The Rev. Jamal Bryant, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, has received an overwhelming response in asking his members to “tag, text and tell somebody” about the congregation’s giveaway of $365,000 to assist those hurt financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m paying people’s rent off, I’m paying people who are delinquent in their mortgage payment, I’m paying for those in their final notice before their utilities are cut off,” Bryant said in a Facebook Live broadcast. “I’m gonna bless students who need computers, who need wi-fi in their home. I’m purposed and determined I’m going to spend all of it, invest all of it, sow all of it back into the community of Atlanta.”
The funds were for anyone in Georgia’s DeKalb and Fulton counties, regardless of whether they attend New Birth or not. The church set up a Google Doc for applications, originally due by Nov. 17, but halted accepting them just two days after the broadcast because it received so many requests. Those contacting the church for aid now are urged to go to the local United Way.
Bryant said the giveaway is inspired by Pastor Howard John Wesley of Alford Street Baptist Church in Arlington, Virginia, who celebrated the Lord’s blessing his congregation during the coronavirus outbreak by sending money to those more affected by the disease.
The New Birth pastor took up an offering for this “365 Fall Vision Campaign” of pandemic aid last Sunday, putting in $3,650 himself. He asked those who could donate that much to match his gift. If they couldn’t, then he requested $365 and for all to try to donate at least $36.50.
“Here’s what I heard the Spirit of the living God telling me to tell you: that God has the power to undo an entire year and do it in a day,” he said.
The $365,000 figure also connects with Exodus 36:5, when the Hebrews were so generous in giving to His work that Moses had to tell them to stop donating, Bryant added.
“God woke me up early Sunday morning and said to me, ‘How can the area — DeKalb and Fulton counties — that saved the democracy from the despotic leadership of Donald Trump, how can they save the nation and lose their house? How can they save the democracy and be evicted from their apartment?” the Atlanta pastor explained. “God said, ‘There’s something wrong with that, something’s out of order.’ If Stacey Abrams had the wherewithal to pull together 800,000 new registered voters, we can do no less.”
Bryant also asked New Birth members to gather their old shoeboxes and fill them with “learning supplies, books and toys,” wrapping the packages in green paper for boys and red for girls. Putting his own children to work on the project, he said he told them to select items they would want themselves.
“We’re going to dispatch (them) to children all over the world who are being hit with a forcible blow of poverty and disadvantaged because of their economy,” he said, targeting 1,000 boxes to come in on Dec. 4-6.
Harkening back to the Nov. 3 election, Bryant praised African American females. “All of the sisters, … thank you for voting,” he said. “Thank you for lifting up your voice, thank you for not backing down, not cowering away, not being intimidated. Thank you so much. Black women, I honor you today.”
The influential black pastor urged the video’s viewers to vote in the Jan. 5 Georgia runoff election in which the Rev. Raphael Warnock, the Democratic candidate, will face incumbent U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler, the Republican candidate. While Warnock took 33% of the vote and Loeffler 26%, Republican candidates in the race outpolled Democrats by 1 percentage point.
The January election also might feature a runoff for the Senate seat held by incumbent Republican David Purdue, who beat Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff by nearly 2 percentage points but with just under 50% of the vote. That might change, however, with the hand recount ordered by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
“The special election is for the Senate,” Bryant told viewers, adding, “I’m praying daily for Jon Ossoff and my covenant brother and friend Rev. Raphael Warnock. I’m not telling you, it would be illegal for me to tell you who to vote for. I’m telling you who I’m praying for. … Power is getting ready to shift. God is going to use the church in this season, in this era, to change everything.”