There's hardly a busier, more burdened man in America right now than President Trump. And yet on Friday, when he heard that Vice President Mike Pence was about to jump on an FRC conference call with 700 pastors, he asked if he could join. Hearing his voice was a surprise, even to me -- but hearing his earnest desire to stand with the faith leaders of America in crisis certainly wasn't.
"When I told the president I was going to be speaking to all of you," Mike explained, "[he was] in the midst of an extraordinarily busy day. [But] he looked at me and said, 'I have to find time. I need to find time.'" To the president, he went on, "the prayers of the people on this call mean [everything] to him..." So despite everything facing America, the two most important leaders of this nation stopped everything to pray with the people on the ground, who are ministering to their communities.
It's a "wild world," the president started. The virus, he said, "came upon us so suddenly. And we were doing better than we've ever done before as a country in terms of the economy -- and then, all of the sudden, we got hit with this. So we had to close it down," he said wistfully. "We're actually paying a big price to close it down. Never happened before." But, President Trump insisted, "I think we're going to come back stronger than ever before."
Turning to the pastors -- the hundreds on the call and the 15,000 who heard it later on -- the president said sincerely, "I want to thank you for praying for our country and for those who are sick. You do such an incredible job. You're very inspirational people. And I'm with you all the way. You know that you see what we've done for right to life and all of the things that we've been working so hard together. I've been working with many of the people on the call. Many, many of the people. We've had tremendous support. But we are going to get over this."
Before the president left the call, I asked him what he'd most like people to be praying for. "The health of the country," he replied, "the strength of our country. We were doing something amazing, and then one day, it just ended. So that would be it." And, he added, that Americans would "make the right choice on November 3rd..." After I finished praying over the president, he said, "You know, you mentioned the word 'stamina.' We do need stamina. So thank you very much."
When the vice president took over, he wanted everyone to know, "The president and I couldn't be more inspired by the way communities of faith have been stepping up." He talked about the congregations keeping their food banks going and finding creative ways to work within the CDC guidelines. He mentioned churches offering child care to the health care workers on the front lines, combatting the virus. But most of all, he talked about how grateful he was to be a part of an administration that values its partnership with the congregations of America.
"You know, the president has said many times that we are going to we're going to bring the full resources of our of our federal government to bear on this. But by all of you being here today, and by the energies and ministries that you have [used to response] to the coronavirus in your communities, you're really putting hands and feet on your faith. And you are demonstrating what the president today called 'the greatness of American character' ...And we want to urge you on. We want a full partnership with you in sharing best practices again."
Continue to pray, Mike urged, for the experts counseling this president from every branch of government. Remember state and local officials, too, and people who are struggling and experiencing loss. We are so fortunate, Secretary Ben Carson echoed on that same call, that this happened during a time of economic growth and blessing. "God is merciful," Dr. Carson reminded us. "And we will get through this." Maybe, he said, this is an opportunity for the Lord to show His power in a way that will "help us return to Him." In the meantime, he assured, "God still has His hand on this nation. And He has His hand on all of us."
For more ways your church can get involved, bookmark this link: FRC.org/church. We'll be updating it daily with resources, information, and other ideas for pastors engaged in this crisis!
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.