We must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said,
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

You can make a difference!

Though the needs in the developing world are profound, ongoing, and overwhelming, if you are willing to serve and use the talents and skills that you have been given, you could be used to literally save a life! I have seen this simple truth validated as I have served in medical mission/relief work in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010.

Our team was in Port au Prince serving at a community outreach clinic when an elderly woman was carried in who was unresponsive and had passed out in the street just outside the church where we were conducting clinic. Through an interpreter it was determined that she had repeated episodes of vomiting & diarrhea earlier that morning that were too many to count. She was diaphoretic and cool to the touch. Not good when it is 100 degrees outside! We had brought IV’s and NS 1000 mL bags knowing that cholera, was endemic in the community. She was an incredibly difficult IV stick–dark skinned, in shock due to volume depletion, but on the third try and breathing a prayer, I visualized blood in the hub of the IV catheter and IV fluid resuscitation began!

She slowly improved and was placed in the car of her son (no ambulance service) who took her to a nearby cholera hospital for further treatment. I found out a year later on our next trip to Haiti that she had survived and was doing well! Our part in this was to make ourselves available to serve. God did the rest!

Don’t Waste Your Life

One book that continually challenges me is Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. Each one of us has a finite amount of time to live our life for what really matters. The greatest tragedy is to come to the end of our days realizing that we wasted the one life we have been given on this earth. A life lived to serve others is a life NOT wasted. This is what makes nursing so much more than a job or even a profession when you bring this spirit into all you do as you care for others.

Your Textbooks Needed!

If you are a student who has textbooks you know you will never open after graduation, or an educator who has older editions of textbooks gathering dust, SEND THEM TO ME! I have contacts in Liberia, an English-speaking African country that is in desperate need to have such basic resources as nursing textbooks. It is not uncommon to have an entire nursing class of 80 students with just a few textbooks that are shared by all. Please email me for my home address.

100 Jetliners Crash Daily

To put the needs of the developing world in context, if 100 jetliners crashed today killing 26,500 people it would get my, yours, and the world’s attention. But a tragedy of this scope occurs every day in the developing world: 26,500 children die of preventable causes related to their poverty every day. Over one year this equates to 10,000,000 lives lost every year.

If you would like to be aware of opportunities to serve in the developing world, please explore the resources that I have compiled. If you have a medical mission experience you would like to share or pearls of wisdom or resources you have found invaluable, START THE CONVERSATION and comment below!

Practical Preparation

The following docs. are essential “nuts & bolts” that will give you the needed direction to raise support, prepare practically and transitioning back to the real world after your medical mission trip:

STARTING WELL: Raising financial support
PREPARING WELL-Preparing for international travel
ENDING WELL: Transitioning back home

Medications & Medical Supplies

I collaborated with experienced physicians who have served in the developing world and compiled a list of appx. 40 medications and supplies that are essential for meeting the vast majority of medical needs you will experience in a community clinic in the developing world. The types of illnesses best treated are also incorporated in this list and are an essential formulary to take with you on any medical mission trip!

The Clinic Record Documentation form provides needed documentation for each patient seen as well as all medications on the formulary on the back side for easy selection.

Essential Medications/supplies REVISED 3/2012
Clinic Record Documentation form

I have found Blessings International to be a reliable, economical source of bulk medications. They also have medication baggies and icon driven med labels that do not require the ability to read to understand.

Christian Ministry Resources

As Christians, we must  recognize that in this world we are in enemy occupied territory, and that our battle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6: 10-20). All of our efforts to minister effectively must be grounded in persistent prayer and intercession. Operation World is a classic book that gives you essential demographic data on every nation in the world, but also topics of prayer for that country that will help you be more effective in your service.

1. Operation World: The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation is the definitive global prayer handbook that will help focus your heart and life towards God’s passion for His glory. With over 1 million copies of past versions being sold, this all new 7th edition has been completely updated and revised by Jason Mandryk and covers the entire populated world. Whether you are an intercessor praying behind the scenes for world change, a missionary reaping the benefits of intercession or simply curious about the world, Operation World will give you the information necessary to be a vital part in fulfilling God’s passion for the nations.

If your medical team is going to minister intentionally the love of Christ through your medical service, basic gospel tracts that are concise and grounded in scripture are essential. I have found the following essential to share God’s love practically through evangelism:

2. A Fathers Love Letter: This one page handout (both sides) can be downloaded and then printed on the brightest colors of paper possible. They are a series of scriptures starting with the Psalms and working through the entire Bible share God’s heart of love and desire to have relationship with His creation. If you are goint to a nation other than Haiti, you can download the English version and then using Google translator can translate to the language you need

3. For Your Joy: This is one of my favorite gospel booklets and is authored by John Piper. It can be purchased directly through Desiring God Ministries.  It is produced in many languages including Creole. Some of the content areas include: Why Did Jesus Have to Die?, How Can God Love Me?, What Does This All Mean for Me?, What Should I Do?

