When Pastor A.B. Vines of New Seasons Church began having heart palpitations, he didn’t know it would end with a series of salvations and compassion projects for healthcare workers.
When Vines first visited a California hospital complaining of shortness of breath and cardiac flutters, he was assuming it was COVID-19 or a similar transient illness. However, after consulting with his doctors, Vines discovered he had a faulty heart valve that required emergency open-heart surgery.
Unaware that he was going to be hospital-bound for many days following his initial check-in, Vines only had his phone on him when he was admitted. His wife and family weren’t allowed to visit, even before surgery, due to pandemic restrictions, and there were no chargers or outlets in the waiting room to ensure that he had a way to communicate post-op. As Vines continued to hear other patients yelling from their rooms requesting a phone or a charger to speak with their families, he began to realize that everyone in the hospital was dealing with the severe fear of isolation on top of their pressing medical concerns.
“It is so lonely to be completely disconnected from your community while also dealing with medical issues. I couldn’t fathom how all of these patients were going through surgery while unable to give their loved ones any updates. I found out that the reason my wife’s friend, who recently passed away, refused to go to the hospital for so long was because she was scared to be by herself—that’s how important human connection is,” Vines shared.
After asking a nurse if the lack of chargers was a consistent problem, Vines was told that it was one of the hospital’s biggest dilemmas. The nurse commented, “We have 60 people in each ward, and we can’t charge everyone’s phones while also using outlets for mandatory medical equipment. But cell phones are a vital source of connectivity, during this pandemic especially.”
That was all Vines needed to hear.
From his hospital room, Vines commissioned his ministry team to obtain universally compatible chargers in a venture their church dubbed “Project Charge and Connect.” So far, New Seasons Church has been able to donate 2,000 chargers to hospitals across California, including the one that treated Vines. In the coming weeks, 18 more churches are joining the movement with the goal of donating 5,000 chargers to healthcare workers and patients in need.
With every charger, a small pamphlet is included that encourages recipients to remember three vitally important truths: everyone is blessed in order that they may be a blessing to someone else, they are the apple of God’s eye and each person is fearfully and wonderfully made.
Vines did some in-person evangelism as well, leading three staff members to Christ during his hospital stay and sharing the gospel with many more.
“No one left my room without me telling them about Jesus,” he said, “But I met the physical need first. If your phone dies in the hospital right now, you’re done—you’re alone. It’s like a holding cell, and people are scared and their healing is affected. I saw people frantically looking for plugs and exhausted nurses helping as best they could, and I decided to do something to help those around me stay connected and heal effectively.”
Bishop Vines and his church were able to meet an urgent physical and emotional need during a trying time because of their creativity and hearts for the gospel. If you and your church want ideas for how to start ministering in specific ways to your community, browse our ministry guides here to get creative with your service opportunities.
Published February 23, 2021