Pastor takes 50-mile ‘prayer run’ to fight COVID-19

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy of Theresa Payne
BELLE GLADE — Theresa and the Rev. Eric Payne, center, stop for a selfie with a couple of well-wishers along their route.

BELLE GLADE — Counting on the power of prayer to help make a difference in the hunkered-down-against-coronavirus state of the world, Pastor Eric Payne of Belle Glade decided to do another “prayer run” last Friday — the day Gov. Ron DeSantis’s stay-at-home order took effect.

This time it was 40-plus miles round trip. There were a lot of intentions to cover, said the Rev. Payne, who pastors New Zion Assembly – The New Church. Like everyone else, they are observing the public advisories about how to stay safe from COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, which has affected so many aspects of modern life.

“I’m going to do … a run/walk starting from the same location, Lakeside Hospital. But this time I’m going to go all the way to the Red Barn, which is down by Pratt-Whitney,” he said in a phone chat Thursday, April 2.

Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy of Theresa Payne
Pastor Eric Payne trods his familiar route outside of Belle Glade.

He and his wife, Theresa, organized a previous run in November to try to draw attention to and raise money for their nonprofit organization, Glades Family Services, which aims to establish a shelter for homeless people in the region. That is still a goal, although their fundraising has stalled. Pastor Payne says they’ve been making contacts with people representing “deeper pockets” than are available in the Glades. He said he’s had discussions with Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay on that and she’s on board with the ultimate objective. County officials have, coincidentally, been working hard on the homelessness issue.

Wide-ranging effects of virus

The Rev. Payne said the purpose of the “COVID-19 Global Run” was, simply, to plead for divine intervention.

“We’re praying for the globe, for the cure, for healing, for jobs, for the economy, for the essential workers, for global leaders and for, in any way, shape or form about how this COVID-19 virus has affected us. I know many people are, of course, praying all over the nation and the world.

“And I chose Friday, April 3, because tomorrow the stay-at-home order is effective. But running is an essential activity, so I’m within the boundaries of that, and I spoke to a local captain who assured me I wouldn’t be pulled over or anything.”

‘Prayer changes things’

“Me and my wife, and my church, we’re praying. And we just want people to know … We believe that prayer changes things.”

He started off at 4 a.m., and his wife followed in their vehicle. His objective was to make it back home before sundown, and his self-challenge was met.

“Our goal,” said Mrs. Payne, “is to bring the attention of prayer for our world as we are all affected by this COVID-19 pandemic. We are praying for healing and a cure, all essential workers, all leaders both politically and religiously, strength for all who have lost loved ones due to this virus, and above all, PEACE.”

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment