The events of the past year affected not only the human body, but the soul and spirit as well.
First, there came news of a virus half a world away. Before we knew it, the virus was here and suddenly we could no longer go out in public or see loved ones. Then we heard story after story of people living in isolation, falling into hopelessness and depression, and increased rates of suicide from those who believed they had no hope left.
But if there’s been one ray of light during this horrible, trying year, it’s the prayerful interactions of hope and joy we’ve found with our website’s many users.
We established GiveSendGo five years ago with the intent of creating an online fundraising business that applied Christian values to our model. This includes, of course, the idea that prayer is the most powerful expression of human spirituality.
We included prayer in our business model for two reasons: one, because we genuinely care about our customers’ spiritual and mental health, and two because we wanted a personal touch to our site to set it apart from competitors like GoFundMe.
The prayer function works in two ways. First, every fundraising campaign launched on our site has a prayer button that Givers (our name for those who generously donate) can express further encouragement to the campaign owner.
But we don’t stop there. The other aspect to our model involves our staff whose job it is specifically to pray for others. Each time a campaign goes up on our site, one of our staff will call the campaign owner and offer to pray with them over the phone, and that is where we’ve had some of the most moving moments in our careers as business owners.
We’ll admit that even though we worked this feature into our business model, we’ve been blown away by the reaction from people when we make these calls, especially during the worst parts of COVID-19. Folks who haven’t seen another human for weeks or months have told us over and over how much it means that we bothered to call. Many campaign owners are not Christians but still are touched by the love and compassion they are being offered.
We have talked to people who also asked us to call other family members. We have offered support for people as they were going into medical procedures that they were terrified about but felt peace after we prayed with them. We have had phone calls that last almost an hour with people who just needed someone to talk to. We have cried with people who have felt like they were in a desperate situation and so alone, yet they now feel heard and supported.
One of our employees recently left a voicemail prayer for a man who just lost his brother. They were in need of funeral expenses and taking care of his brother’s children. The man called the next day and left a message asking if we would also call his parents and pray with and for them. We were able to pray for them as well, which touched us deeply.
Another staff member spoke to a man whose campaign was about reuniting fathers with their children, no matter how long it had been or the circumstances that drove them apart. As he was sharing, our staffer was reminded of her lack of a relationship with her own father, and all the things the caller said hit her on so many levels. The caller encouraged her to think and pray about it, and get in touch with her father. It ended up bringing her healing she didn’t know she needed.
We aren’t just in the business of helping people raise funds, although that certainly is the primary function of GiveSendGo. Our business is to provide real connections, both human and spiritual, to those who choose to come to our site for their needs.
People do of course need money, but there truly are some things money can’t buy. It can’t buy friendship, it can’t cure loneliness, and it can’t guarantee spiritual satisfaction in life the way God can.
The connections you can make through prayer and conversation with someone certainly can bring them hope in that moment, but there are long-term effects as well. Hope makes people fight through depression and loneliness, hope encourages people to confront their fears and take their lives into their own hands, and hope motivates us to live more courageously each day that we are blessed to wake up.
That’s ultimately why we started GiveSendGo. To leave a mark on this world through our human interaction. It’s the way we choose to measure our success.
• Jacob Wells and Heather Wilson are siblings and the cofounders of GiveSendGo.com
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