News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Nov. 19, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Every day people pray for their families, their friends and even people they don't know. Often times you can feel prayer, but it's not a tangible thing. You can't touch it, see it, hear it, but a local church has found a way for you to be able to do all those things. First Baptist Church of Augusta is using technology to show the power of prayer.
Three little beeps on a pager is all it takes to help make someone's day a little brighter.
"That thing vibrates, you just see them light up," said Len Collins with First Baptist Church of Augusta.
It's called a prayer pager. First Baptist Church of Augusta has a dozen of them and gives them out to those in need of prayer. Each time someone calls the pager number, it lets them know someone is praying for them.
"It's the most annoying thing that used to be around and we've taken it into a ministry," Collins said.
"Every time it beeps, it means somebody's praying for me," said Norma Strohmenger, who has had a prayer pager for almost six months.
"You really didn't know if anybody was praying for you after you left church," she explained. "This tells me yes."
She's basically confined to a bed or wheelchair and has been in and out of the hospital for months.
"I know that there are a lot of people at the church that will pray just because I'm in a wheelchair at the church, but this gives me proof that they're praying," she said.
Those prayers give her the strength to keep going.
"I've wanted to go on, pass on, because this pain is so bad, but every time I get a beep then it says, 'No, he's got something in mind for you'," she said.
For the person praying, sending that prayer is easy and takes less than minute. All you do is dial the pager number, make the call and then press the numbers 7-3-3, the number of letters in the words praying for you.
"We're doing what we're supposed to be doing as God's children and that's just being there by their side. It's our presence," Collins said.
Those simple beeps have helped families like the Hustons through the toughest times in their lives.
"You don't quite feel so isolated. You feel like you have this whole army behind you," said Jennifer Huston.
She and her husband, Steven, had a pager after the birth of their twins at just 25 weeks.
"It was four and a half months of roller coaster up and down," Mr. Huston said.
Bennett and Anna weighed around one pound each and had multiple surgeries.
"A lot of people wouldn't know how to respond to us," Mr. Huston said. "They'd say, 'I don't know what to do. I'm praying for you,' but that's a nice tangible way for them to be able to tell us that they are supporting us in prayer."
They kept a blog and gave out their pager number and soon prayers were coming from all over the world.
"At those times in our life when we needed the extra prayers, it seemed like they were automatically there," Mrs. Huston said. "You wouldn't have to ask for them, but the pager would just start buzzing, buzzing, buzzing."
That buzzing became even more crucial when Bennett lost his fight.
"It wasn't our own strength at all," Mrs. Huston said. "There's no way we had enough strength in our body to lose a child and go through all the struggles we went through and do it by ourselves."
Five years later, Anna is a beautiful, happy little girl that her parents truly believe is here as an answer to all the prayers.
"I have no question that everything that's happened is in God's plan," Mr. Huston said. "There's absolutely no doubt about that in my mind."
The church has 12 pagers and six are out right now. Collins says pagers are constantly coming in and out as situations change. They give the pager numbers out in church and also on the weekly bulletin sent to all the members.