As part of REVIVE Sunday 2020, we asked some keyworkers within the Co-Mission network to share their story - to hear about the challenges and encouragements they’ve faced, as they seek to live distinctively for Christ on the frontline and opportunities they’ve had to share the gospel with those around them.
RACHEL OWUSU-ANKOMAH’S STORY
(Rachel attends Stockwell Baptist Church)
I have the dual privilege of being a junior doctor and also working for those on the front line of healthcare as Head of Student Ministries at the Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF). Let me give you a snapshot of how CMF has responded to the Covid-19 crisis.
Founded in 1949 (a year after the NHS), CMF is a membership organisation consisting of over 5,000 doctors, nurses, midwives and students of those disciplines. We exist to help these Christian healthcare workers to live and speak for Jesus Christ. This is not just a mandate for the UK and Ireland but a global one; we have over 300 members working overseas at any one time.
In early March we realised that healthcare professionals were going to be facing an increase in work intensity and pressure. We recognised too there would be situations where their faith and healthcare work would collide, whether that be in the midst of ethical issues and decision-making, the reality of suffering or the sting of death.
Within weeks we set up a pastoral care and wellbeing service that is open to all healthcare professionals in the UK and Ireland, Christian or not. This is a chance to access peer support, talk through issues faced at work and be prayed for if people wish. So many have found it invaluable being able to talk and pray with fellow believers in healthcare about the realities of day-to-day life in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Many final-year nursing, midwifery and medical students have had their exams and graduations brought forward and found themselves propelled on to the front lines earlier than expected. At the end of April we ran Question and Answer sessions for these young graduates, where they could glean the wisdom of those who have gone before them. We linked them up with other Christian healthcare professionals in the regions and hospitals they are working at. We also ran a thanksgiving and dedication service for our new doctors; it was a chance for them to dedicate their skills and careers to the Lord and commit to using them to serve him.
In addition we gave our members and wider society an opportunity to hear from different Christian healthcare workers on the front line, not just in the UK and Ireland but throughout the world, and from ITU nurses to 111 advisors, psychiatrists to pharmacists, missionary midwives to medical students. These forty voices from the front line – released every weekday during lockdown – are a chance for insight, a call to prayer and a wonderful pointer to the present and future hope we have in Christ Jesus.
I’ll leave you with these words from ‘A’, a consultant who articulates beautifully the experiences of so many Christians working in healthcare at this time:
‘I say to [colleagues], “You know when I read my Bible and hear about how Jesus lived, and his sacrificial life and his selfless giving, some of the stuff I have seen from you guys has reminded me of Jesus…” It’s been amazing saying that to people. Some folk have just laughed and said, “Oh for goodness sake, keep your Jesus out of it.” But we’ve have also had some fantastic conversations about Jesus…. I worked most of Easter weekend and we had some amazing conversations about the fact that Jesus is alive and God is with us by his Spirit because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s been amazing just to be able to have those conversations with people, and they came so naturally because of the bizarre circumstance we found ourselves in, surrounded by death.’
You can find more about these and many more resources – including blogs, podcasts and opportunities to join with us in prayer – on our Covid-19 resources page: CMF COVID-19 Resources. This includes Ashley Stewart, from The Globe Church and Associate Head of Student Ministries at CMF, sharing 10 things to pray for Christian healthcare workers.
To hear more stories from frontline keyworkers, watch the roundtable filmed discussion here. This story was collected with others as part of REVIVE Sunday – visit co-mission.org/revive for other content for this event.