4. World Missionary Press: This is an excellent organization that exists to provide scripture booklets/tracts in most major languages for no cost. They will send 1 box of #500 tracts with only a request  needed. They are worth supporting and giving what you can to offset their costs. Some of my favorites that I recommend include:

  • The Way to God: Especially for children but suitable for adults as well. Its purpose is to share God’s love and plan of salvation and how to live for Jesus. Features illustrations and a larger type size.
  • Who Am I That a King Would Die in My Place? Shows who we were made to be, what we became, where that leads us, our need for God’s rescue, and what we can become by accepting God’s grace.
  • How to Know God: Tells how to have a personal relationship with God. Designed for Muslims, but excellent as a general evangelistic tool.
  • The Power of God: Shows God’s creative, saving, sustaining, and overcoming power. For believers and non-believers.

Medical Missions: Links

For those that want more information on Haiti and how to serve and minister effectively, the following links are a starting point on this adventure!

  1. Blessings International: This ministry is essential if you are wanting to purchase medications in bulk (usually #500-1000) per medication. They are reasonable and also have needed medical supplies and the visual icon med labels that are essential for clinic ministry.
  2. Haiti Nursing Foundation: This organization exists to support the advancement of nursing in Haiti. Through a governing board comprised of both Haitian and Americans, and support from the Presbyterian Church USA, the only private baccalaureate nursing school in Haiti(Faculty of Nursing Science of the Episcopal University of Haiti or FSIL). You can help provide financial support for a nursing student, or if an educator serve for 1-2 weeks or longer as a guest nursing faculty.
  3. Partners in Health: Is an international health organization relentlessly committed to improving the health of the poor and marginalized. They work in 12 countries including Haiti. Founded by Paul Farmer who has written an excellent book, Haiti After the Earthquake is a compelling eyewitness account and gives a “big picture” perspective on Haiti. Healthcare Challenges in Haiti, is also an excellent article that will give you greater understanding of Haiti’s ongoing challenges to deliver needed medical care with links to healthcare indicators in Haiti.
  4. Project Medishare: Operated by the University of Miami Medical School since 1994, one of their priorities is operating the only trauma hospital in Port au Prince. There are opportunities to serve as a physician or nurse in this facility, that also is staffed by Haitian healthcare professionals as well. A team from the ED where I work just returned and was a life changer in many ways.
  5. Medical Teams International: Their mission is to demonstrate the love of Christ to people affected by disaster, conflict and poverty around the world. If you are a healthcare professional who desires to serve ST or LT with an emphasis on demonstrating the love of Christ, this is a great place to start!
  6. Community Health Evangelism: is a true best practices model for integrating evangelism and discipleship with community based development. CHE is being used around the world by churches,mission agencies, and non-government organizations to lift whole communities out of cycles of poverty and disease.
  7. I have found the following books excellent resources to give you the “big picture” of effectively ministering and serving in a different culture:
  • When Helping Hurts, reveals the faulty assumptions you may have about the causes of poverty,  which results in the use of strategies instead of helping,  do considerable harm to poor people and themselves.
  • Foreign to Familiar-A Guide to Understanding Hot and Cold Climate Countries, seeks to aid the reader in cross-cultural communication and relationships by highlighting the differences between hot (relationship oriented)- and cold (task oriented-American)-climate cultures.
  • The Hole in Our Gospel, written by the current president of World Vision, challenges Christians to to reflect Christ’s love to our neighbors at home and globally and to embrace the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ by caring and embracing the neediest and most vulnerable among us.
  • Don’t Waste Your Life, by Pastor John Piper at Bethlehem Baptist here in Minneapolis. We all have a desire to live our lives for something significant. This book will challenge you to live and die boasting in the cross of Christ and making the glory of God your singular passion. Living passionately for God and  pursuing eternal treasure  is the only antidote to avoid wasting the one shot we have in this life.
  • Pastor John Piper of Bethlehem Baptist in Mpls. MN, has written a classic work on missions: Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions. Pastor John states, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” Piper draws on key biblical texts to demonstrate that worship is the ultimate goal of the church and that proper worship fuels missionary outreach.

Faith Based Resources

If you are a student or nurse with a strong faith who entered the nursing profession out of a sense of calling or vocation to ministry, you see your patient differently. Vocation as it relates to nursing is doing whatever is nescessary and possible for the good of the patient (1).

