Introducing the New NCF Director

July 18, 2016

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Meet the new director of Nurses Christian Fellowship!

Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, PhD, RN, didn’t plan on being a nurse until she worked in a hospital as a high school senior and was captivated by the life-giving power of the nurse-patient relationship.

“After I witnessed the intimacy of caring for people, I knew nursing was for me!” Kathy said. She earned a bachelor of science in nursing at UT Arlington and started caring for cancer patients. “I quickly realized the critical need to care for people spiritually, to be with them in their suffering, to help them reach out to God.”

Within a year of completing her BSN, God called Kathy to further education at Oral Roberts University. “The master’s program at ORU was outstanding. I learned whole person caring—body, mind, and spirit. I discovered theory and research. I heard Jesus’ call to excellence. I also was introduced to Nurses Christian Fellowship and NCF Bible studies. I discovered Jesus was the model nurse.”

After graduation, Kathy worked as a clinical nurse specialist and successfully led a cardiac rehabilitation department during the huge insurance changes of the 1980s.

Five years after completing her MSN, Kathy felt the tug to expand her research expertise and earned a PhD in Nursing from the University of Kansas. Kathy recalls, “The commute from Wichita to Kansas City was grueling, but I loved the deep critical thinking and learning how to build knowledge to provide better care for patients.”

As a doctoral student, Kathy was asked to serve at a national NCF conference as a Bible study leader and prayer minister. This connected Kathy with NCF nationally. Through the 1990s she volunteered with the NCF Central Plains leadership council where she assisted with continuing education conferences and supported NCF faculty advisors at nursing schools in the region. Through NCF, Kathy also began experiencing life-changing Bible study—and never stopped.

In 2002, Judy Shelly, then editor of the Journal of Christian Nursing, asked Kathy, “Have you ever considered being a journal editor?” Kathy remembers her response. “No, but God whispered to me from Numbers 13-14 to move forward and take the promised land; He would be with me.” She started helping with JCN and became editor in March 2004.

In 2005, Kathy helped NCF partner with publishing giant Wolters Kluwer Health / Lippincott Williams & Wilkins to publish JCN. This was a miraculous work of God that widened NCF’s influence. We now publish JCN in print, online, mobile, and iPad formats, and our biblically-based continuing education for nurses is online with one of the world’s largest CE providers.”

When Paul Tokunaga, Vice-President for InterVarsity’s Strategic Ministries, approached Kathy to consider becoming NCF director, God whispered again through Numbers 13-14. Even though his people may feel like grasshoppers, “If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land… and will give it to us” (Numbers 14:8).

Kathy says, “For NCF, that land is the college campus where there are nursing programs for almost 800 bachelor’s degrees and over 1200 associate degrees. That land is InterVarsity where we can help move the vision forward to see students and faculty transformed, campuses renewed, and world changers developed. That land is the over 3 million nurses in the U.S. who need Jesus. NCF is about bringing the Good News of Jesus to nursing, and helping students, educators, and nurses practice from a biblically-based Christian perspective.”

On July 1, 2016 Kathy became the national director of NCF and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Christian Nursing.

“I am excited about what God will do with and through NCF in the coming years,” Kathy said, “I don’t know all that will be needed to lead NCF, but I serve the One who holds all power and wealth and wisdom and strength. God will lead NCF.”

NCF Changed My Life

July 12, 2016

7122016patNurses Christian Fellowship has been an integral part of my life since nursing school when I was introduced to Jesus Christ and began to understand my need for a personal relationship with him.

That was nearly 45 years ago and my relationship to Jesus Christ has grown and flourished, largely due to the training and mentoring I received from NCF staff in the formative years of my walk with Christ.

I am grateful that evangelism and discipleship have always been two of the primary purposes of NCF and InterVarsity. I believe NCF has a dynamic role to play in our profession as we help nurses and nursing students know Jesus Christ personally and equip them to grow in their faith.

I am so pleased that Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner is the new director for NCF. She is the right person for such a time as this in NCF, and God will use Kathy to further his Kingdom-building work among nurses, students and educators.

Pat Emery Hixon, MSN, RN
NCF National Director, 2007-2009

Support NCF ministry with a donation so that more students and nurses will be influenced by the life-changing message of the gospel of Jesus.

NCFI World Congress Brings Shalom

July 11, 2016

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In June, 300 nurse leaders from 35 countries gathered in the Philippines for the 2016 World Congress of Nurses Christian Fellowship International. The theme focused on “Healthy Lives in a Broken World: A Christian Nursing Response.”

