It was a solemn and yet inspirational afternoon at Inspirations Senior Living Center as those who call the assisted living facility home gathered with staff and members of the general public for the COVID-19 Prayer Service.
The event was organized with the assistance of local resident Joe Burdzinski who, contemplating the enormous challenges and losses of the past 12 months, worked with the staff at Inspirations Senior Living to provide the community with the opportunity to spend a few moments in unity and reflection. Hosted on Monday, March 22, the prayer service brought spiritual leaders from a variety of denominations together to commune with the community, each offering words of hope, comfort and conviction in the power of faith.
“I want to thank everyone for being here today,” Burdzinski stated in welcome. “We have a jewel here in Pahrump and that jewel is Inspirations Senior Living Center. I want to thank the staff at Inspirations and Lisa (Gilbo, Inspirations staff member) for helping. You have a wonderful team here. Over the last year, it has not been easy, not only for the residents but for the staff that work here. And I can salute you and the other members of our community here, for making Inspirations a special place for our loved ones.”
Offering his thanks to Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly and the sheriff’s auxiliary for providing traffic control, as well as to commissioners Frank Carbone and Leo Blundo, who were both in attendance to show their support, Burdzinski then asked Carbone to lead the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. Following this, Burdzinski spoke briefly on the reason for the occasion before turning the event over to the spiritual leaders for their prayers.
“This is a special day where we all get together here to celebrate our community and to think and pray about people who have had COVID in our community and people who have passed away, plus staff who have suffered from COVID as well. This is something we will be overcoming, and are. And we’re grateful for the support, again, of all the medical teams and the staff here at Inspirations,” Burdzinski said, then introduced the first speaker of the afternoon, Pastor Neal Owen of New Hope Fellowship Church.
“Lord, we come before you today, believing in the promise of Second Chronicles 7:14 that if we humble ourselves, pray, and turn from our wicked ways, you will hear our prayer and heal our lands. Our community, nation and world are in desperate need of your help, comfort and healing power,” Owen intoned. “Lord, we ask you to forgive us for turning our hearts away from you. Hear our cry today as we join with others against this COVID crisis.
“Lord, strengthen our minds and emotions with truth, that you are greater than the COVID-19 virus. Your righteousness protects our hearts from despair, your word enables us to walk through this crisis in peace,” Owen continued. “Although this is a physical disease, as believers we know the enemy wants to take advantage of this moment. Together we stand in faith against the powers of darkness in this evil day. We put on the whole armor of God and stand firm on the promises of your word. We declare the promise of your word that no weapon formed against us will prosper. Therefore we pray in faith that COVID-19 will be eradicated, panic will stop and your power will fill the earth.”
Next to offer a prayer was Deacon Rick Minch of Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church, who opened his invocation by speaking to the season of Lent, a time of prayer, fasting and alms giving in preparation for the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection. As part of the Catholic Church’s services throughout Lent, Minch said there had been special Gospel readings from the New Testament, a portion of which he read that afternoon. “These readings certainly have a special message and a special meaning for all of us,” Minch said.
The first reading was of a section from John, Chapter 4, which relates a conversation between Jesus and a Samaritan woman who had come to a well to draw water. Minch continued with a reading from John, Chapter 9, regarding a man who had been born blind and whom Jesus heals. John, Chapter 11 was the third Gospel from which Minch read, regarding the raising of Lazarus.
“Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in him will never die. He is the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus is our living water, refreshing our souls. Jesus is our light in the darkness. Jesus is the resurrection and the life,” Minch said, summing up the messages woven throughout the three sections of text. “He reveals himself to us each day, in the faces of our friends, in the faces of our families, our caregivers, in the mirror. Jesus leads us to eternal life. Eternal life is our hope, and our hope is in Jesus. With everything that has happened in the last year, we need healing, we need hope, we need Jesus. Let’s ask him each day to strengthen us, to help us persevere, to be our hope as we journey to eternal life with almighty God.”
Following Minch, a recording of The Lords Prayer set to music was played, and many members of the audience could be heard gently murmuring the familiar words to themselves, with feelings of solace and faith clearly displayed in facial expression and body language.
Rabbi Levi Wilhelm of Chabad Southwest of Las Vegas then spoke.
“King Solomon, the wisest of all men, he writes in his book of Song of Songs, Shir Hashirim, how he would rather go to a house of mourning or to a memorial service rather than a celebration,” Wilhelm said, adding that people had questioned what could be behind King Solomon’s thinking. “They explain how when you go to a party, sometimes you wake up the next morning a little tipsy, you’re not a changed man. But when you go to a memorial, a place that we are trying to remember others, people who are not with us today, we’re here to learn something about them.
“So today, this week actually, many of you know it’s the week of Passover, the Jewish festival when the Jews left Egypt after many years of enslavement. And the Torah writes how when God took the Jews out of Egypt, there were many sicknesses and diseases after so many years of enslavement and he cured them of all diseases that were out there,” Wilhelm continued. “So today, let us pray together, just like back in the time we were cured, like the prayer says, from all sicknesses and all diseases, let us today pray how we are going to be saved and cured, 100%, from our today, COVID-19, and let us all say, ‘Amen’!”
Wilhelm concluded his remarks with a prayer in Hebrew, L’shon ha-Kodesh, before turning the microphone over to Inspirations Spiritual Leader Robert Stallworth.
“We’ve all heard of COVID-19. How many, raise your hands, have heard of consumption?” Stallworth asked. Several attendees’ hands were raised into the air in response. “Changed its name into tuberculosis, didn’t it? We’ve heard of the Spanish Flu, we’ve heard of many things that have beset mankind but we have always known that there is a better day coming.”
That better day, Stallworth said, will be the Rapture. “Jesus Christ has not come back, the Rapture has not taken place, but we look forward to it. And so things like COVID-19, tuberculosis, the Spanish Flu, and even HIV, are mere bumps in the spiritual road as we go on to the point where Jesus Christ comes back,” Stallworth said. “So that is what we look forward to today. COVID will pass away. Perhaps something will take its place in another 30, 40 or even 100 years. But we look forward to the day when Jesus Christ comes back.”
Burdzinski then wrapped up the prayer service, remarking on the fact that many present have someone in their lives who has suffered from, or even perished because of, COVID-19. In honor of those who have passed away as a result of the pandemic, a moment of silence was held, giving everyone the opportunity to take a moment and truly reflect on all that has occurred in the last year. “Thank you. God bless all of you, God bless all of our family, friends and neighbors here in Pahrump,” Burdzinski stated in closing.
Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at email@example.com