that this is not a single point in time event, but that this moves people to continue to turn to God and to follow Jesus with their whole lives,” he said. “I pray this sparks an awakening in Grant County and in our nation as well.”