PRAYER & A Student’s Story About How Facebook Sharing When Wrong

by Bob Whitesel, 6/1/15.

In a previous article (titled: PRAYER & Guidelines for Keeping it Effective & Confidential) I shared guidelines to protecting privacy in this day of burgeoning social media.

Below is a poignant story from a student about sharing prayer requests confidentially in the new age of burgeoning social media.  Below is what he said and the lesson he wanted to share.

“Earlier this summer a lady in our church found out she had a brain tumor.  I remember the day we found out; everyone was devastated about the diagnosis.  She had a friend that had went to the hospital with her call me to tell me what was going on and asked that I come to the hospital.  When I got there she asked that I put a prayer request about her tumor, (she was ok with telling reasonable details of her condition).

We use an automated system to relay prayer requests via recorded phone call.  To my dismay this system was down, and this lady needed prayer.  I tried several more times over the next couple of hours to get this message out, but the recording system was down and it had been a long time already we really needed to get people praying.

My wife called and asked if she thought we could put the request out over FaceBook because she had started to call people individually and she is just not good at delivering news like this and handling the broken-hearted reactions of the people on the other end of the phone.  Since this lady had told us to release certain details of her condition and we have quite a few prayer-chain members who are on my wife’s FB as friends and likely no one else would know who this lady was by just her first name my wife put out a prayer request on FB.

Though the lady who had the tumor was not upset her daughter-in-law was because she was afraid her children would see get this info before she could talk to them about it.

To make a long story short this is one leadership mistake I will never make again.

Finally, I think it is prudent not only to talk with the person the request is about but also to the family before any info is released, because even if the prayer call had gone out her children may have retrieved the message from their answering machine before she could talk to them.  Bottom-line…yours is a good policy (for) GOD knows the details.”