Editor’s Note: Donovan and I have known each other for nearly two years now, first meeting shortly after I moved into the North Side of Wilmington, Delaware. Our shared community - the small city he grew up in and the neighborhood I was new to - had recently seen an escalation in violent crime. This interview came after a series of conversations on violence in our neighborhoods.
So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” – Initial report of the spies in Canaan, Numbers 13:32-33
I grew up in the suburbs and had never seen or heard a firearm discharged. That changed once I moved into inner city Wilmington. Here, gun violence escalated enough in 2012 to earn the city a top ranking as “worst place to raise your children” by Parenting Magazine.[i] When I first moved in, I regularly listened to gunfire at night. My neighbors, patients, and friends have told me accounts of being shot in the face, pistol-whipped, and threatened at gunpoint. My most reliable and informative witnesses have been children, a fact that continues to disturb me.
As a parent of three small children I have come to cherish the quiet moments that come after we wrestle our three children into bed. My wife and I can finally relax, talk, watch TV, and read without interruption. Moving to the inner city and getting involved with teenagers and our neighbors’ lives has meant that this sacred time gets interrupted quite often. Most nights there are knocks at the door for kids needing rides, neighbors with medical issues, kids wanting to talk, a schizophrenic wanting some orange juice, etc. These times of interruption often prove to be the most fruitful in terms of forming relationships and sharing about the love of Jesus. In fact I think if we only shared at convenient times we might never share.
For forty-some years now, the Church of the Saviour has been in Washington, D.C., and we now have health services in various places in the city. We also run housing ministries, job programs, programs for children. My own family has been here since 1976. This is where God has called us to invest our lives.
Oftentimes when people who know Philadelphia’s neighborhoods find out where I live, and that I walk or bike to work most days, they either look at me with concern for my sanity or with admiration for my bravery. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked “Is it safe there?” and I never know how to answer. Is it safe? No, not really. There have been several shootings on the block or near the block where I live within the past year. There are guys who stand on the street corners at all hours of the day and night, conducting shady “business” deals. It is common for a guy on a dirt bike or ATV to ride up the street popping a wheelie the whole way, shattering the normal neighborhood sounds with their loud engines. My heart still breaks over the story in the newspaper about a 10-month old who lived within a block of me that died with track marks — track marks!— on his body. This is not a “safe” neighborhood.
An interactive map of the United States showing where the uninsured live. Published by the New York Times.
View the map here http://www.nytimes.com/newsgraphics/2013/12/18/uninsured-map/
Where are the mentors? We want to believe that genius and skill are natural, but the truth is that they are dependent on discipline and training far more than on raw talent alone. Any of us who admire an elegant surgeon or an astute clinician or a sensitive counselor will instinctively agree that they engaged in the thoughtful preparation and intentional investment of time, yet we expect teaching and mentoring to happen effortlessly.
I’ve never thought of myself as a natural “discipler,”—helping another become more like Jesus. How am I, a broken human being, an expert on being like Jesus? I especially don’t think of myself as a natural “mentor,”—helping another become more like me. I feel uncomfortable when I read Paul’s words calling others to imitate him:
Jesus mentored his disciples, that is, he trained them to live as he lived, so they could thrive in his absence. In fact, he practiced mentoring that has the greatest level of influence--the kind that doesn’t revolve around set meetings and formal curriculum. Jesus opened his day-to-day life to his trainees. They shared his eating, traveling, teaching, healing, resting, visiting, and interacting with detractors and devotees alike.
My ideas about mentoring have been shaped (as it is for us all) by my own experiences as the mentee and also as the mentor. Mentor in the dictionary is defined as “a trusted counselor or guide; one who acts as a coach or tutor.” When I think about mentoring I am reminded of a song by Michael Card, called “The Bearers of Light”
After 15 years of working in business and finance, in the summer of 1999 I left that world in my rear view mirror and drove across the country in a U-Haul in order to shift gears in my life and vocation. I had turned down an opportunity for partnership in the financial planning firm where I worked from 1996-1999 as a result of realizing that I wanted to do more than help people work toward financial freedom. I wanted to journey with them toward true freedom.
