Growing a Compassionate Heart

God calls us to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8), but what does this look like for marginalized people in health care? Nurses and students gathered in Minnesota to explore how to represent Jesus Christ with a growing heart of compassion for the underserved in their communities.

The NCF group in the Twin Cities hosted 35 nurses and students for a soup supper and informative discussion led by Leya Didur, Twin Cities Urban Program Director for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. The NCF seminar provided 1 CE credit.

Leya shared her vision for her work training students in cross-cultural urban experiences: “Throughout the Bible, from beginning to end, it is impossible not to see the theme of God calling his people to be concerned and care for the marginalized. Ultimately God wants to see all his children thrive and, as Christ’s followers, we can be active participants to bring about that thriving.”

Table groups first discussed the question, “What patients are marginalized in your work?” Then they explored barriers to providing quality care for marginalized individuals or communities.

A core component of the seminar looked at how Jesus had compassion on the people he met. Leya provided questions to ask when reading stories about Jesus engaging with people at the margins.

* How is this person marginalized in their community?

* What barriers does Jesus have to overcome or address to care for this person?

* How does Jesus provide compassionate holistic care for this person?

* How do others respond in this story?

The challenging question for nurses is how to grow in compassion and make an intentional effort to change. “It is critical to be honest with your starting point and the barriers you have,” Leya reminded the participants.

“We talked about the importance of receiving the love of Jesus for ourselves and taking care of ourselves,” said Mary Thompson, former director of Nurses Christian Fellowship. “This is at the heart of growing in compassion for others.”

Finally, Leya challenged nurses and nursing students to develop a plan for practical ways to grow in compassion and understanding for marginalized people. She suggested watching movies or reading books from a different perspective, or visiting a church of a different ethnicity or culture. The key factor is developing authentic relationships with others and loving them in Christ.

Mary Thompson is grateful to God for NCF ministry in the Twin Cities, MN, and for this new partnership with Leya as InterVarsity staff. “Through Leya’s excellent presentation, we are encouraged by the opportunities before us as followers of Jesus—in healthcare and in the community.”

As these nurses and students return to their daily lives, they take with them this reminder about the God they serve in nursing, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8). It’s a good word.

2 Responses to “Growing a Compassionate Heart”

  1. Pam Price-Hoskins Says:

    The needs are enormous, overwhelming. There but for the grace of God go I. Therefore, it’s even more important that I bless others because God has blessed me to bless them. Which one is God calling me to today?

  2. shauna Says:

    As an RN with many years of varied experience, it has been difficult for me to see how hard our communities have been hit by loss of corporations and jobs, taking with them benefits that helped cover healthcare expenses. I especially am struggling with how many people come back into the hospital because they cannot afford medications, or don’t understand the importance of the medicines they are supposed to be taking. Then there is the huge lack of resources for our mentally ill, both for outpatient or inpatient care. The government has destroyed the already fragile state of care for the mentally ill, and community resources are being overstretched. It is a horrible helpless feeling to see how many folks are held in our emergency rooms waiting for placement in a facility because they are not stable enough to go home, or can’t get outpatient care at all. I can see where the needs are, but there seems to be too little help for those needs.
    Kudos to these folks in Minnesota for responding to the call to care. I pray that they are able to join forces with those who can help reach the marginalized population.

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