The government can't do everything. And Governor Pete Ricketts (R-Nebr.) knows it. With Nebraska's infection rates climbing, and more people hunkered down at home, the Cornhuskers decided to call in reinforcements: the church.
"We all need prayers as we work through this challenging time," Governor Ricketts tweeted. But just as importantly, he needs congregations and their families to pitch in. Nebraska can't do it alone, he agreed, so he conferenced in 500 faith leaders and let them know the state was in this together. "I wanted to let them know how we were making decisions at the state," Ricketts told me on "Washington Watch" Thursday, but also, he said, "I want[ed] to solicit help." First on the list? Prayer. "Not only for myself," he explained, "but all of our health care workers, our first responders, all of our leaders across this nation are working to address this challenge."
A lot of people can't leave their homes -- because they're either sick or at risk. "They may need errands run. They may need food dropped off. We're asking those faith leaders to really leverage their congregations who will know folks in their communities [and adopt them]." Like a lot of leaders, Governor Ricketts is doing everything he can from a statewide perspective, but he also realizes that Nebraskans need boots on the ground. "We're not there in the local community... as much as our [churches] are. So we want their help."
In particular, Ricketts pointed out, they want to make sure the parents on the front lines of this virus battle have child care. "We're asking for the help from those faith leaders to be able to help set that up, so that our health care workers and our police and firefighters can go to work to continue to protect the public... [That's] a huge problem if they can't find places to have their kids looked after during the day." Churches, he thinks, can offer some relief.
Has it been tough? Absolutely. Like everyone else in his position, this is unchartered territory. "This is a huge challenge for our country," Governor Ricketts admitted, "but it also represents a time for us to take a step back and reflect on what's really important. And now, we have an opportunity now to show what's really important by loving our neighbors and helping take care of them."
Our hats go off to men of faith like Governor Ricketts, who recognize what a fundamental role pastors and faith leaders play in times of crisis. What a refreshing change from the hard-core liberals, who see the religious community as an obstacle rather than a partner.
"We do a lot of really important things in government, but one thing government can't do is love. That takes people..."
To find out more about how you can get your congregation involved, check out David Closson's "Be Not Afraid: How Churches and Church Leaders Can Respond to the Coronavirus."