From the Princeton, New Jersey publication Revisions: A Journal of Christian Perspective, Dr. David Chen writes an excellent article about mental illness. A short exceprt from the original publication of the Spring 2009 issue of Revisions follows:
"Perhaps what we fear the most about death, disease, and mental illness is the way they illuminate the lack of control we have over our lives. We are but vapors in the wind, and such reminders about our relative powerlessness over the most important things in life—love and death –are galling, provocative, and humbling conclusions. In the case of the villagers and the disciples, the loss of that control to the hands of Christ, even when wielded with healing and peace, still struck them with terror.
Small wonder that, despite our lip service to the contrary, we are content to fend off the horrors of our bodies and minds with vain and ineffective means. Even if we were offered the cures to all our diseases and the restoration of our mental faculties, would we be willing to yield our own autonomy and authority to such an unknown and unbreakable deity? Would we ever want admit that we rejected such promise?
Small wonder that we crucified him."
You can check it out the article in it's entirety here.
This map offers viewers an interactive picture of the racial landscape of the United States of America: a helpful resource to aid in understanding and reconciliation.
The patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model both affirms the idealism of what primary care ought to be and outlines a structured path of how to get there. This article analyzes the PCMH model, its special relevance to Christian health centers, and a promising case study.
I suspect that most members of the CCHF community would welcome some unsuspected power from God. Our work of living out the gospel through health care among the poor carries us from joy to despair--and to every emotion in between. This issue of H&D is about the Book of Psalms, the Holy Spirit’s collection of lyrical poems that addresses all of those human emotions.
Recently during CCHF’s week of prayer, a Divine appointment brought an ill-looking young lady to Good News Community Center in Portland, for treatment of open skin abscesses. She was referred by our local hospital, having no medical insurance or means to pay. Her heroin addiction had led to the loss of her job, her home, and the custody of her 3 year old daughter. She had recently been released from jail, while her boyfriend remained incarcerated. A broken relationship with her mother who lived close by left her couch-surfing with acquaintances still on drugs. Abused in childhood, she felt neglected all her life, with no spiritual foundation. As we looked eye to eye, I was moved with compassion for her, touched by her loneliness and pain. I offered our help to secure housing and regain custody of her daughter. She said she would get back to me, and appreciated our care of her wounds, the prayer, and especially the Bible offered. Clutching it close to her bosom, and smiling timidly to hide decaying teeth, she said that she had started reading the Psalms while in jail.
Healthcare workers stand at the gates to life and death. We welcome newborn babies into the world and assist at the bedside of someone dying. We are frequently present when suffering and pain occurs in the lives of those under our care.
In the Bible, people who experienced great suffering and loss somehow held onto their faith and hope in God. Their intimate conversations with God in times of grief, anger, and doubt offer help to us today.
As creative pieces go, the assignment probably didn’t classify as “high art” but it was quite striking and beautiful. The triptych (a three-paneled altar piece) was simple in construction and style, but the images were arresting and unexpected. On the furthest left panel was a woman in scrubs. In the middle was a loving Madonna, Mary the mother of Jesus, holding a baby. As I recall, the furthest panel was a hospital bed, with a female figure lying in it. If one looked closely, one could see that the figures were made up of tiny pieces of paper with words on them that had been torn, applied to the panels, and then painted. In front of the panel, the student placed a single votive candle.
The Psalms of Ascent, chapters 120-134, are fifteen hymns for pilgrims journeying to the Holy City, Jerusalem. From the very beginning, these sacred travelers are aware that their path is hazardous; danger surrounds them. But throughout their journey, the pilgrims are certain of one thing – their God, the One enthroned in heaven, is with them.
I lift my eyes to You, the One enthroned in heaven. Like a servant’s eyes on her mistress’s hand, so our eyes are on the Lord our God until He shows us favor. - Psalm 123:1-2
Fully half of the 150 lyrical poems that make up the Book of Psalms were penned by King David. In nearly all of those 75 compositions, Jesus Christ is present, sometimes as a faint shadow and other times as a towering figure.
