In July, as you will read in Peter Armon’s report (p6), we held a day conference for Christian health professionals of all disciplines on working overseas in mission and development. This was held at Oak Hill College in the middle weekend of the Developing Health Course and about a dozen course participants joined us at various points during the day. Around seventy heath professionals and students came (despite the travel chaos and anxiety in London following the suicide bombing two days previously).
Ted Lankester opened with a challenging presentation on the opportunities that are opening up to Christians in tackling global health issues. We are in a kairos moment, when God is creating opportunities for us as never before, and even the secular bodies are looking to Christian agencies as trailblazers – it is an opportunity for the Kingdom that we need to grasp. Seminars throughout the day covered the issues of taking families overseas, and returning to the UK, opportunities for using allied professional skills overseas, working short term and in disaster situations and handling professional development reaccreditation.
Another great encouragement was spending time in Geneva at the end of June with the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV & AIDS (UNAIDS) as their Programme Coordinating Board met. CMF had been invited as observers, and it was encouraging in particular to see that the abstinence and fidelity programmes many Christian agencies are using in the fight against the spread of HIV were given recognition within the strategies advocated by UNAIDS. It was also a good opportunity to meet up with the other faith-based agencies working with the UN system in tackling the HIV & AIDS pandemic. The UN agencies are increasingly waking up to the important role that faith based organisations (FBOs) can play in the fight against the pandemic, and in particular, the World Health Organisation is extremely keen to link up with Christian hospitals and healthcare agencies in the plan to get HIV antiretroviral therapy to the poorest people living with the virus. If you, or anyone you know is involved in any mission hospital or Christian agency involved in delivering health care in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe or Latin America, please get in contact with Mark Forshaw at the World Health Organisation on ForshawM@who.int
On the Allied Professions front, I had a very encouraging time with the Nurses’Christian Fellowship International (NCFI) in early July as their board met in Argyll. NCFI has been through a turbulent year, but as a network they are learning new ways of working, with much more responsibility devolved to the regional committees and national fellowships. Links between NCFI, CMF and ICMDA continue to be strong, and the potential for joint working in the future is great.
NCFI also helped to run a second European student nurses and midwives conference on ‘spiritual care from a Christian perspective’at the University of Glamorgan, and it was very encouraging to see Christian students and senior nurses and academics from Norway, the Netherlands, Malta and the UK come together to explore what is an increasingly recognised issue in caring for our patients.
In the UK, Christian Nurses and Midwives will be running a day conference on the topic of ‘Suffering, a Christian Nurse’s Perspective’on November 26 in South London. On 3-5 March 2006 CNM, with the Christian Therapists Network and the Therapy Students’ Christian Fellowship, will be running their annual weekend joint conference at the Quinta in Oswestry, with John Wyatt speaking on the topic ‘What Next… Developing a Biblical Response to Current Healthcare Trends’. Both should be very valuable events, so do encourage your Christian colleagues in nursing, midwifery and the allied professions to come along.
If you want more information on these or any other mission or allied profession related issue, email me at steve.fouch@cmf..org.uk.