The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s prayer phone line has received 1,000 calls every day since its creation in March 2020 in response to COVID-19 and the lockdowns, said its assistant director Jonathan Edwards.
Most people call the prayer line because they’re afraid and worried about current events, said Edwards, who manages the prayer line for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, in an interview with The Christian Post. Call numbers rose rapidly at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdowns. They’ve started rising again at the beginning of January.
Right now, the phone line receives 200 more calls than usual every day, he said. Call numbers get even higher after the Rev. Franklin Graham appears on television.
“A lot of folks are just experiencing a lot of fear. People are just calling, and they don’t know where to turn. They see where we are in the world and they’re just not sure where to turn,” said Edwards. “They just need hope.”
Calls come from a mix of Christians and non-Christians, he said. Some of the people call because they experienced personal tragedies. Others call because they're stuck in COVID-19 wards without anyone to pray with, and still others call because they’re afraid of the increasing chaos and fear in American politics. They all want prayer.
People on the prayer line commonly ask for healing, peace from God, and comfort for fear, said Edwards. The BGEA, in a press release, shared several stories of individuals who called the prayer line. The group changed the names in the stories for privacy.
“Ines, a believer, voiced her concern about troubles at the Capitol. As a child, her family left Cuba during tumultuous times. Ines still remembers the disturbing events and is fearful of seeing continued unrest in America,” the release read. “The volunteer assured her that God sees everything that’s going on and He is the El Roi, a Hebrew name for God that means “the God who sees me.”
The BGEA originally planned for the prayer line to be a short-term feature during the COVID-19 lockdowns, Edwards said. But the lockdowns continued, and more people called than the group expected.
“[Call numbers] have been very, very, consistently high,” he said. “Eventually I thought we’d see that balance slow down, and it hasn’t. They need to find the hope of Christ somewhere.”
Over 6,700 people decided to follow Jesus after talking with volunteers on the prayer line, said Edwards. This number makes up part of a larger trend in evangelism. In 2020, 1.7 million people became Christians through the BGEA’s online ministries, an increase of 400,000 people from 2019.
The ministry team which operates the prayer phone line, reads the Bible to keep from feeling overwhelmed by the fears they hear about every day, said Edwards. Consistently dealing with fear can be an emotional burden.
“We’re going to experience fear. Nowhere in the Bible does Christ say we’re not going to experience fear,” Edwards said. “With a personal relationship with Jesus Christ you can know your salvation is assured, you can know where you’re going. There will be times that we’re fearful, but you can experience peace with God.”
Edwards said he often shares Psalm 56:3 with his team.
The text reads, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise —
in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”