The connection between King David and King Jesus begins in the Book of 2 Samuel. After years of running for his life, David was established by all twelve tribes of Israel as King in Jerusalem.
After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2 he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.” (2 Samuel 7:1-2)
I sit alone in the blackened pit of despair, Void of joy, Void of peace and Filled with inexpressible pain. I cry out to God for relief, But relief doesn’t come. And I feel abandoned, even by God.
Welcome to the first electronic-only issue of Health and Development (H&D). Over thirty years ago, CCHF’s founders recognized the need for Christians working among the poor to exchange ideas and experiences. Since the first issue was published in 1979, H&D has been shepherded by a series of able editors, including Lance Loberg, David Caes, Jerry Stromberg, and, most recently, Steve Noblett.
Almost twenty years ago my wife Lisa and I moved into a pretty rough neighborhood on the west side of Chicago. We didn’t have a great vision or strong sense of calling to the neighborhood, but it made practical sense for us; rent was cheap and we saw value in living where we were already building relationships. There were a few challenges, but in time we bought a house, met our neighbors, and settled into life here.
Shortly after I moved into the upper 9th ward of New Orleans, I was awakened one night by the sound of angry voices from the street outside. The predominant voice was male, with occasional enraged rebuttals from a female voice. I was only able to catch an occasional word and many of those were profane. Irrationally, I feared that this man might somehow be directing his hostility toward me. I spent more than an hour on my knees praying-- for my own safety and for God to bring peace to the man. I was partially praying and partially taking cover from what I feared might end in gunfire. The thought of stepping outside and offering to pray for him, or just sitting on my porch, briefly crossed my mind, but I didn’t rise from my hidden position. Eventually, the voices quieted and I climbed back into bed.
My husband and I moved to Fort Worth, Texas in 2010 from San Antonio. He had finished medical school and was getting reading to begin a residency in family medicine at the county hospital. I had just finished my first year of teaching in the US after spending three years in Latin America. We had moved, married, and begun new jobs within one very full month. We began to get settled, and I contacted Catholic Charities about volunteer service opportunities. An English teacher with a background in ESL, I thought that I might do some tutoring during the summer. I met with the volunteer coordinator and learned that an area of great need was for mentors within the refugee services program. Fort Worth resettles a large number of refugees from countries including Burma, Nepal, Bhutan, Iraq, Somalia, and Congo. Refugee services are partially funded through a match-grant program that pairs refugees with mentors. My husband and I were soon paired with a Congolese family that had recently arrived in Fort Worth. We met each other for the first time later that summer in their new home at Ladera Palms Apartments. Although our conversation was initially quite limited due to the language barrier, we soon developed a friendship as we shared about our families and cultures.
My name is Janine and I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I have been living and working in inner-city Memphis for the past year and I love it.
Growing up in a middle-class suburb of Philly and being raised by believing parents, I experienced the blessings of having a good education and of being challenged to follow Jesus’ leading. As a teenager, the Lord began directing me to people who had never heard the Gospel. He led me toward medical training so I could meet physical needs of the people I would be living among.
I’m convinced that what I’m doing is the right thing. This is what I’ve been taught and believed for over two decades; it’s finally time for me to practice what I’ve preached and prayed. I’m talking about relocating to the inner city Las Vegas neighborhood where I serve every week. My heart has been there, now it’s time to get fully immersed. Relocation may not be for everyone, but it’s for me.
Discover the documented effect of prayer on depression and anxiety. This in-depth medical study measures increased hope and spirituality that endured even through the one year followup. Prayer therapy is gaining traction with primary care practitioners who are looking for a more effective therapy than can be found in pharmacology.
All disciples suffer, sometimes to the point of despair. If we want to make God look great and to expand his Kingdom in the world’s toughest places, we’ll need a sturdy theology of suffering. This article offers practical encouragement for persevering through suffering.
