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Salt & Light

Just after Mary Berg Barkman graduated from nursing school 45 years ago, she attended her first conference with Nurses Christian Fellowship. It was the first time she received training on caring for spiritual needs.

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"I grew up in the church but was hungry for how to integrate faith with nursing," Mary recalls. Mary later joined the NCF staff team to encourage and equip nurses and nursing students to deepen their relationship with God.


Over the years, Mary has learned that being in a caregiving profession and learning to have balance in life is essential. Today, Mary continues to appreciate what NCF contributes to the profession of nursing by offering a Christian viewpoint on ethical issues, suffering, death, and the spiritual care of patients.


"Nurses who are Christians need help integrating their faith into their profession. Evangelism methods taught within churches are not appropriate for bedside nursing. Secular schools talk about religion, yet there may be obstacles to sharing faith," Mary said. "Nurses need to know that within the context of the nursing process, spiritual sharing can be appropriate."


Mary has seen that a simple question, such as, What gives you strength to face this illness/crisis, can open spiritual discussion and assessment of patient needs, more than learning what church the person belongs to. "We know that church affiliation doesn't tell you about spiritual practice."


Knowing how to assess a person's spiritual health and give appropriate spiritual care is a hallmark of good nursing. Find NCF resources on spiritual care at


Benefits of NCF Membership

As a member of Nurses Christian Fellowship, you are connected to a broad network of Christian nurses devoted to serving God in healthcare.


Successful nurses know the importance of lifelong learning and investing in their professional growth, as well as investing in nursing as an active member of professional organizations.


NCF members are more than individual members; they partner in what God is doing to prepare and equip Christian nursing students and nurses through NCF. You'll find a few of these God-at-work stories in JCN.


What's your story of God at work in your life and practice? We'd love to hear from you about your journey in faith and nursing. Send an email to and let us know how we can support and pray for you as a valued member of NCF.


Find more member benefits at


From the NCF Director

Recently, I was drawn to Luke 1, the story of how Jesus and his forerunner John came to us. As always, God had a lesson for me from his Word.

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At first glance, the responses of the priest Zacharias and the virgin Mary to the angel Gabriel seem similar. Zacharias had prayed for a son, but he was childless. He'd been chosen by lot to burn incense in the temple (a once-in-a-lifetime priestly privilege!). Inside the Holy Place, Gabriel came and told Zacharias, "You're going to have a son!" Zach's response: "How can I be certain of this?" (v. 18).


Six months into Zacharias's wife's pregnancy, Gabriel came to Mary. He told her she too would have a son. Mary's response: "How will this be?" (v. 34).


Both Zacharias and Mary were faithful God followers (vv. 6, 30). Zacharias and his wife were old and infertile (v. 7). Mary knew she was a virgin. Both asked Gabriel (and God), "How will the impossible happen?" Zacharias is chided and made mute; Mary is offered a wonderful explanation. Why the difference?


It seems Zacharias wanted proof (wasn't Gabriel proof enough?). He did not believe God could do the impossible (v. 20). Mary wanted understanding. She believed and wanted to know the plan (v. 38).


When God shows up and asks me or NCF to join in something impossible, of great risk and radical change, pray we ask for the plan and say, "We are servants of the Lord; may it be done according to your word!"


-Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, PhD, RN NCF National Director Editor in Chief, Journal of Christian Nursing



Hope is vital to recovery and healing. As Christian nurses who believe God is the source of hope, are we always hopeful?

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Sometimes our ability to feel hopeful and instill hope in others needs refreshing. God uses nurses of faith and his Word, the Bible, to encourage us in our spiritual journey and help us discover new and effective ways to bring hope to others.


Plan now to connect with other nurses by attending an inspiring conference next summer, Infusing Hope in Nursing: A Christian Perspective. Don't miss this opportunity to refresh your hope and ability to bring the hope of Christ to others!


SAVE-THE-DATE: Join other nurses, educators, and students July 19-22, 2018, for an international conference in Azusa, California. Participants from the Caribbean and North America, the CANA region of Nurses Christian Fellowship International (NCFI), will gather to explore the topic, Infusing Hope in Nursing.


Christian nurse leaders will provide practical, biblical insights on current nursing issues. Seminars on leadership, evidence-based spiritual care, and other topics will inspire and encourage those who attend. A daily immersion in Scripture will be led by Alec Hill, former president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Alec will share from his personal experiences receiving nursing care as a recent cancer patient.


Serving on the planning committee is Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner and Jane Hall, director and former director of NCF/USA. "This conference provides a unique experience of community for Christian nurses through worship, prayer, education, and exploring God's Word together. We will be built up and refreshed as we unite in exploring God's purposes for us as nurse," Jane said.


Mark your calendars now and prepare to deepen your faith, learn about frontline issues for nurses, and expand your cross-cultural connections! Find out more at


On Campus

It is midsemester for nursing students and the tests and exams are piling on, clinical is wearing, and the end is nowhere in sight. They wonder if they are going to make it through this semester, much less nursing school. Students often feel the pressure to appear competent and capable, so they try to keep feelings of doubt to themselves.

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One of the things I love most about NCF student ministry is that it provides a safe space on campus for students and faculty to let down their guard and be vulnerable with one another.


I have seen students break down in tears during an NCF meeting as they talked about stresses. I have witnessed nurse educators ask for prayer for difficult situations in their lives and careers. And I have watched where in NCF meetings, students and faculty surrounded each other and prayed for God's peace. "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn" (Romans 12:15, NIV). People in these NCF chapters are living out this verse!


NCF chapter creates these safe spaces because they recognize this is what Jesus Christ invites them to do. Because students' identity is found in Jesus, and not in their academic achievements, they have the freedom to be open with one another. They can boldly invite non-Christian classmates to meetings, confident that they will encounter the grace and love of God through the NCF community.


Take a moment to pray for NCF student leaders as they strive to create safe spaces on campus. Pray also that God will grant boldness to invite non-Christian friends to come and experience their grace-filled community. Ask God to bring many students into a relationship with him this year!


-Timothy Lin, MA, NCF Student Ministries Director and Senior Area Director in Kansas with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA.

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