PHOENIX, AZ, May 1, 2020 – BridgeBuilders International and a coalition of churches across Arizona have combined their efforts to form Care for AZ, with a focus of providing resources and caring for the pressing needs of hospital workers and their families.
U.S. Sen. Martha McSally inspired the initiative when she heard about the crisis in hospitals and among healthcare workers in her home state of Arizona and challenged pastors to do something about it.
Dr. Hal Sacks, president of BridgeBuilders and lead coordinator of the effort, said, “I’m grateful to Sen. McSally for reaching out and sounding the alarm. The COVID-19 virus has brought overwhelming needs to our communities. We can all agree that hospitals are at the forefront of this chaotic battle,” he said.
“Our goal at Care for AZ is to partner churches with hospitals to focus on resourcing and caring for these warriors,” Sacks said. “They and their families have practical, emotional and spiritual needs, and it is vital we rally alongside these fearless heroes.”
A team of leaders from across the state is working with Sacks to help coordinate the statewide effort, including Waylon Sears, senior pastor of Victory Worship Center, Tucson; Dan Steffen, senior pastor of Pure Heart Church, Glendale; and Billy Thrall of CityServe AZ, Phoenix. Sen. McSally is connecting the hospital CEOs with the initiative. Together they are expanding and managing the network of churches that have come on board.
“We’re excited that Arizona pastors are enthusiastically responding to the crisis with practical and innovative solutions,” said Sears.
Victory Worship Center and Christ Church of the Valley (CCV), for example, have turned a portion of their church facilities into a day care center for children of health care professionals, placing eight children to a room with two children’s workers.
Victory also has helped set up and manage a day care center directly on one of the hospital’s premises. They have undertaken to support area hospitals by picking up medications for patients discharged from medical centers, ordering meals, and delivering groceries for doctors, nurses and other hospital workers.
“It seems like every couple days the needs are changing and intensifying,” said Sears, who coordinates the Care for AZ initiative in southern Arizona.
Christ Church of the Valley delivered 10,000 FDA-approved N95 masks to Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix recently. They plan to deliver another 10,000 masks to health care professionals in the coming weeks.
Other churches are holding blood drives, allowing their parking lots to be used for COVID-19 testing sights, providing health care workers with home services, coordinating with restaurants for take-home meals for hospital staff, and making gowns and face masks for hospital workers. Hundreds of parishioners are preparing and delivering “care packages” to offer stress relief.
Sacks adds that pastors and church chaplains are available to meet spiritual needs by providing prayer and conveying blessings.
In Flagstaff, Daniel Williamson, senior pastor of Church for the Nations (CFTN), is coordinating the northern Arizona effort. CFTN Flagstaff is providing nightly prayer during shift change in the parking lot outside Flagstaff Medical Center. Sen. McSally joined in the prayer session one night recently as scores of community members sat in their cars with their emergency lights flashing to let workers know they were being prayed for and that someone cared about them.
Pure Heart is a model church in serving area hospitals and is the central Arizona hub for the Care for AZ initiative.
“We believe that every single hospital in Arizona, from northern Arizona down to southern Arizona, will be connected with a church here in the next few weeks,” Steffen said.
“We have a guiding question as a church that if we were gone tomorrow would our community miss us. It’s for such a time as this that question is being answered.”
Sacks shares that view.
“I believe the church is on the frontline of history right now in America,” he said. “We have the greatest opportunity we’ve had in decades to make a difference in transforming lives and communities.”
Hospital and medical executives, contact Hal Sacks or call (602) 971-2222.