Spring Lake church starts 'phone a friend' program to spread prayers, good conversation during COVID-19 social distancing

SPRING LAKE, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Spring Lake church is offering people an open ear and good conversations as communities continue to come to grips with social distancing.

As the pandemic sweeps the country, churches have been going through some adjustments.

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For Deborah Johns, the Outreach Director for Spring Lake Baptist Church, it was about finding a creative way to continue to reach individuals.

"Computers make it so easy for us not to communicate and I said, 'we need to get back to doing that,'" Johns said.

So, in response, Johns, along with other volunteers at the church, started making phone calls to a few people in their community to offer them prayers and good conversations on a daily basis.

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"I had to think outside the box, and that's very easy for me, because I don't even know where the box is," Johns said.

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It's an outreach program she's been sharing every day on their social media pages to encourage others to follow suit.

The longtime church member said their congregation is mostly made up of senior citizens, so ensuring those men and women have someone to talk to while they're stuck at home is vital.

"We need to check on them and talk to them," Johns said.
Johns knows the importance of maintaining a support system and having others check up on you.

Right now, she's going through radiation treatment for a second time to fight cancer in her right leg, recently getting her fibula surgically removed by doctors.

She told ABC11 she's expected to finish her treatment on May 4.

But, Johns has never let something so serious bring her down. She is always finding a way to make others laugh and bring some levity to situations, including wearing her old clown gear she used for ministry.

"The first time I went to radiation, I dressed up crazy and people looked at me like, 'this crazy woman...she must have a brain tumor.' And I said. 'What? Am I the only one that got the memo that this is fun Friday?'" Johns recalled.

Johns knows this is a worrisome time where people may be experiencing depression and anxiety and hopes one of her phone calls can make a difference.

She encourages others to take the time to make a personal phone call to a loved one, old friend or even a next door neighbor.
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