As I have taught several community health courses over the years, I have found myself asking if I have been truly equipping my students with the knowledge to work as missionary nurses in their own communities. Since the health message and evangelism are key components of the Adventist worldview, I believe that it would be highly important to incorporate both in these classes. I came to this conclusion after reading books such as the Ministry of Healing, Welfare Ministry, and Medical Ministry.
With the information that we, as Seventh-day Adventists (SDA) have, we could adopt a curriculum that specifically reflects a mission for evangelism and addresses the whole person. The standard topics that are currently being taught should still be included in the curriculum but could expand a bit to highlight a Biblical and Spirit of Prophecy foundation. Upon further examination of these topics, students would then be equipped to work as missionary nurses in their communities. We need to be intentional about how this is accomplished, and, by using more than one method, the likelihood of achieving this goal will be increased.
I have recently begun putting this philosophy into practice, and now would like to share with you some ideas that I have tried:
Raise Awareness of Health Evangelism Programs in the Community. One idea I had in mind is to give lectures with pertinent information about the different health ministry programs available, and how they each can be used. In my own talks, I address how a community can be effectively assessed to determine the best programs (including follow-up) to be offered in their specific area. I connect this information to what I share about the importance of caring for others in and outside of their church family, using different possible scenarios for best application. The goal is to help students brainstorm their own solutions for individuals and their families, as well as the overall population. I also introduce the role of a faith community nurse.
Initiate Hands-On Outreach Projects. Another way to engage students on the topic is by providing them with hands-on experience which could include their participation in community events such as health fairs, or involve them teaching sessions at schools, assisted living centers, daycare centers, and community centers. Students may also choose to work alongside a local church that is already holding a health evangelism program. They may choose to assist with these programs by either facilitating a group discussion, delivering presentations and/or making calls to participants to check on their progress and further offering them support.
Scout out Volunteer Opportunities. Opportunities can be sought out for students to attend committees that oversee bigger programs, and to take part in other community initiatives and/or meetings that are looking to improve the health of the community. Giving them exposure to the work of the local Adventist Community Services can even provide them with a chance to start serving prior to graduation. These ideas can enlighten the students in many areas where they can serve.
This is just the beginning of my journey in teaching community health classes that focus on ministry, evangelism and our health message. It is my goal to equip students to do medical missionary work in their future sphere of practice and to support the greater mission of the Adventist church. The Christian nurse can then be a significant link in bringing others to the gospel message and continuing the healing ministry of Jesus.