by Bethany Gill
I was given the opportunity to talk about Nurses Christian Fellowship during an orientation for new nursing students at Florida State University. I shared a 30-minute time slot with two leaders from other groups and one of them said, “You’re just going to invite them to your first meeting, right? I mean, we really don’t have much to say, do we?”
I actually didn’t know what I was going to say, but I didn’t want to just invite these new students to a meeting. I wanted to share with them the words the Lord had burned into my heart that week through Bible studies and prayer gatherings. During the summer, God had profoundly changed my heart and set me free. Through the prayers and input of many people, he has given me vision for a missional NCF group that is dependent on God and joyfully responds to where he leads.
After I introduced myself, I took a risk by praying out loud for the class, encouraging them to go to the Lord as their refuge when they are afraid or overwhelmed in nursing school. From that point on, I felt God take over; he took my nervousness and allowed me to speak clearly and effectively. Then I briefly explained about NCF and our local and national relationship with the ministry of InterVarsity.
I talked about the confusion and sadness that happens the first few weeks as students make sacrifices. This eventually shifts to pride, superiority or boasting about all of the hard realities of nursing school. I encouraged them to stay connected to a non-nursing community to guard against becoming isolated in the College of Nursing, and I suggested FSU’s InterVarsity community as a group that is understanding and empathetic toward nursing students.
Loving God, Loving Others
I shared with them my vision of an NCF community that is learning to love God and others and figuring out how nursing and Christianity go together. I argued that everyone in nursing (not just Christians) should examine the relationship between Christianity and nursing:
- The history of organized nursing comes directly from Jesus’ call on the first-century church to care for others.
- Caring for the spiritual health of patients is part of a nurses’ job description.
My message emphasized that Jesus is life-giving! I don’t want to just provide another meeting so they’re even more over-committed and stressed out. Our purpose in NCF is to seek after Jesus who offers joy, hope, peace, and power. If we seek after him, he can make us more efficient, better students; he promises peaceful sleep and less stress as we trust him. Jesus offers us life!
They learned that NCF is student-led. My commitment as a leader is to offer a quality group. I specifically asked the believers in the room to really trust the Lord enough to open up to him and ask how he might want them to serve while they are in nursing school. Last year we had potlucks, prayer meetings, Bible studies, and mission trips, but I can’t lead them all. There is potential for so much more, but we must all be involved in the mission.
When I finished, it was exactly the end of my allotted time! And when I sat down, the head of the nursing school came over and sincerely whispered, “Thank you.” This was an answer to my prayers the night before.
Old vs. New
As I left with my sign-up sheets, I had an old familiar feeling of dread and defeat about leading a large, disjointed, mediocre organization that is virtually Christian in name only, with prayers for food and the same culture as the nursing school.
Then the Lord said, “Don’t do that. Create an Acts 2 community within the nursing school that is devoted to me.” What relief! This vision is a much more exciting gift to the students and the nursing school.
I reflected on all God has done, including the inspiring, impromptu prayer gathering before the meeting with eight friends. We invited several incoming nursing students who were in the lobby early and they joined us. Afterwards my friend Amanda said, “That was awesome! It was as if God was there!” And he was there, pouring out his Spirit on our College of Nursing, bringing life and hope and peace.