August 29, 2006
by Marianne Favro
San Francisco -- When battling a serious illness, people often feel helpless and isolated. But one California man set out to make sure patients know they're never alone.
Phil Busbee is used to praying for others. He's the pastor at the First Baptist church in San Francisco. But when complications from diabetes forced him into the hospital, this pager put him on the receiving end of hundreds of prayers. "Probably about 30 pages a day," he says.
Pastor Phil is benefiting from the prayer pager project. He received the pager while in the hospital and posted his prayer needs on this website. Now family, friends and even strangers page him every time they pray for him.
The pages are all numbers. some are random. other hold meaning. "They type in 1-2-3, which tells me they're from our church, or they type in their phone number."
Best of all, he doesn't have to return a single page. Leukemia survivor Scott Francis launched the program. he knows how much prayer helped him recover. "A group of people praying for you has a definitive effect on the outcome of your illness. So it helped me through it and I wanted to provide something along the same lines, only with a direct contact to the patient, so that's why I like the idea so much."
When Scott Francis first started the pager project, he had only three pagers for bay area patients. Now he has 135 in the hands of patients nationwide. While at Kaiser, Busbee had to have part of his foot amputated. He says one early morning page helped get him through a tough time.
MD Bruce Feldstein is also the chaplain at Stanford Hospital and Clinics. He says while most studies about the power of prayer have been inconclusive, he's convinced prayer makes a difference. "These kind of positive things do affect the body's immune system so they have an effect. so it's good for the person's spirit. I've seen that directly."
For pastor Phil, the beeps are a vocal reminder he's not alone. Battery powered technology serving as a welcome reminder of a higher power.
Since 2003, more than 200 patients have benefited from the project. To find out more about the project, go to www.prayerpager.com
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