AZ Churches Working To Partner with Every Hospital in State During Coronavirus Outbreak


Churches throughout the state of Arizona are partnering with hospitals to help meet the needs of health care providers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hal Sacks, who along with his wife Cheryl leads the Christian ministry BridgeBuilders International, is a lead coordinator of the effort, which he told The Western Journal came as a result of a call from Sen. Martha McSally.

The Arizona Republican saw the good work her home church, Victory Worship Center in Tucson, was doing in supporting local hospitals and wanted to see if it could be replicated statewide.

McSally knew Sacks had contacts throughout the Grand Canyon State and would be someone who could take the point in the effort.

The Christian leader conducted his first video conference call last week, which included 90 Arizona pastors, and has held more since, focusing on different regions of the state.

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On the first call, McSally offered some introductory remarks, followed by her pastor, Waylon Sears from Victory Worship Center.

She explained that as a senator she sees her three primary roles to play during the coronavirus pandemic as legislator, communicator and connector.

Regarding the latter, McSally said, “In my role as a senator, I have relationships and the ability to connect quickly with all different segments of our government, of our private sector across the board and our faith-based community and our fellow Christians and pastors like all of you.”

The Air Force combat veteran then recalled how important it was to know that the home front was supporting her and her fellow service members when she deployed to the Middle East after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

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“Health care workers and our first responders are [now] those front line warriors,” McSally said, and they need to know someone has their backs.

“They are going into unprecedented challenges of trying to quickly save lives and make decisions and working long hours, nonstop,” she continued. “It’s extraordinary stress what they’re under.”

In that light, McSally would love to see church members and others help lift the load for Arizona’s some 73 hospitals.

She told the faith leaders she had already been in touch with CEOs of the major health care providers in Arizona  — including Banner Health, Tenet Healthcare, Honor Health and Dignity Health — on a myriad of issues brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

After McSally had spoken, Sears shared with pastors some of the initiatives his church has undertaken in the Tucson area to support local hospitals.

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With schools shut down and day care facilities closed, one of the greatest areas of need for health care providers is licensed child care.

Many churches are perfect candidates to step into this need because of the infrastructure already in place with their child ministry programs.

Among other requirements, they already have scores of volunteers who have received background checks.

Victory Worship Center is meeting the CDC guidelines by breaking up the children into groups of fewer than 10.

Sears told The Western Journal that at the beginning of each day the temperatures of the children and volunteers are taken and classroom areas are cleaned and disinfected in the effort to keep everyone safe.

Other initiatives Victory has undertaken to support area hospitals include picking up medications for patients discharged from medical facilities, delivering groceries for doctors and nurses (which is particularly helpful with shortened store hours in effect) and ordering in meals for hospital workers.

The church is even providing care packages (black pens, drinks, granola bars, lotions, etc.), chaplain and pastoral care for patients’ families and notes of encouragement to doctors, nurses and patients.

“It seems like every couple of days the needs are changing and intensifying,” Sears said.

Larrie Fraley, the lead pastor of missions at Christ’s Church of the Valley in Phoenix, told his fellow Christian leaders on the video conference call that his church’s efforts are currently focused on providing three things: child care, blood drives and COVID-19 testing locations.

“We view the church as an extension of the hospital,” Fraley told The Western Journal.

“The service that we’re providing we view as critical because without a doctor or nurse able to take their child somewhere, they have to stay home with them and then of course they’re not at the hospital doing their job,” he said.

Christ’s Church of the Valley has currently opened child care up to Banner Health workers (but may expand to others) and has plans and the infrastructure to watch hundreds of kids in groups of seven, with two adults supervising each group.

The church is also providing breakfast, lunch and dinner to children every day.

CCV is the largest church in Arizona (and one of the largest in the country), with 10 campuses throughout the Phoenix metro area, averaging 45,000 attending per week in normal times.

Because of their multiple locations, CCV was also a perfect candidate to open their parking lots up to Banner Health to conduct drive-thru COVID-19 testing.

Dan Steffen, senior pastor at Pure Heart Church in Glendale, is working with Sacks to help coordinate the statewide effort.

“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,” he told The Western Journal.

“We have a guiding question as a church that if we were gone tomorrow would our community miss us, and it’s for such a time as now that question is being answered,” Steffen said on the conference call.

GOP Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona is a member of Pure Heart Church, and, like McSally, has been inspired by what she’s seen.

“I’m trying to do everything to promote [Pure Heart] and the other churches,” she told The Western Journal.

The congresswoman is also staying in direct contact with hospitals to make sure they are receiving the supplies they need.

Lesko recently moderated a call between local hospitals in the Phoenix area with representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Pure Heart has undertaken initiatives similar to Victory and CCV’s, but it has also opened a taco stand on its campus, run by one of the restauranteurs in the congregation.

The proceeds from the new Brushfire Tacos y Tapas location are going to support hospitals and the community at large.

Last week, the church delivered 500 free burritos to the Banner Thunderbird hospital.

“The health care workers, they were just so happy,” Steffen recalled.

“Church is going to be one of the brightest parts of the [coronavirus] story,” the preacher said. “I’ve never seen the church engage the community and unite with one another like we are right now.”

Sacks shares that view.

“I believe the church is on the front line of history right now in America, and has the greatest opportunity it has had in decades to make a difference in transforming communities and lives,” he said.

Church congregations interested in joining the hospital initiative can learn more here.

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 2,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Graduated dean's list from West Point
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith