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Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto Administrator/CEO James Huffman and Chaplain Steve Edmonds, Director of Pastoral Care, are shown in front of the new Prayer Cross, located near the hospital lobby in the Southaven facility. Patients, family and friends may place a prayer request on the cross, which will be collected and prayed over by the hospital chaplains.

It is said that “prayer changes things.” Christians fervently believe prayer can indeed do that as their direct means of communicating and expressing themselves to God.

At times when you or a loved one is hospitalized and facing medical issues, a time of solitude to pray and reach out to a higher power can do wonders.

If nothing else, it can offer the special time away to think, pray and reflect on what God gives all in peace, confidence and hope for the situation now and the eternal future.

Thursday morning, Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto dedicated a unique prayer cross, a wooden structure located in an area just off the main lobby of the Southaven hospital.

What makes the cross special is that as people come and pray and meditate at the cross, they will have the opportunity to write down their prayer requests and place it inside the cross.

Chaplains at the hospital will gather the prayer requests from the cross and there add their intercessions for people reaching out to God through that simple act.

“We feel like this cross will give people a place to come and meditate,” said Chaplain Steve Edmonds, Director of Pastoral Care at Baptist-DeSoto. “It will give people a place to come and think about what’s on their mind and heart and a place where they can put a prayer on the cross and perhaps have their burden lifted when they leave here. Perhaps, at least, that might be a beginning of something new in their life and perhaps they leave with hope for tomorrow.”

The prayer cross at Baptist-DeSoto is the eighth such structure installed at Baptist Memorial Health Care facilities.

When Mississippi Baptist Medical Center in Jackson merged with Baptist Memorial Health Care last year, a prayer cross made at Mississippi Baptist Medical Center’s cabinet shop was presented to the Baptist-Memphis facility. That has started the tradition that now has similar crosses located at facilities in Kosciusko, Carthage, Yazoo City, Oxford, and also in Jonesboro, Ark.

Donations from Baptist-DeSoto’s volunteers and pastoral care department funded the construction of the prayer cross.

“Mississippi Baptist Health System has a cabinet shop down there (in Jackson) where they make these crosses,” Edmonds said. “We had some funds that our volunteers had raised several months ago and when that account was closed, we were trying to figure out what to do with those funds. It was over $1,000, so that money along with a grant from the Baptist Memorial Hospital Pastoral Care Endowment Fund helped to provide this cross and for us to have one here.”

Edmonds added the prayer cross was done handmade, shipped to Southaven in pieces and assembled on site at the hospital.

It is a simple process for someone in the hospital to submit a prayer request.

“When they come to the cross, there will be brightly colored slips of paper here that they place in the cross and pens,” Edmonds said. “They will take a pen and write a prayer request on one of the little slips of paper. They will fold it and place it within one of the slots on the cross. As chaplains, we will come and we will pray here at the cross for the people that have left their prayers and we will continue to watch it become ablaze with color as people come and place their prayers on the cross.”

It is hoped the simple act of asking for prayer during life’s most trying times can lift a burden and give peace to a person needing peace in a most stressful time.

“Coming here, people’s lives are sometimes tossed upside down,” said Edmonds. “They don’t know where to turn, but when they turn and see the cross, there’s hope. They see hope, they see promise, they see strength and a refuge.”

Bob Bakken: sports@desototimestribune.com

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