This content is being provided for free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. Please support local journalism by subscribing to the Northwest Florida Daily News.
FORT WALTON BEACH—Nurses working in the Fort Walton Beach Medical Center set their alarms for 5 p.m on Monday night. That’s when several local churches came out to the hospital parking lot to spread gospel music and pray for hospital staff and patients.
“We want everyone to feel loved and we want hope to arise,” said Jessamyn Hawkins, youth director for Ocean City Church. “We just want hope for every single person in that building.”
Hawkins said she wanted to do something similar to an idea she saw on social media.
Hawkins, her husband, her mom and several others from the church came out Sunday to sing and pray in the parking lot. After getting such positive feedback, they returned with a larger group Monday.
“The church is not a building,” she said. “People are the church.”
Members of at least three different churches spread out in the parking lot near the main entrance of the hospital Monday, kneeling in prayer or praising the Lord with hands raised.
“We’re here for you,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins emphasized the importance of safety and social distancing during the event.
“We’re all spaced out, but we’re together…It’s just like finding the way to be connected in this world still without being connected,” she said.
As the song “This is How I Fight my Battles” played in the background, Hawkins explained how the church is trying to provide help and comfort.
“There’s something about stepping foot where the need is,” she said. ”We’re bringing the Holy Spirit right here.“
Jeff Yates, senior pastor at the Ocean City Church, said the Lord told him that they were the “spiritual first responders.”
Yates said everyone who came out was doing their part in the best way they knew how.
“This is our engagement,” he said. “This is a body of believers and so... that’s what we’re doing.”
Jeimy Jimenez, a member of the Emerald Coast Church brought her daughter Jayme to the event because her daughter loves to sing and pray.
“I’m a strong believer that prayer changes everything,” Jeimy said.
Hawkins said she wants to continue doing this type of prayer every night to support the hospital staff
“There’s a lot going on in our world and we can’t have enough hope right now in all different aspects,” she said.