Mel Sparks is a man on a mission to “spray it forward.” His assignment: help Oklahoma Baptists in their continuing battle against COVID-19 by using a disinfecting sprayer on churches who have experienced exposure to the virus.
When the outbreak of the Coronavirus hit the state, Oklahoma Baptists invested Cooperative Program resources into purchasing sanitizing equipment in an effort to help churches stay open. Sparks, who has served as a volunteer with Oklahoma Baptists Disaster Relief for 14 years, has been on call since April to travel all over the state using the sprayer to treat churches in need of disinfection. Since then, more than 20 churches have invited Sparks to come use the sprayer in their facilities—some more than once.
The device Sparks uses is an electrostatic sanitizing machine that gives an anti-viral chemical from the sprayer tank a static charge that causes it to cling to surfaces, killing all types of viruses within 10 minutes. The mist is very fine, is dry to the touch and can be applied even with people in the room.
“We had a visitor come to our congregation who called us on Monday after they were here on Sunday, and they told us they had gotten checked for COVID and tested positive,” said Aaron Reed, pastor of Antlers, First. “We decided the best thing to do to ease people’s minds was to disinfect the building. It just so happened that James Swain (Oklahoma Baptists’ associate executive director and church relations group leader) was in our area and had stopped by my office to visit with me. He heard our conversation and shared with me that we had the opportunity to have Mel Sparks come down to spray our building.”
Reed said the sanitizing process eased the minds of church members. He invited Sparks a second time because another person announced they had been exposed to the virus. This disinfectant ministry helps protect people who seek in-person cooperate worship during the pandemic, and Sparks is happy to serve in this unique capacity.
“He was so kind and helpful and concerned,” Reed said about Sparks. “He told me while he was here, ‘I want to do this because I love to help people, and I want to give them peace of mind, and this is one way I can help.’ We would not have been able to afford to purchase a machine like that. It has been huge for our church. We probably would have had to shut down on those Sundays otherwise.”
Sparks reported that some churches that have used the spraying service have had multiple cases of COVID within their congregation and needed to be sure the virus could be removed from their facilities.
“I am happy to serve our churches,” Sparks said, “but I do want to encourage our congregations to practice social distancing and to use masks to help protect church members from the spread of the virus. I have enjoyed the opportunity to help and have enjoyed meeting the pastors and seeing how the churches operate.”
For information about disinfecting your church, contact Alan Quigley, Oklahoma Baptists associate executive director of church resources group, at 405/942-3800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.