Outsourced prayer lines confuse callers

1inside1.jpgDES MOINES — Last month, Lori Danes, 43, called the prayer line of a major television ministry and requested prayer for her mother’s persistent ulcers. But her prayer representative, who called himself “Darren,” prayed in a strong Indian accent that “all the gods would bless her mightily.”

“I was stunned,” Danes says. “It was like I’d called a demon prayer line.”

The manager of India Prayer Solutions, located in Mumbai, India, apologized for the incident and fired the employee who, he said, had not been properly trained. But dozens of similar incidents have rattled U.S. callers since major ministries began outsourcing their prayer lines to India. The ministries insist they are overwhelmed by the growing number of calls for prayer.

“There aren’t enough Americans willing to sit in the prayer tower and take calls anymore,” says a prayer coordinator at a major ministry which jobbed out its prayer lines last year.

But the interactions have left many callers baffled.

Rich Douglas of Orem, Utah, called a prayer line for the first time this month, requesting prayer for his wife’s cancer. His prayer partner, “Stephanie,” took him through a series of prayers that felt “pretty clinical,” says Douglas. “I definitely didn’t sense the Spirit. It sounded like she was reading from a script.”

“Stephanie,” whose real name is Reha Jain, is a Hindu woman who works at a call center in Mumbai and has prayed with “many satisfied prayer customers,” she says. “It’s like my old job at a Microsoft call center. The caller is happy if you deliver quality customer service.”

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