A nationwide study of Christians found that church leaders can play an important role in convincing more people to get the COVID vaccine. In our rural communities, there are people like Naaman in 2 Kings 5: 1-19, people who may seem initially hesitant to take the vaccine but can be convinced to listen to a prophet.
Naaman was a great Aramean warrior suffering from leprosy. An Israelite slave girl suggested that there was a prophet in Israel who could cure him. Naaman traveled to Samaria looking for a cure. The Prophet, Elisha, sent a message for Naaman to come to him. Elisha told him to wash seven times in the Jordan River. At first, Naaman was insulted by this cure and raged. He had cleaner waters closer to his home, plus this cure seemed too simple to be effective. One of his servants calmed him down and convinced him to follow Elisha’s direction. Naaman was looking for Elisha to put on a show and call for a miracle. His servant reminded him that the miracle, God’s work, wasn’t in the show but in his simple obedience. We are told that Naaman was cured of his disease after following the guidance of the prophet.
A nationwide study from the Public Religion Research Institute found that faith-based approaches could convince 47 percent of vaccine-hesitant white evangelical Protestants, 36 percent of Black Protestants, and 33 percent of Hispanic Protestants to get the COVID vaccine. One-third of the Protestant Christians who are very worried about the safety of the vaccine said they would be more likely to get the vaccine if their church encouraged them.
The specific church activities that would encourage the vaccine-hesitant Christians to get a shot includes:
- Their minister encouraging vaccine acceptance.
- Their minister getting the vaccine.
- Their religious community holding information forums.
- Learning that a fellow church member received the vaccine.
- Their church providing vaccine appointment assistance.
As the Delta variant roars across North Carolina, we are seeing the number of COVID cases and the number of COVID-related hospitalizations increasing at alarming rates. The miracle has occurred in the unprecedented speed of developing the vaccine and the ability to produce enough vaccine doses for everyone in the United States.
There is now a service that will administer the vaccine in the homes of people unable to get it otherwise. The At-Home Vaccination Hotline is 866-303-0026 or www.ptrc.org/covid. Requests will be answered within three business days. Flyers are available in English and Spanish.
Now is the time for the vaccine-hesitant Naaman’s around us to listen to a prophetic voice and get their vaccine. The church has an important role in encouraging and assisting people in staying healthy and there are several resources to help.