As Christian nurses, how do we respond to our broken world? What are our personal and professional responsibilities–and our limitations? How do we live the life God created for us– as healthy, holy, and joyful people?

Diverse speakers shared their vision and experiences of living healthy lives in a broken world. Nurses of all generations, as well as students, found opportunities for personal and professional inspiration, sharing, networking, and discussion.

Daily Bible exposition was presented by Rev. Dr. Paul Stevens who raised the question, “What is the good news of the kingdom of God?” He defined the good news as “the life-giving, shalom-bringing, transforming rule of God in people and all of life, including the world.”

Stevens used Luke 9:46-10:42 to present a picture of what it means to be a Christian. “It is traveling with Jesus in a new exodus journey on which we bring kingdom wholeness to people, places and all things,” he said. The participants explored three dimensions of the Kingdom and the implications for our work in the world:

  1. Being Kingdom Ministers: What does it mean to be followers of Jesus today?
  2. Having a Kingdom Heart: How does the ministry of Jesus relate to the nursing profession?
  3. Developing a Kingdom Spirituality: How can we practically thrive—not just survive—in the pressures of caring for people?

What is it like to be a kingdom minister? “It is challenging; it totally demands our all,” Paul Stevens concludes. “It is life-giving to ourselves and others, and it is supremely joyful.”

7toveThe joy overflowed as Tove Giske was introduced as the new president of Nurses Christian Fellowship International. Tove is a professor of nursing in Bergen, Norway. Also acknowledged was the visionary leadership of outgoing NCFI president Barbara White, Dean of Colorado Christian University School of Nursing.

New NCFI board members Carrie Dameron and Amy Rex Smith will join Linda Rieg and Kamalini Kumar from the USA as part of the NCFI board.

Download the presentations from all of the NCFI global speakers. The next NCFI World Congress will be held in Denver, Colorado in 2020.

We Are Set Apart!

July 7, 2016
Altar at Tel Beersheba

The altar at Tel Beersheba.
Photo courtesy
of Gordon Govier

A few days before I became National Director of Nurses Christian Fellowship, God challenged me to consecrate myself. I was participating in a commissioning service for campus ministers led by Tom Lin, InterVarsity’s new president, and I reflected on the importance God places on consecration.

When God brought the Israelites out of 430 years of slavery in Egypt, he told them to consecrate to him every firstborn male who opened the womb. As the Israelites prepared to enter the promised land some 40 years later, their new leader Joshua told the people: “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you” (Joshua 3:5, NIV). The people were to separate themselves to be holy, ready to do God’s work.

As nurses, we have consecrated our lives to promote, maintain, and restore health. It is a sacred calling to care for people in all aspects of life. Nurses Christian Fellowship is set apart by God to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to nursing and healthcare. Our calling to nursing students, educators, nurses—and their patients, brings the sacred gift of true life.

You are part of this sacred calling. Your membership tells the profession and the world that there are Christian nurses who stand for God, his Word, and his ways. In Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones coming to life, God proclaimed that Israel would once again become a great nation. God said, “Then the nations shall realize that I the Lord do set apart and consecrate Israel for holy use, when My sanctuary shall be in their midst forevermore” (Ezekiel 37:28, AMP). When we as Christian nurses consecrate ourselves for holy use, the world recognizes God in our midst. Imagine what a statement it would make for NCF to have 10,000, even 100,000 members caring in Christ’s name!

I pray for you as you consecrate yourself to God. NCF desires to support you in this sacred endeavor. Know that your membership, financial gifts, and prayers help NCF actively engage on the campus and professionally in our sacred calling. Like the Israelites, let’s continue to anticipate the amazing things God will do among us!

Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner became the national director of Nurses Christian Fellowship on July 1, 2016.

Church Attendance Really Helps!

July 7, 2016

772016churchNurses are in an excellent position to offer spiritual support to patients—and can do so with the backing of research connecting faith and health! A recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine reports that attending religious services can help you live longer.

In a study of 74,534 women from 1996-2012, religious service attendance was associated with lower risk of mortality from all-causes, including cardiovascular and cancer death. Attending >1 time weekly led to a 33% less chance of dying, once a week attendance decreased mortality by 26%, and even some attendance decreased mortality 13%. The effect of religious service attendance was stronger than that of any other form of participation in a social group.

A large European study also found that participation in religious organizations offers health benefits beyond those gained from other forms of social participation. Study authors conclude that religion and spirituality may be an “underappreciated resource” that physicians can explore with patients.

Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, PhD, RN
Director, Nurses Christian Fellowship/USA

My Work Christ’s Home

July 7, 2016

772016myheartchristshomeWhen I was a new Christian more than 24 years ago, a fellow believer gave me a booklet, My Heart Christ’s Home, written by Robert Boyd Munger in 1951. The story is about a new Christian with Christ in his heart who invites the Lord into all areas of his life through the metaphor of a home.

For example, when the new believer shows Christ the library and the recreational room, Christ points out the importance of inviting him into our reading materials and into our leisurely activities. Christians are often tempted to compartmentalize faith. We may keep a focus on Christ in our family and on Sundays, but we may be tempted to leave our faith out of our non-Christian relationships, television or movie choices, or our work environment.

As I reflected on the simple yet powerful truths found in this story, I thought of nursing. As Christian nurses we seek to live out Christ’s life and teachings in our clinics, schools, and hospitals. Christ doesn’t want to just come into the comfortable areas of our work and reside as a guest. Christ wants to dwell in every work relationship, every patient encounter, every project, class and meeting.

I encourage you to take time to allow Christ to walk through each area of nursing. Even if we consider ourselves mature a believer, I believe each of us will find a locked closet, a dusty cabinet, or even a hidden room that we have kept from God’s Spirit.

The good news is we can always repent: Robert Munger wrote, “I saw it in a minute and dropping to my knees, I said, ‘Lord, You have been a guest and I have been the host. From now on I am going to be the servant. You are going to be the owner and Master and Lord.'”

This reminds me of  the words of Jesus in John 14:23, “If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come into him, and make our abode with him.”

Let’s welcome Jesus to fully move into our work and into our hearts!

NCFI CARES

Carrie Dameron, MSN, RNBC, who is a regular contributor for Nurses Christian Fellowship International and Journal of Christian Nursing. She provides resources for Christian nursing on her blog http://blog.carriedameron.com/.

New Beginnings

June 9, 2016

Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner and Jane HallNCF and I are beginning a new way forward. On June 30 I complete my tenure as NCF Director and turn over the leadership of NCF to Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner.

As I end this season of my career as a nurse, educator and ministry leader, my heart fills with joy to think of the nursing students who are beginning their careers and trusting God for opportunities to give whole-person care with the compassion of Christ. Throughout their careers, they can take advantage of NCF membership and resources to continue Jesus’ transformational work in themselves and in nursing.

I love hearing from NCF staff like Krista Doan who saw one of her students noticeably changed by Jesus this year. Rachel’s love for Christ and commitment to Bible study and discipleship overflowed to others in the NCF chapter at the University of Central Florida.

Krista shared:

“In January, Rachel returned from the Urbana Missions Conference transformed by God’s Word through manuscript study in Matthew. Over the semester, Rachel led us in studying these same passages, and our small group deepened in community as we experienced Jesus through Matthew’s gospel. Everyone experienced transformation, and now we have new leaders for next year who will carry on the NCF legacy of the graduating seniors.”

I’m very thankful for Krista and other staff who help students and nurses to love God and his Word so that others will know him. God uses NCF to transform our views of nursing and our service to him.

NCF has been a gift to me. I have had countless opportunities to remind nurses that God uses us as instruments of his healing. We can be a “sweet aroma”, a fragrance of his care to those who are wounded, broken, and hurting. Nurses can carry encouragement, relief, and the message of Jesus’ healing love and grace to all.

Please continue to help NCF invest in more students and nurses who need gifted staff like Krista to point them to Jesus and to teach them how to give compassionate spiritual care from a Christian, biblical perspective.

Your special support before June 30 is crucial as we end our fiscal year and begin a new season of NCF ministry. Give a gift today to support NCF staff so that next year’s student leaders and nurses will experience God’s life-changing presence in their lives.

Thank you for giving me the privilege of leading NCF, and thank God for his faithfulness to us. I look forward to how I can continue to serve NCF in a volunteer role.

Jane Hall, MS, RN
Director, Nurses Christian Fellowship/USA

Changed Lives through NCF

June 9, 2016

BrookeI love this time of year when our graduating seniors realize that their nursing dreams are about to become a reality. They also see how God is creating new dreams for how they can serve him by caring for others as nurses.