Even with an endless stream of patients and an overwhelming need for dental care, this dentist finds joy and encouragement as she connects with her patients and makes a difference in their lives.
As people in healing ministries our biggest mistake would be to try to engage in healing ministry in our own effort, without the one who ultimately brings the healing.
Health is integral to the gospel message. For many years, medicine and healthcare was seen as a means to presenting the gospel. Jesus did not separate caring for a person’s illness from caring for his relationship with God.
A marriage and family therapist moves from the classroom to the clinic in her first trainee position. Follow along as she transitions from theory into real life and finds herself forever changed.
CCHF has recently revisited the guiding principles of our organization. Robert Campbell shares about the Mission, the Vision, and the Core Values that have been defined as part of positioning the CCHF family to help grow a movement.
Whether living in an at-risk community or immersed in medical school, God calls us to live intentionally as neighbors who share hope in Christ.
One woman's story of what it means to live out the gospel through healthcare among the poor both at home and abroad.
Dispensary of Hope is helping over 100 charitable clinics and pharmacies all over the country meet the pharmaceutical needs of their patients by ministering compassion through stewardship.
Summary of survey results at 2010 CCHF Annual Conference regarding healthy practices, burnout, and characteristics of providers serving in high-stress, poor communities.
Over 100 CCHF members participated in a working session to identify values and principles that represent a kingdom view of healthcare at the 2010 CCHF Conference. This article provides a summary of the groups work.
An inside look at an exciting new program from Good News Community Health Center in Portland, Oregon, that helps them consistently offer whole-person patient care.
Steven Reames ponders Jesus’ healing ministry and the lessons it has for modern medical practice.
Dr. Veda Johnson challenges Christian health professionals to take a broader view of our role in treating the causes of health disparities in our communities.
Dr. Morgan Wills takes a look at the classic definition of “health” and offers a biblical critique of the WHO’s core principle.
Traci Warner discusses temptations that singles in medicine often face.
Dr. Bryan Hollinger discusses the parallels between the life of Moses and the lives of Christians in healthcare.
Karen Rose discusses five aspects of true neighboring.
Dr. William Teubl shares lessons that have shaped how he relates to his patients in rural New York state.
Ray Downing proposes that simply being either a missionary or a neighbor is not the whole answer to Christ-like patient care.
John Shorb interviews Karl Watts, AAFP’s 2010 Physician of the Year and plenary speaker at CCHF Conference 2010.
A look at staggering infant mortality rates and how implementing the CenteringPregnancy® program in Memphis is working to change them.
How a small group of Christian lay health workers have had a major impact on infant mortality in one of Mississippi’s poorest counties.
Health ministries that were started with a desire to honor Christ drift away from that fundamental mission more often than we would like to admit.
One CCHF member takes the insurance companies, medical establishment, and New York state government head-on in a stand for justice for the uninsured.
The Church Health Center launches a new web community to help both lay people and professionals link faith and health.
A career nurse reflects on a journey of discovery and service that began at age 48 and would lead her to understand her true calling.
Advocacy for reform in healthcare should be an issue of justice for Christians everywhere. The founder of the Church Health Center in Memphis challenges Christian health professionals to lead the way.
The way we “see” people either increases their suffering or is a powerful bridge for healing and empathy.
How one small church is bringing a glimmer of hope to the largest primary care black hole in the country.
A major hospital recognizes the importance and effectiveness of empowering churches to engage in the health of the community.
A surgeon learns valuable lessons on the mission field that transform his practice back home.
Dr. Canning offers ways of preparing for and responding to the challenges and rewards of working in healthcare for the underserved.
Dr. Rick Donlon looks at five crucial weapons disciples of Christ need in order to slay the modern day giants that we face in healing ministries.
Christ Health Center was one of the featured clinic stories at the 2009 CCHF Conference because of its unique partnership with a local church. Director, Ramsey Duck tells the story of the early development of this inspiring ministry.
