Earlier this year, New York City quickly became the epicenter for COVID-19 cases in the United States. Hundreds of thousands tested positive and the death toll climbed higher each day. Among that number were 55 people from Greater New York Conference (GNYC) churches.
In all of this, Manuel Rosario, GNYC Personal Ministries and Sabbath School director, saw the need to reach out to people with a message of hope. In 16 short days, with the help of a dedicated committee and the support of the GNYC administrators, “Healing Hope” hit the airwaves May 16-23, bringing a much-needed dose of encouragement to New Yorkers experiencing fear, frustration, and despair.
Donnieval Walker, GNYC communication director, chaired the committee that organized the event. From the onset, God’s hand moved and opened doors for the series to take place with Dwight Nelson as guest speaker. A popular international speaker and pastor of the Pioneer Memorial church in Berrien Springs, Michigan, Nelson is usually booked years in advance.
GNYC also extended the invitation for other conferences represented in the hard-hit region to participate in the series. Northeastern Conference and New York Conference quickly came on board, as did the New Jersey Conference, which is in the Columbia Union. Before long, the three other conferences in the Atlantic Union Conference territory—Bermuda, Northern New England, and Southern New England—also joined in this amazing opportunity to make a difference in the lives of so many people.
Atlantic Union Adventist Media (AUAM) broadcasted the series live each evening on their social media platform and streamed it on the auam.tv website. Rohann Wellington, AUAM managing director and GNYC English Ministries director; Bledi Leno, GNYC Multi-ethnic Ministries director; and JeNean Lendor, Northeastern Conference assistant to the president for communication, hosted the program that included inspirational music, as well as the spoken word.
Nelson informed the viewers that COVID-19 was not an “act of God,” but, instead, was a virus brought on by the enemy and something that would not last forever. He also reminded them to maintain peace and close family ties as the city moves back into a sense of normalcy. Nelson’s messages shared hope, encouragement, and freedom in Jesus Christ.
“It is our prayer that something said would have drawn hearts closer to our Savior, who died to set us free, and that decisions made for the Lord would be sealed for His kingdom,” Walker said.
In addition to the nightly evangelism series, GNYC also established a crisis helpline, as well as a counseling and prayer line to assist those with specific needs or who just needed to talk. Viewers also had opportunity each night after the evening’s broadcast to tune in to “After Glow”—an interactive program on Zoom. Hosted by Billwayne Jamel, Yonkers church pastor, After Glow allowed participants to connect with special guests and ask questions about what they heard on “Healing Hope,” in addition to providing an opportunity to connect with others while safely observing social distancing. Viewers also received a free copy of After COVID-19 What’s Next? published by 3ABN.
“We know that all of heaven is rejoicing with us,” Walker said. “Most of all, we would like to thank our Heavenly Father for the vision, insight, and opportunity to be used to bring so many people together to receive a word of healing hope at a time in history which seemed so hopeless.”