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ss triple helix - spring 2024,  standing on the shoulders of giants

standing on the shoulders of giants

Welcome to the CMF 75th anniversary edition of Triple Helix! In case you missed it in all our other correspondence, on 22 October 2024, it will officially be 75 years since the Christian Medical Fellowship was formed. My article on page 18 tells the story.

Looking back may feel a little self-indulgent, a bit of back-patting to make us feel good. Yet celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and other important milestones can be a wonderful opportunity to recall treasured memories and important lessons.

Nor are we simply looking backwards in this edition. We want to look forward and see where God may be leading us. But, as Isaac Newton once said, we can only see as far as we do because 'we stand on the shoulders of giants'. [1] There are many fascinating and far-seeing people in our organisational history: luminaries such as Golding Bird, [2] William Burns Thompson, [3] George Saunders, [4] Harold Moody, Mary Scharlieb, [5] Douglas Johnson, Keith Sanders (see articles on both of these former CEOs in this edition), and many, many more. We honour them for all they did, and even more, we honour the Lord for all he did through them.

Over the last couple of years, I have been sharing their stories and the lessons we can learn from them in this magazine. But can a 75-year-old institution have anything new to say and do?

I am reminded, from Genesis 12:1-7, how God called the 75-year-old, childless Abram and his wife Sarai to travel from their home in Haran to far-off Canaan. Over the next 50 years, Abram got a new name (Abraham), a new country, two sons, and a covenant with the one true God. He became the father of a nation into which we and billions of others have been grafted, to this very day.[6]

If God could have a incredible future in store for Abraham at 75, I feel confident that he can still have one in store for us at CMF.

There are many changes and challenges ahead. In the last decade, we've already seen nurses and midwives join the fellowship (see Liz Capper and Steve Fouch's article on page 12). The family of CMF continues to grow and diversify!

At the same time, the British health services are in crisis like never before. The global health emergency continues to suffer from the after effects of COVID-19, and the poorest nations struggle to provide accessible healthcare. War rages in Ukraine, the Middle East and many other places, with all the implications for the health and wellbeing of those caught up in it.[7] New technologies, from artificial intelligence to genetic engineering, are reshaping health and social care in unprecedented ways. And law changes on abortion and assisted suicide look increasingly likely to happen in the next few years. The list goes on and on.

How will we respond as Christian health professionals - prophetically, wisely, graciously, and truthfully? CMF has unique opportunities to help Christians unite, speak, and act in all of these and the many other challenges within God's world. But we can only do this through our members, like you, supporting us in prayer, time, expertise, and finance.

One of the greatest lessons we have learned from those who have gone before us is to invest in the next generation - students and juniors are not just our future but our present. We also need to hold on to the truth of the gospel and keep faithful to Scripture in all our work and thinking. But first and foremost, we have to listen - to the Lord, to one another, and even to those we disagree with. We need to find fresh and helpful ways to meet with and encourage one another. And we must also be agile - ready to adapt to new circumstances and respond to new challenges and opportunities with a clear and consistent vision of where God is leading us. For, like Abraham, we are ultimately looking ahead to an eternal destination, built by God himself.[8]

I am excited to explore the future into which God is leading us. I hope you will join us on that journey!

Accessed 4/4/24
  1. Newton I. Letter to Robert Hooke (1675) in Cohen. B [ed] Isaac Newton's Papers and Letters on Natural Philosophy and Related Documents. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1978
  2. Pickering M. lessons from the archive 1: Golding Bird and the Christian Medical Association. Triple Helix. Spring 2022,
  3. Pickering M. lessons from the archive 2: the birth of modern medical mission. Triple Helix. Autumn 2022,
  4. Pickering M. lessons from the archive 4: George Saunders. Triple Helix. Summer 2023.
  5. Pickering M. lessons from the archive 5: the Medical Prayer Union and Livingstone College. Triple Helix. Winter 2023.
  6. Galatians 3:7-9
  7. Bricknell M. Religion, morality, ethics, and war. Triple Helix. Spring 2021.
  8. Hebrews 11:8-10
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