Dr. Jones, founder of Lawndale Christian Health Center, takes a look at some of the questions that have been prominent in the healthcare reform debate this fall.
Debbie Smith, director for the Center for Women in Medicine, shares how women on the front lines of serving others through healthcare can maintain their well-being and balance their lives in the midst of so many pressures and conflicting roles.
The Old Testament concept of shalom has been offered as a definition of true Biblical health. Grace Tazelaar writes about shalom as being the result of our reconciliation with God, self, others and the world around us.
Lawndale Christian Health Center CEO tells how LCHC is using its health center to bring about real change in the lifestyle of its community.
Cross-Over Ministry in Richmond, Virginia uses the Lay Health Promoter program to address the generational health effects of poverty.
Academic Pediatrician Michelle Barratt describes the challenges and opportunities of mentoring students and residents, being transparent in her faith to those she serves, especially students and residents, while serving her patients and their families.
A pastor’s account of the development of a church’s vision to provide quality, holistic Christian health care to the needy community of Champaign, IL, and the team of committed people that have sustained that vision, with support and encouragement from CCHF and CCHF-related health-care ministries.
The author draws on wisdom writings and the example of Jesus to accentuate the importance of compassion, cultural awareness and humanity into the clinical health-care encounter. Rowe then applies this cura approach to the specific situation of refugees and their health care.
Pastor and Missions Director, Nathan Cook draws on the life of the prophet Isaiah as an example of how God sometimes calls us to "imprudent obedience".
This is a montage of short articles written by various CCHF members from all over the world as a response to the question, "Is the Kingdom of God a significant motivating factor in your work with the poor, and if so, how?"
Appalachia has one of the highest incidents of prescription drug abuse in the country. These two physicians share how knowing five key things can benefit providers in helping their patients manage chronic pain and minimize potential misuse.
Missionary physician Steve Hawthorne describes his shocking discovery of the extent to which he had compartmentalized his faith, and then shares his quest to integrate his secular, scientific profession of healing with his faith in God, who actively sustains all aspects of his creation.
The second of the author's biblical reflections from the 2007 CCHF Conference digs deeply into the historical and contemporary significance of the man that Jesus healed—and released—from the disease of dropsy, which Loberg likens to avarice.
We have a Biblical mandate and a rich heritage of true hospitality. This thoughtful article is both a summary and continuation of the workshop that the Hartman's led at Conference '08 on The Challenge of Hospitality.
Why do you do what you do? What are you building? Pat Burns talks about how a revelation of the kingdom of God gives us a model and a motive for community development and reconciliation.
A Christian physician working in a secular health center shares how a week that got out of control brought her to a greater understanding of who Christ is and a deeper dependence on his mercy.
The challanges and joys of a health clinic serving in Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina
This very personal sermon finds reason to take heart in catastrophic times. Hilfiker says that as we celebrate each other's call in the context of ever-deepening community, we "co-create with God toward the reign of God."
Tazelaar sees God redeeming the HIV/AIDS crisis in Sub-Sahara Africa for the kingdom purposes of community, justice, and evangelism.
The Author, a staff memeber at CMDA, describes a collaboriate initiative to provide pathways for Christian doctors to give 4% of their time to serve among the poor.
A doctor's personal log takes the reader through a harrowing, but typical, weekend on call, followed by a psalm of lament.
A nurse learns to "never say never" when at 50+ her career path takes some interesting turns.
A would-be research scientist finds path to joy through clinical service
Rowe gives essential competencies for health-care providers wanting to serve effectively for Christ in an African-American cultural context. Hint: The first step is admitting that you don't know what you don't know.
From the author's biblical reflection at CCHF COnference 2007, this study places Jesus' temptations in a political freamwork and finds parallels with both the nation of Israel and with life in the nation we call home.
In this transcript from her CCHF conference 2007 plenary address, the author weaves stories and scripture to speak to the uniqueness of Christian health care. our distinctive calling, identity, work ethic and rewards are all considered.