Brooke is one of our senior chapter leaders for Nurses Christian Fellowship who recently shared her encouraging story with next year’s leaders at the University of Central Florida:

“As I graduate and look back on the past two years, I am so thankful that God gave me the NCF group. We have constantly seen just how amazing and great God is through his works. We saw a classmate come to know Christ, and we raised up future NCF leaders with a heart for God’s mission to spread his gospel.”

Brooke sums up why NCF invests in the spiritual development of nursing students:

“All in all, my experience with NCF has truly been life-changing, and I am so grateful that God called me to be a part of it!”

See why I love my job? I am thankful that God has called me to be on staff with InterVarsity/NCF so I can be a part of how God is transforming students like Brooke. As her staff mentor, I have seen how Brooke has grown and matured in her leadership and discipleship capabilities. Now Brooke begins her nursing practice equipped to follow Jesus with joy and devotion.

Praise God for the new beginnings nursing students experience through life in Christ!

Kristaby Krista Doan
InterVarsity/NCF staff @ UCF

Please join Krista’s ministry team by partnering with her in prayer and financial support so she can invest in the spiritual development of more students like Brooke.

Spiritual Care of Veterans

May 28, 2016

5282016memorialdayOn Memorial Day we remember our fallen soldiers who sacrificed their lives for our country. As nurses, what can we do to care for veterans who need ongoing physical, emotional and spiritual care today?

Over a million veterans seek mental healthcare through the Veterans Administration (VHA) every year. Many voice challenges to their spiritual beliefs, especially after deployment. Research supports that integrating spiritual care into mental health interventions improves the ability of veterans to cope.

Mental health practitioners are key to incorporating spirituality into the mental healthcare of veterans, as well as collaborating with VHA chaplains. They are in prime positions to address spiritual needs, such as the need for hope, love and belonging, forgiveness, life purpose and meaning.

“Through spiritual care, mental health practitioners have the opportunity to remind veterans of the omnipotent God, who is the protector and rescuer,” writes Stephanie T. Wynn in her article, “After the Trenches: Spiritual Care of Veterans,” from Journal of Christian Nursing, Oct-Dec 2015.

“During the battle, God is always with us. God wants to be our liberator, whether we are in or out of the trenches,” Stephanie adds. “And he wants to use healthcare providers to spiritually assist those caught in the trenches to rediscover meaning and purpose in life.”

As we remember those in the military who have died, let us care holistically for those who are living.

Read more of Stephanie Wynn’s article in JCN.

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This article in Journal of Christian Nursing was recently honored with a GOLD Award for Best Opening Page or Spread: Photo, presented by the American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors (ASHPE).

Childlike Prayers

May 16, 2016

5162016lewisprayerChildren can be so refreshing, open and honest! In Children’s Letters to God, a collection of children’s prayers reveals their beliefs, desires, questions, and doubts. And despite the misspelled words and grammatical mistakes, they all express hope and trust. In just a few words, one boy let God know about his feelings and what he wanted…

Dear God, I wrote you before do you remeber? Well I did what I promised. But you did not send me the horse yet. What about it?  Lewis

Lewis prayed in faith, believing and trusting that God heard his prayer. Matthew 21:22 tells us, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” We are to pray in faith, even though God’s answer may not be exactly what we asked for!

And like Lewis’ prayer, our prayers do not need correct spelling and grammar. In fact, we do not even have to express our prayers with clarity. Sometimes we can’t even find the words to express our heartfelt needs to the Lord. But we can trust that God knows what we need, what is best for us, and he just wants us to come to him.

And when we come, we can know that the Holy Spirit speaks to God for us, constantly interceding for us. And if that were not enough, we have an intercessor in heaven—Jesus!

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27

Because God knows our hearts, he knows what is best for us. But he also wants us to come to him with a pure heart. When we first acknowledge that we need Jesus’ saving grace, and we trust in his death and resurrection as payment for our sin, Christ declares that we are righteous and eternally saved.

However, in our humanness, we STILL SIN, and this sin interferes with our fellowship with Christ. We need to be honest with ourselves about our shortcomings, confess them to God and perhaps to others, if we want to enjoy intimacy with Christ.

Personal holiness is a condition of prayer throughout the Bible. James tells us that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16b). The apostle John wrote that we receive from God anything we ask because “we keep his commands and do what pleases him” (1 John 3:22). And, thankfully, the psalmist reminds us that “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry” (Psalm 34:15).

God will hear and respond to our prayers of praise and petition when we ASK in Christ’s name, ASK in abiding faith, ASK in the Spirit, and ASK from a pure heart!

–by Jane Hall, NCF National Director


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