When you see your patient as the “least of these” caregiving has eternal significance! This ideal for nursing was also recognized by early American nurse eduicator Isabel Hampton Robb who wrote in her text Nursing Ethics, 1900, the following:

The spirit in which she does her work makes all the difference. Invested as she should with the dignity of her profession and the cloak of love for suffering humanity, she can ennoble anything her hand may be called upon to do, and for work done in this spirit there will ever come to her a recompense far outweighing that of silver and gold.” (2)

If you have a biblical worldview or strong faith, my objective with this page is to provide resources to support your spiritual journey so that God’s purposes for you can be realized within the nursing profession.croce

The centrality of caring and compassion to nursing practice is not coincidental. The value of compassion and caring for the sick was founded on the teachings and example of Jesus, who demonstrated high regard for human life through His model of service, sacrifice, and teaching that “in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” Matthew 7:12. This historical paradigm shift was the foundation that caregiving was built upon by the early church and religious orders throughout the Middle Ages.

Nightingale: Nursing as a Calling

florenceFlorence Nightingale was also influenced by this same value system and her faith and belief in God motivated her to transform health care and the nursing profession (3). At the age of 17, Nightingale felt that God had spoken to her and was calling her to service.

She viewed nursing as a search for truth and used God’s laws of healing in nursing practice (4). She willingly chose to sacrificially serve during the Crimean War caring for the wounded, making rounds as the “lady with the lamp,” and educating nurses. She implemented numerous reforms to lower the 73 percent mortality rate from diseases alone and had a 1,000 page report of statistics she had compiled during this time. Nightingale established her schools of nursing after the war based on her “evidence-based practice” (5).

Nightingale’s life clearly demonstrates that faith, service, and nursing can and do complement one another in practice!

Useful Links
I have found the following to be excellent resources for any student or nurse.
Nurses Christian Fellowship can be established as a student chapter at any nursing program. I encourage you to establish a chapter to support other like minded students and be a living light where God has placed you!

References
1. O’Lynn, C. (2012) A man’s guide to a nursing career, New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company
2. Hampton Robb, E. (1900). Nursing ethics. Cleveland, OH: E.C. Koeckert.
3. McDonald, L. (1999). Nightingale’s spirituality: The faith of Florence nightingale. uoguelph.ca. Retrieved June 15, 2013 from http://www.uoguelph.ca/~cwfn/spirituality/spirituality.html.
4. Macrae, J. (1995). Nightingale’s spiritual philosophy and its significance for modern nursing, Image Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 27(8).
5. Lewis Coakley,  M. (1990). The faith behind the famous: Florence Nightingale: Christian history sampler. Christianitytoday.com. Retrieved from http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/1990/issue25/2537.html?start=1

2 Comments
  1. Beth A

    That is the core reason I wanted to be in medical profession, help the less fortunate!

    I came from a country that is similar to what you described above, although I lived in a fairly stable family I remember the days that I was not full after eating my dinner, because it was just not enough. Growing up with Asthma, in a country that takes 1hr to get to the closest hospital to get that one neb tx(which was not actually what it was called there, but similar effect, IM injection) was a struggle for my parents who loved me. Many days they thought they were not going to see me again.
    Now that I am in a country that has the best medical care, I can’t help it but think back to my childhood and think, what if I can help one child.

    Last year I traveled to Haiti, because I wanted the satisfaction that we receive from “giving than receiving”. Just like it is written in Acts 20:35. God bless you for what you are doing for those who need that help. I am blessed to have this profession to be able to help even if it is for one life.
    My experience in Haiti was breath taking. I was touched by the things I saw in the ED and ICU as those were the areas I volunteers. But, came back home (MN, USA) to do even more for the less fortunate. I couldn’t think any were else but the villages and the city I grow up in, Ethiopia.
    Although Ethiopia has grown so much since I left, 12 years ago, there are a lot to be done. The Lord has heard my cry, my sadness as I think about those who have no doctor to see, no nurse to visit or not even a hospital close enough to save them from their asthma attack.
    This March, God has given me and other nurses in my church an opportunity to start a medical mission ministry that will travel once a year to the poorest areas of Ethiopia. I will be traveling this March to volunteer but also set up for a yearly medical mission trip. The Lord has given me a lot of response from those who want to help out already and I am so thankful for that.

    I am deeply touched and I pray that if I can do one thing in this short life of mine, is to fulfill His purpose in my life.
    May God’s grace be with you and thank you for sharing. I will keep you in my prayer.
    Sometimes, I wonder why God picks some people to serve him in certain way. And just a few days ago, I came across Paul’s word in Ephesians 4:1 “I, a prisoner for the Lord, then, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling your calling, for you have been called by God.”
    Two things, one Paul was a prisoner so he has no choice but serve the Lord. And the second he did it b/c that was his calling.
    I believe, God puts us in this profession to serve his kingdom and be a light for others.
    I want to say I enjoy your blogs a lot and please continue to do this as you touch many lives because what is in you is greater than what is in the world.
    Thanks
    Beth

    • keithrn

      Thank you Beth for sharing. Your perspective hits home and am blessed to see your heart to serve and minister what you have been given. We have one life to live. It is up to us not to waste it! Your comments make me think of a statement I saw when I was younger but is timeless in its truth, “Only one life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last”

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