How we define the practice of medicine makes all the difference. Using three Christian metaphors, Curlin helps us see through current misconceptions of medicine and guides us to a more biblical conception.
Two nurses step out and pray with patients, then watch God work.
The sign of the cross, an ancient liturgical gesture, is examined for its ability to remind us of our source and purpose in practicing health care among the poor.
The author anticipates major power shifts in the body of Christ and urges majority culture readers to aopt a "third paradigm" in minsitry partnerships
A college sophomore asks probing questions about our political allegiances.
Authored by a student and a professor in the field, this article outlines the roles, spirituality, and requirements of parish nursing.
A look at how God helped turn a non-profit disaster into a growing, effective dental care ministry for North Seattle.
The story of a health clinic in rural north Illinois born out of a desire to provide healthcare to the least of these.
Myron Glick, MD, reflects on some of the things that we may be able to learn from this monstrous event and its aftermath.
Prolific author and Kentucky farmer Wendell Berry explores the concept of health as wholeness within community. He contrasts that model with the mechanisitic framework prevalent in American healthcare.
The author describes his church's health fair as an example of compassionate and counter-culture service among the poor.
Dr. Goetcheus reflects on her experience with Christ House, a ministry of Church of Saviour in Washington DC, and how the "least of these" became her greatest teachers.
A prolific author and Kentucky farmer explores the concept of health as wholeness within community. He contrasts that model with the mechanistic framework prevalent in American health care.
A rebuttal to a 2005 H&D article, with the author's own insurance-free clinic offered as a model of one grassroots alternative for serving the working poor.
Jesus is the author's model as she epxlores the four "sacred rhythms" or prayer, community, work, and rest.
A provacative discussion of the biblical definition of equity, the limitations of advocacy, and Christians' call to follow Jesus.
"Patients want to talk to their health care providers about their spiritual lives." Using Scripture and research as support, a physician encourages health care workers to introduce spiritual matters into patient interactions.
The authors describe AIDS Christian Caribbean Empowerment Services and Solutions (ACCESS), a pilot project to develop comprehensive health care clinics in the Caribbean.
The author discusses some of the thinking that keeps churches from embracing their HIV/AIDS neighbors, especially in poor communities.
A pastor applies Cain's infamous question to world crises, and makes a biblical case that a "life with God is a life of being my brother's keeper."
A doctor at Dayspring shares how the foud adhesives of purpose and design, building well, shared decision-making, and conversing together have kept diverse staff together.
Ann Dominguez demosntrates the value of all people - particularly the least of these - through the story of the Gerasene Demonac in Matthew 8:28-34.
Three pioneers of CCHF discuss strategies for introducing and safeguarding high-quality health care in poor communities. (From the Archives)
Former CCHF staff Keesha Moore recounts her journey out of poverty and a transformative experience with Christ that led her to work at CCHF.
Taken from the author's plenary speach at CCHF's2004 conference, this article exhorts readers to embrace the African defintion of health - "one that is holistic,...where the whole person and the whole community are included in order to achieve wholeness."
A pastor uses Jesus' teaching to discover what makes ministry important.
Dr. Rick Donlon shares the theological blindspots that marked the first years of opening a clinic in inner-city Memphis.
Drawn from the author's 2003 conference Bible study, David McRay meditates on Christ's intsruction to His disciples to "minister to the least of these."
Lynne Medley-Long examines the motivation for ministry through a discussion of two parables in the gospel of Luke, highlighting the concept of "neighborliness" in the early church and today.
All of us who live in cities know that things are desperate. The media seems to take some perverse delight in chronicling how bad things are in our urban areas. But we don't need the media to tell us that—it is a reality that many of us have to live with day after day. It is easy to be overwhelmed by hopelessness. John Perkins writes about this critical situation and the role that the church needs to play in restoring hope.
Art Jones, MD, reflects on Jesus' parable in Luke 8:5-15 about the different kinds of dirt in regard to medical professionals.
The fight to bring Christian health workers to areas of need is a battle that may be lost in the universities and medical centers where health professionals are trained. One student tells why.