| 11.4°C Belfast

Coronavirus: Recovering Northern Ireland pastor Mark McClurg now on new mission to help others through prayer

Close

Encouragement: Mark McClurg

Encouragement: Mark McClurg

Encouragement: Mark McClurg

Pastor Mark McClurg is on a new mission now ­­- one of gratitude and hope.

Every night this week, the evangelical cleric will be holding a live online prayer session for the frontline doctors and nurses of the NHS, some of whom saved his life last week.

Mr McClurg believes his terrifying story which, thankfully, had a happy ending, has helped get the mortal danger of coronavirus across to those who need to hear it most. Consequently, the media are also in his thoughts.

Now, however, the Covid-19 survivor has become a medium himself.

His live Facebook broadcast, during which he begged "the Lord to heal our land of coronavirus", began on Monday evening at 7.14pm - with the precise timing inspired by the Bible (2 Chronicles 7:14).

"I want to send out a message of hope, encouragement and thanks," he said.

"And I wanted to offer up prayers for the NHS, the doctors and nurses on the frontline, as well as other key workers including retail staff, for providing us with food, and pharmacies for ensuring we have medicine.

"I also prayed for teachers because they're allowing NHS staff to go to work, and for the media for getting vital news about this virus out to the public.

I want to unite Northern Ireland with a message of hope

"Equally, I prayed for those who are self-isolating because they are on their own.

"It's based on this verse from the Bible: 'If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land'."

Pastor McClurg, who preaches at the Elim Church in Newtownards, where he lives with his family, said he intends to have a prayer broadcast all week.

"Every night on Facebook I'll be praying and anyone who wants to can join in," he said.

"I want to unite Northern Ireland with a message of hope."

But the father-of-three is not technically 'working at home'.

Since he left hospital, after a 14-day period during which he was critically ill, he has been self-isolating from his family at a friend's house to protect his 42-year-old wife and their three children - Lilianna (5) and twin boys Josiah and Judah (2).

"Claire and I made the difficult decision that I would stay away for seven days," he said.

I am an answer to a prayer. I'm alive and I'm one of the blessed ones

"You can't tell children they can't hug their daddy and expect them to understand so this was the best thing to do."

Glengormley native Mark fell ill suddenly without displaying any of the symptoms normally associated with coronavirus.

When it took hold, however, it quickly sapped his strength, rendering him unable to breathe and fearing for his life.

On Monday, he said he was grateful to be on the mend, adding that his survival was down to the excellent healthcare workers at the Ulster Hospital.

"I'm really happy that I'm home from ICU," he said.

"A couple of times I was convinced that I would never be well enough to leave hospital.

"I am an answer to a prayer. I'm alive and I'm one of the blessed ones.

"Some people who get coronavirus have mild symptoms - like a cough, headache and pains - but I was critical. I couldn't breathe. I thought I was going to die a couple of times.

"I understand why people with underlying health conditions may struggle more with this disease.

"I'm 6ft 4" tall, a big, strong, fit and healthy strapping man who doesn't drink or smoke and I ended up in ICU because it was difficult for me to breathe."

Pastor Mark revealed that doctors and nurses from all over the UK have been in touch with him privately in recent days.

"They have been privately contacting me to thank me for reinforcing the message about social distancing and also for the gratitude and recognition I've given them for the work they've been doing for me and all the other coronavirus patients," he said.

"People in the Ulster Hospital have been in touch to say they looked after me while I was in the ward and I've been able to thank them personally for saving my life. They are my heroes."

Belfast Telegraph