Pastor Joshua Nelson of Mount Olive Church in Marion, South Carolina, came up with a unique idea. Taking a page from local police, he's gathering parishioners from his church to patrol the streets. But rather than cracking down on crime, they're going around neighborhoods, encouraging and praying for locals.
The concept is simple. Six days per week, Nelson's group, appropriately called the "Prayer Patrol," goes door-to-door counseling people and speaking with whomever is willing.
"If the church is always in the church, then who's in the streets? I think everybody needs more prayer, I think it just kind of came together and I said, let's just walk down the streets and God will lead us to certain people, and let's just pray for them," Nelson explained.
And the pastor said that neighbors are open to the Prayer Patrol, especially when they realize that there are no gimmicks and that the group isn't going door-to-door selling anything.
"Once they find out we're not just there doing some crazy selling something like that, we're just there for a prayer, they'll often open the door let us in, they're happy to receive a prayer, just to know that someone is thinking about them, and thinking about them."
Their slogan is an easy one to remember: "Keep calm and pray on."
So far, Nelson claims that the Prayer Patrol has been a rousing success. Rather than being turned away, the preacher told WBTV-TV that almost no one refuses the group. Donald J. Smith mirrored this sentiment, telling the outlet the same.
"We've been getting a good response from it, and the community appreciates that we're coming out, just having prayer with them, just to give them hope that something needs to be done, for a change," Smith said.
It seems the group's efforts are paying off, as the community is being inspired by the simple act of kindness.