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Prayer breakfast message offers hope

Dr. Rick Rigsby used the 23rd Psalm to bring hope during the 36th annual Suffolk Leadership Prayer Breakfast, which was held in virtual fashion on May 7, the National Day of Prayer.

Just like it usually does in person, the event featured inspirational speeches and testimonies — including from Rigsby, a renowned motivational speaker, pastor and author — scripture readings, prayer and music.

The video was played live on YouTube Thursday morning and remains available for viewing at tinyurl.com/virtualprayer. It had 412 views as of Tuesday afternoon.

“It is now more important than perhaps in any time in our living memory that we gather, even though not together but virtually, to fortify our spirits and to pray God’s glory,” Mayor Linda T. Johnson stated during the video.

Dr. Bill Jackson, who has been working directly with COVID-19 patients during the ongoing pandemic, welcomed viewers.

“We know that God will honor our prayers of faith and that it cannot be stopped by anything, including a current pandemic or a stay-at-home order that keeps us apart physically, but not spiritually,” Jackson said.

Delegate Emily Brewer and Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett gave scripture readings. Allen Strickland of Strickland Homes prayed for small businesses. Karen Hurd offered a prayer for Virginia and the United States, and Christian Broadcasting Network journalist Dale Hurd prayed for the world.

The program was bookended by “It Is Well With My Soul” by the Nashville Studio Singer Community Virtual Cellphone Choir and “How Great Thou Art” by the Anthem Lights band.

Virginia Beach woman Kristy Vomund shared a testimony from her friend, who fought COVID-19 in the hospital and is now recovering at home.

Her friend started feeling ill around March 19, Vomund said. On March 26, she had her husband take her to the hospital in the middle of the night because her breathing had changed. When they arrived, he couldn’t come in with her.

“I realized I had left the house and not told my family, my children, goodbye or that I love them,” Vomund said, reading her friend’s testimony.

Her friend was admitted to the hospital with influenza A and bilateral pneumonia and tested for COVID-19. She started feeling better, but she soon worsened again, and her test result came back positive. Doctors told her that her heart and lungs were working too hard to fight the virus, and they would put her on a ventilator.

“At that moment, I realized this is serious,” Vomund relayed that her friend said. “I might not wake up. As they put sleeping medication into my IV, I stated praying to God, and I prayed I would wake up, because there wasn’t time to call my husband and my kids.”

While the woman was sedated, doctors told her husband it didn’t look good. Everyone was praying.

“I can tell you that the prayers were felt and heard,” Vomund said.

The woman was removed from sedation and extubated a week later. She’s now recovering at home.

“I know for a fact that without everyone’s prayers and prayers from family and friends, I would not have made it through this virus and survived it,” Vomund said, reading from her friend’s story. “I now have a new outlook on life and what is important to me.”

Rigsby, the pastor and motivational speaker, brought a message of hope using Psalm 23.

“It’s important to gain perspective,” Rigsby said. “I’ve noticed one of the first things to leave in a time of tribulation is perspective. It’s important to remember as long as we’re breathing, we still have hope.”

Hope, he continued, “is a belief for the absolute best outcome. I have to believe with all my heart that this, too, shall pass.”

Rigsby said he has used Psalm 23 at every funeral he’s conducted for the past 30 years, but it took a pandemic for him to slow down and listen to what it was saying.

“David said regardless of the situation, God’s got me,” Rigsby said. “In fact, He provides in such a significant way, I don’t have any wants. He is so powerful, I can rest in His security.”

Rigsby said the urgency of the pandemic requires a response, and that Psalm 23 models a biblical response.

“That is a biblical perspective,” he said. “That is a biblical response to the urgency of the hour.

“When you stop and think about the power of God,” he continued, “the fact that no matter what’s going on in your life, whether you’re by a stream of water or you’re in the midst of trauma and tragedy, God’s presence is always with you. God’s provisions are always there for you, and God’s power is available to you.”

He added: “The word of the Lord today is that our hope is not found on CNN. It’s not found on Fox; it’s not found on CBS or ABC or NBC. Our hope is found at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

An in-person prayer breakfast is tentatively set for June 25.