Archive for the ‘Local Mission’ Category

Minding the Gap

July 24, 2017

Faith Community Nurses (FCNs), or Parish Nurses, are meeting growing needs in healthcare.

Recently a Lutheran church in Stoughton, Wisconsin, celebrated the five-year anniversary of their Parish Nurse Ministry. They had identified a gap in care that affected many in their congregation. Sue, a church member who is a nurse, developed the role of Parish Nurse to ease this disparity.

Parish nursing epitomizes the love described in John 15:12 through serving and engaging others in the ministries of health, help and healing based in love. Caring for one’s own health is a matter of human necessity and good stewardship. Caring for the health of others expresses both love for our neighbor and responsibility for a just society. As a personal and social responsibility, health care is a shared endeavor.

Affectionately, Sue defines parish nursing for her church as “minding the gap” by helping people who fall within a gap when needs are unmet—whether it is lack of access to needed aid or the inability to identify basic needs and services.

Sue believes that a sense of community is the heart and soul of parish nursing. Combining her nurse and life experiences, Sue connects the need of the parishioner with needed resources. This may be physical (accompanying clients and advocating for them in the clinical setting), mental (attending to the isolated and transitionally challenged), or spiritual (listening to the Holy Spirit and connecting with pastoral support). There is balance that is brought to the care and attention of all three of these areas. If one area is lacking, eventually the balance is thrown off. It is the restoration of this balance that a parish nurse can assist individuals in obtaining. This process of restoration is a journey.

One memorable experience came when Sue met a local man who had lost an arm in an accident years earlier and needed to administer eye drops three times per day. This posed a challenge for him. Sue began stopping by to dispense the medication, but then engaged others within the community who wanted to help. It was heartwarming to see local people from different backgrounds, faith communities, and work responsibilities come together to lend aid.

As a parish nurse, Sue’s most rewarding effort has come through the healing that occurs during the “Longest Night” service. Held just before Christmas on the Winter Solstice (shortest day of the year), this church service focuses on welcoming anyone in the community who is grieving any type of loss, such as loss of a loved one, a job, or a health condition. Through this ecumenical service, people with painful losses are supported and their pain is acknowledged.

Keeping healthy boundaries both for the parish nurse and those in need can be challenging, yet necessary. “It’s important to know when a request is simply too great to fulfill,” Sue said. “Knowing when to help rather than when to refer someone elsewhere is difficult but still serves a vital need of education and communication. It’s tempting to want to be able to help everyone; however, that is simply not possible. The key is to connect the individual to local resources if they don’t know about them.”

What are the needs in your faith community that concern you as a nurse? Is God nudging you, like Sue, to do something about it?

Read more articles about Faith Community/Parish Nursing and get CE credits from Journal of Christian Nursing.

Growing a Compassionate Heart

March 24, 2017

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.

A Visitation Program for Seniors

September 12, 2016

9122016waitingMaking homebound visits is an important part of the ministry of the church, especially for older seniors who are vulnerable to isolation and poor quality of life. Yet too often they are neglected and left longing for visitors.

Julia Quiring Emblen, PhD, RN, was troubled by the lonely seniors she visited in her church. “Some told me the church community had all but forgotten about them,” she writes in her article, “A Compassionate Visitation Program for Church Homebound Elders” from Journal of Christian Nursing.

Many of the elders Julia visited had been leaders of the church for years. “Recalling how much service these former spiritual pillars had given to the congregation, I felt sad that now, when they were in need, they received so little,” Julia said. She was determined to improve the care of the homebound elders in her church.

Realizing that older seniors need support, a Compassionate Visitation Program was initiated. Most of the volunteers were in their 60s or 70s. It soon became apparent that more emphasis was needed on making the visit experience enjoyable for recipients and satisfying to the visitors.

The program developed general focus points using the acrostic HOMEBOUND to help visitors remember to incorporate Humor, Observation, Music, Encouragement, etc. Parts of the program include an awareness of Nutritional issues and even the Death of the visitee.

