A Movement in America: Growing this movement is the key to fulfilling our mission
March 1st, 2012 by Steve Noblett
There is a move of God in America. Christians in healthcare by the thousands are taking steps to follow Christ’s example and teaching by using their skills, gifts and positions of privilege to care for the poor. Students and residents are making hard decisions that will enable them to serve the marginalized. For most of them, it means personal sacrifice of prestige, position, and personal security.
And yet the numbers are growing every year. This is the movement for which members of the CCHF community have prayed and hoped for decades.
The role of CCHF is to support this movement. If some of us don’t work to keep the call in front of Christians in healthcare, if we don’t listen to those who are doing the work to find out where they need encouragement, and if we don’t provide a platform for the members of this movement to find one another and share with one another, then it will fizzle. That would be tragic. Not because we want to be part of something big and popular. It would be tragic because the scores of millions of poor people in our nation need this movement.
As I travel to visit clinics and meet with Christian health workers all over the country, I am challenging them to help grow and support this movement. It is easy to become so engrossed in the needs of those we serve, that we ignore the greater thing that God is doing in our time. The answer to the overwhelming need that you see every day is not for you to work harder and longer. The answer is to train, encourage, and challenge more brothers and sisters in Christ to answer the call that you did. If we truly care about those who are suffering, we need to give attention to supporting and growing this movement.
I want to suggest 4 things that you can do to help support and grow this movement.
- Tell your story. You should be telling others what you do and what you see every day. Tell your pastor. As a former pastor, I can tell you that very few pastors understand what you do or how it fits in the mission of the church. And they won’t get it unless we tell them. Tell your story to students. Find a Christian campus group – there is one on virtually every campus in America. And they love having someone who is doing the work talk to them about what it means to serve Jesus with your career by caring for the poor. Tell your story until you get good at it. No one is going to tell your story better than you. God gave you this story. Use it.
- Train students and residents. I already hear some of you groaning…”students take too much time…they slow me down…I don’t have time…I have too many patients...” I want to remind you that you are the provider you are today because someone took the time to precept you. Don’t commit to train just anyone. Look for students who want to learn how to integrate faith with practice, and who are open to using their careers to work with the medically underserved. The biggest single choke point that I see in this movement is the lack of Christian providers willing to train students who are seriously trying to figure out how to be a part of this great work. Remember, the answer to the sea of need we wade in every day is not more of your time. It is more providers like you. They don’t come that way. We have to disciple them.
- Keep pushing the boundaries of “faith-driven” healthcare. CCHF started when a handful of pioneers in the 70s began to ask if there was a difference between being a doc who was a Christian, and practicing Christian medicine. Frankly, the clinics that followed in the footsteps of those earliest pioneers have asked sharper questions and did a better job of building viable and sustainable ministries than their predecessors. Today we are seeing new ways of caring: community engagement, lay health promoters, integrated behavioral health, integrated spiritual care. All of these areas need further development as models of faith. 30 years into this, we still aren’t sure how to maintain a “Christian environment” when our clinics become big. Provider care, compassion fatigue – all of these are challenges and opportunities for us to discuss and explore. At every step we should be asking, “How is God calling us to respond in a way that reflects His kingdom.”
- Engage in this community. Be a part of the CCHF community. It is great that you are visiting this site, reading this blog. But you can help grow this movement if you will come to an event. Attend the annual conference (which will change your life!). Visit a clinic in our Directory of Christian Clinics. Connect with people who are doing what you do in other parts of the country. Those who engage in the community stay in longer, feel more productive, and find themselves growing deeper in their understanding and convictions. We were not created to be lone rangers. We are to be a living part of a body. Being part of this community will never take the place of your local church, but it will bear similar fruit – not only in your life, but in the lives of those with whom you connect.
Use this website as an opportunity to share your call, your dreams and gifts, your experiences with us. Use it to find others who are doing what you do. Connect with them, and ask them to share their experiences with you. If you have trouble finding people, send us a note at info [at] CCHFmail [dot] org. We will help you grow and support this movement. Ultimately we all want the same things: for Christ to be lifted up, for us as His body to be better connected to the poor, and for those who suffer the most to know that God cares for them.