Healthcare providers have been on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic for more than a month as officials attempt to get a handle on the quickly spreading virus.

Following in the footsteps of other communities across Oklahoma in recent weeks, church members in Durant thought those healthcare providers should be given a thank you in one of the only ways possible while following social distancing protocols.

A large group of citizens and emergency personnel, including paramedics and firefighters, converged on the Alliance Health parking lot in Durant on the evening of April 10 to show support for those on the front line.

The event, titled “Headlights & Hope for Healing Hands,” was organized by Fairview Baptist Church member Holly Gerard and quickly took off through the Durant community and Bryan County.

“A lot of us had noticed our community pulling together and front-line healthcare providers taking on lot of burden during this pandemic,” Gerard stated. “We had seen lot of other communities with similar things like this, driving through the medical facility parking lots and flashing their headlights.

“We wanted to even add to that with a prayer time and worked with Pastor Ledbetter. Fusion Bible Church got involved as well. It was wonderful when KLBC radio got involved as well because we wanted everyone to be able to hear the prayer, and they put it on the radio at 6 o’clock.

“We asked people to come to the hospital during shift change and join together in corporate prayer, asking for strength for the community during these trying times. When a community is hit with a health crisis, a lot of burden is put on doctors and nurses because they are the ones that have to save lives. Fortunately, we haven’t had any deaths in Bryan County due to this virus, so we are very blessed.”

Gerard also added that they had heard from others that joined in prayer for the event, which was also presented by Lighthouse America, from other locations in the county while listening on radio.

She said what makes it even more special is that many people are closely bonded with emergency personnel in a community the size of Durant.

“We work together and pray together and many grew up with those front-line people involved,” she added. “I was happy to coordinate it. We thought that was something those larger communities were missing the boat (on), especially with how much we know these front-line people and have close personal bonds with them- doctors, nurses, EMTs, emergency management. This obviously takes an emotional toll on those people in particular and they need spiritual protection.

“We just wanted to make a gesture of how thankful we are for what they are doing to keep us all safe.”