Active listening is a nursing skill that can be taught to visitors who can listen to a person’s stories about the past and concerns about the future. Allowing them to share their pain validates their experience and helps decrease the loneliness of chronic pain. Visitors can learn to be present, listen to the visitees, help them process their feelings, and explore healthy responses.

Over time, guidelines and a structure for the Compassionate Visitation Program were developed with a Visit Facilitator coordinating the program for the church.

A friendly visit can encourage and lighten some of the lonely hours for those who have little to do during their long days. “It takes time and planning on the part of the visitor,” Julia concludes, “but the time pays off when the visitor is leaving and hears, ‘Come back soon! I really enjoy our time together.’”

Are there homebound seniors in your church who are longing for visitors? Read the full JCN article for more tips and program ideas.


This JCN article offers 2.5 CE contact hours. Become a member of Nurses Christian Fellowship and receive JCN regularly as a member benefit, as well as discounts on all CE.

NCF Stress-Busters of South Florida

February 24, 2015

Stress BustersA year ago, Monica Orozco-Cantillo, R.N., had a big vision for the new NCF group of nurses in South Florida. Their first event, hosted at Monica’s church, was a “First Responder” weekend in partnership with firefighters, nurses and other healthcare professionals. It was a huge success.

“We had over 50 nurses inquire about NCF and want to tap in!” Monica said. “We met all sorts of nurses: retired, disabled, new and burned out. We want to give them the resources and encouragement they need.”

Next they planned their first “Stress Buster” event with nurses from all over Dade County. The message focused on Christ-centered nursing care. They sponsored a raffle with prizes and an Arts ministry team enhanced the evening with a therapeutic exercise, beautiful poetry and art work.

In the fall, the group planned the “Harvest Stress Buster” to celebrate local nurses and medical personnel. “Our guest speaker, Eric Steman, spoke life into our hearts,” one participant said. “He reminded us of our strengths, value and courage within all of us.”

Another person said, “Our speaker was a rich source of positivity and love for our nurses.” Many people worked on making this a special event with food, prizes, donated flower arrangements and more.

When planning Stress Buster events, the NCF group often partners with the Blue Line Angels, a ministry for family members and spouses of police officers, because many of them are nurses.

The NCF group had a strong start to 2015 by hosting a Stress-Buster event, “How Sweet Forgiveness Is,” with a guest speaker and entertaining games as part of the program. In addition to door prizes and sweet surprises, the event included worship and childcare so that family, friends and coworkers could come as well.

Monica is very thankful for her team of co-chairs and their dedication and involvement in putting the events together: Michelle, Carmen, Sasha, Jacqueline, Margarita and Simone.

Many lives have been touched by God through the efforts of NCF in South Florida. Monica’s prayers for the group cover it all, “We pray for you to continue to be good stewards of your skill sets and be vessels for God’s glory!”

And so they are!

NCF Nebraska Promotes Healthy Clergy Week

October 16, 2014

Clergy WeekIt’s Healthy Clergy Week in Nebraska, thanks to the efforts of Nurses Christian Fellowship of Nebraska.

The NCF nurse chapter in Omaha submitted a proclamation request to the governor of Nebraska to proclaim Healthy Clergy Week for October 12-17, 2014. They are encouraging all nurses and health care professionals in their state to do something special for their clergy that improves their overall health and well-being. As clergy take small steps toward better health, they become positive role models for their congregations.

At Saint Columbkille Catholic Church in Papillion NE, priests were given a gym bag, ear buds, iTunes card, and information/educational material on how to stay healthy. They also received a memory foam pillow because good sleep is essential to health. One priest even received a Fitbit activity tracker! All these items were donated by the parish nurse team.

The NCF Nebraska chapter reached out to the Faith Community Nursing Network in their community and now they have partnered together to reach out to over 400 churches in the Omaha/Metro area to see what needs they have for improving health in their clergy and congregations. Once the NCF chapter identifies the needs of the clergy and their congregations, they plan to apply for grants to fund the costs associated with their project.

