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This issue marks Journal of Christian Nursing's 20th anniversary. Since spring 1984, we have been trying to define and encourage Christian nursing- helping nurses see nursing through the eyes of faith. This issue of JCN also concludes my tenure as editor, so it seems appropriate to focus on outcomes.

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What makes Christian nursing different from any other kind of nursing? Can we measure the outcomes of Christian nursing? Have we accomplished our purpose for JCN?


According to most traditional nurse historians, nursing grew out of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.1 If this is so, then we need to look at the ministry goals and outcomes of Jesus.


According to the Scriptures, Jesus expressed a three-fold mission:2


* healing the sick


* restoring the relationship between God and his people, and


* restoring people to the human community.



In today's nursing, we'd call that whole person care-attending to the physical, spiritual and psychosocial needs of those in our care. In surveying the healing accounts in the Gospels and Acts, it appears that Jesus and the apostles would have no trouble being accredited as effective health care providers. Everyone who sought healing was physically cured. In almost all of the situations, the biblical accounts indicate that the healed persons were restored to their communities as functioning members. Lepers came out of their legally imposed isolation. Blind beggars went back to their families. The disabled got up and walked home.


Interestingly, not all of those healed were reported as having their spiritual needs met. Sometimes the issue just didn't come up, such as when Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law of a high fever (Mt 8:14-15) or when he restored a Roman soldier's severed ear (Lk 22:47-51). However, when Jesus healed the ten lepers, although all ten were cured of leprosy, only one came back to thank him. To that man Jesus replied, "Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well" (Lk 17:11-19).There was a fuller dimension to his healing that the other nine did not experience. See for a full overview of the healing accounts in Scripture.


So what does this mean for Christian nursing? We, too, have a three-fold ministry. Excellent physical care ranks high in the mix, but it is incomplete without good psychosocial support and spiritual care. We won't cure every client physically. Our outcomes may be even less successful when it comes to patching up families and communities. Spiritual outcomes may feel pretty discouraging, but once in a while God uses us in amazing ways. When that happens, we are usually taken by surprise.


The ultimate outcome of good spiritual care is always restoration of a person's relationship with God. That may include better physical and emotional health, but we may not see those results.


Spiritual healing usually does include reconciliation in human relationships, the ability to forgive others and accept forgiveness, to love and to be loved. It brings fresh meaning and purpose to life and a sense of hope.


In this issue you will meet some reluctant evangelists who experienced Christian nursing at its best. Their stories will surprise and delight you. The outcomes speak for themselves.


As Christian nurses, we continue to be Christ's heart and hands in today's hurting world.


Although I will miss editing JCN, I turn it over into good hands. Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner has a heart for the Lord and for nursing. She is bright, perceptive and prayerful. You will not be disappointed with coming issues.


My own efforts will now turn toward the aspects of my job as Nurses Christian Fellowship publications director that have been sitting on the back burner for the past fourteen years-developing NCF's full line of publications and directing the new NCF Press. I will also supervise Kathy in her work with JCN but give her the freedom to make her unique mark on JCN. Please welcome, encourage and support Kathy. She is here to serve you and Christian nursing.-JAS


1See, for example, Patricia Donahue, Nursing, The Finest Art, second edition (St. Louis: Mosby, 1996):p. 75. [Context Link]


2For Jesus' ministry goals see Mt 9:12-13; Lk 4:18-19; Lk 10:8-10 and Jn 10:10. [Context Link]