by Megan K. Mertz
“Any time you have a crisis, whether a health issue or something else, the potential is there to cement your relationship with Christ or have it erode,” said Parish Nurse Kim Meyer, who leads a Christian support group for people struggling with cancer.
In fall 2012, Meyer introduced the faith-based program Cancer Companions to her congregation, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Springfield, Ill. The program helps cancer patients and their loved ones address spiritual issues as they undergo treatment.
“Some people think [a cancer diagnosis] is some kind of punishment from God. But God doesn’t punish us. God forgives us,” Meyer said. “Those feelings can be a huge part of the cancer journey for the Christian.”
Meyer’s work with these support groups addresses the whole person, blending professional nursing and spiritual caregiving in her position as parish nurse. Around the Synod, more than 1,000 parish nurses serve in similar roles under the coordination of LCMS Life and Health Ministries. The ministry also encourages the vocation of parish nursing around the globe, recently training 17 indigenous parish nurses in our partner church, the India Evangelical Lutheran Church.
In addition to parish nursing, Life and Health Ministries upholds the sanctity of life by supporting prolife programs and organizing health and nutrition projects for some Mercy Medical Team volunteer Carl Jurgens, M.D., diagnoses a patient at a rural field clinic sponsored by LCMS Life and Health Ministries in Madagascar. of the world’s most marginalized people. The Lutheran Malaria Initiative, which is working to help end malaria deaths in Africa, is a significant example of the coordination of efforts that takes place. The ongoing sending of Mercy Medical Teams to provide medical care and health education around the world is another example. Thanks to the generosity of donors, Mercy Medical Teams have been able to supply more than $1 million in prescriptions and over-the-counter medications to people without access to basic medical care.
“Everything we do supports the sanctity of life and encourages care for health and wholeness of the whole person, both spiritual and physical.”
“Mercy work is essential to our life together and our witness as the body of Christ,” said Maggie Karner, director of Life and Health Ministries. “Everything we do supports the sanctity of life and encourages care for health and wholeness of the whole person, both spiritual and physical.”
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