The idea came from an article published in the Journal of Christian Nursing (article free for a limited time). The group hosted a continuing education journal club review to discuss the article, “Health Report for U.S. Seminary Schools: Are We Training Healthy Clergy?”

The NCF of Nebraska chapter hosts monthly meetings and quarterly accredited continuing educational programs which are highly valued by their members and the community.

You can partner with NCF of Nebraska by praying for the health of your clergy this week and considering how to make Healthy Clergy Week a year-round event in your area.

Witnessing What God is Doing

September 4, 2014

Jane HallI am so privileged to witness what God is doing among nurses and nursing students through NCF ministry! God is providing growing opportunities to develop strong disciples who will care for others with the compassion of Christ.

Will you partner with NCF by giving to the NCF Growth Fund? Your prayers and financial support are critical for our investment in young leaders in nursing.

We know that so much can happen in a school year. Last year, students and faculty in 93 NCF campus chapters found answers to their questions and balm for their souls as they explored God’s Word together. Nurses met around the country to make Jesus known in nursing. God did this — and so much more!

And now we are looking ahead and asking what will God do this year?

We aren’t sure, but we are full of faith and anticipation for how our powerful God will work through NCF this coming year, as he has done faithfully for the past 66 years.

Students and nurses who come to NCF find authentic community and hope for their journey. They explore answers to their questions about suffering, death, faith, and how they all fit together. Most of all, they find that a deeper relationship with Jesus makes all the difference in how they live out their calling in God’s great Kingdom.

As we enter into a new season of ministry, will you pray that our great God will provide staff who can build communities of students and faculty to participate in God’s global mission?

And please consider a donation to the NCF Growth Fund to advance God’s work of transformation in nursing. Thank you for your partnership!

–by Jane Hall, NCF Director

Pray for NCF – here are some specific ways.

A New Season for Renee Lick

August 28, 2014

ReneePlease join our NCF staff team in saying thank you to Renee Lick, NCF Student Ministries Director. God has called Renee to leave her position with NCF at the end of August. She will continue ministering to students and faculty through another position with InterVarsity’s Graduate and Faculty ministry in Chicago. We are very grateful for Renee’s rich contributions to NCF over the past ten years.

Renee served four years on campus at University of Illinois-Chicago where she equipped students to lead the NCF chapter and prepared them to follow Jesus in nursing. Some of these graduates are now serving God in graduate school, as Advanced Practice Nurses, among Native American communities in Alaska, and in hospitals and clinics all across the country. Renee enjoyed teaching these students about holistic care and how to care for the spiritual needs of their patients.

For the past six years, Renee has served as NCF Student Ministries Director. Renee has enriched NCF with a vision to grow witnessing communities of students and faculty who follow Jesus in schools of nursing. She has enabled staff, students, and faculty to see great opportunities for NCF ministry on campus.

Renee’s vision is to see students following Jesus with their whole lives, including in their lives as nurses. She partnered with our InterVarsity colleagues to reach more nursing students on campus and recruited new campus staff and volunteers. We thank God that the number of nursing students involved in ministry on campus has increased by 13% over the past 5 years.

Renee has engaged with students and faculty on many campuses through retreats, seminars and the Urbana Student Mission Conferences. Renee co-led student mission trips (Global Projects) to Kenya and Uganda. She also co-led a transcultural immersion experience for nurses following the NCF International conference in Nigeria.

We know that God will use Renee’s gifts and talents to further his Kingdom work! Please pray for Renee in the transitions ahead and for her marriage to Trevor in October.

–Jane Hall, NCF Director

Delaware Nurse Chapter Gives Back

July 11, 2014

NCF DelawareThe members of the Delaware Nurses Christian Fellowship nurse chapter had a busy year, hosting several events to support local outreach ministries and raising scholarship funds for their first Christian Nursing Grant for a nursing student.

“As Christian nurses, we strive to contribute to the advancement of nursing by encouraging and incorporating our Christian beliefs into all aspects of our profession and practice,” said Lisa Rossi, a leader of the NCF group.

The eight Delaware nursing students who applied for the grant were evaluated by the scholarship committee on the criteria of financial need, faith-based activities, and a short essay on how the student will apply Christian principles to nursing practice.

Paige Merring was this year’s recipient. Paige is a nursing student in the University of Delaware’s accelerated nursing program. This is her second degree. Paige is very active in her church and has been involved with many community outreach projects. She helped start a health ministry at her church, including monthly blood pressure screening for church members.

Paige states, “I plan to live out God’s plan for my life by maintaining a positive and uplifting attitude so that if my patients are experiencing one of the worst days of their lives, they can see God’s love for them and know that there are good people in this world that care for them.”

As part of National Nurses Week, the NCF group members gathered for a celebration lunch. Paige and her husband attended and graciously accepted the scholarship grant for $500 which she plans to use toward her student loans.

The NCF group meets on the third Saturday of the month at 10:00am. They welcome all nurses, nursing students, or other healthcare providers who want to join in the mission. For more information, contact

Learn more about local nurse ministry or find an NCF Nurses group in your area.

Crisis in Kiev to Kindness in Kansas

May 19, 2014

It's a GirlThe conflict in Ukraine is close to the heart of the NCF students at Newman University in Wichita, Kansas. A touching front-page news story in The Wichita Eagle explains how the nursing students sprang into action for a woman from Kiev who was pregnant, scared, and in desperate circumstances.

The newspaper article reports,Ukraine native experiences what she already knew: Americans are good.” The story describes how one student in the Newman nursing school, Anastasiya Inchekel, went to the NCF group to ask them to pray for her twin sister who was pregnant and had just arrived from Ukraine to give birth to her baby in safety. Her sister had no prenatal care, no baby supplies, no money, and she was very anxious about her husband being drafted into the army to fight the Russians if war breaks out.

As the Newman NCF group heard about the needs of this family, they immediately sprang into action. First, the students and faculty surrounded the family in prayer, laying hands on Anastasiya when she shared her heart at the NCF meeting. Next they arranged for free prenatal care and maternal services at a local hospital. The local Pregnancy Crisis Center, a Christian ministry, was instrumental in helping to arrange the care.

When the NCF students realized the family had nothing, they hosted a baby shower and provided baby clothes, diapers, wipes, toys, shoes, a crib, and much more. The baby is due May 29, and the NCF students are committed to ongoing prayer and support for the family.

Amy Siple is the NCF faculty advisor and a professor of nursing at Newman who was first aware of Anastasiya’s concern for her sister. She is proud of how the nursing students rose up to serve the needs of those around them.

NCF staff Kathy Schoonover Shoffner said, “These students are learning to put their Christian faith into practice through the art of nursing.”

From Wichita to Kiev – with love!

Read the full news article.

Jesus in the Clinic

December 12, 2013

HeatherAs a nurse in urban health, Heather Cutillo, R.N., lives out God’s love in tangible ways through her work in clinics that serve the homeless, the uninsured, and the afflicted in the inner city. Years ago, she responded to God’s calling as she saw how urban health centers can be a support network for those without one. Heather sees her work as an opportunity to model Jesus’ incarnational love.

The work is often discouraging, but Heather’s antidote for burnout comes from a supportive faith community and the spiritual strength she receives from daily time with God. She first learned about the importance of having a daily quiet time in Scripture and prayer in nursing school as a member of Nurses Christian Fellowship. “I really appreciate the emphasis on discipleship and developing my relationship with God that I got from NCF.”

Heather has a global influence as she helps manage the online ministry of Nurses Christian Fellowship International (NCFI).  She regularly communicates with nurses all over the world who request information about NCFI ministry.

Read more of Heather’s calling and passion for urban health ministry in the InterVarsity news article, “Jesus in the Clinic.”