Preview of the October 2014 Issue
The church as health clinic
Congregations pitch in to help fill the gaps in medical care.
by Cary Estes
She was the type of person who often slips through the cracks of society: no insurance, more than $10,000 in medical bills, and blood pressure that had soared into stroke range. She could not afford to be treated, but without treatment she could not continue working as a housekeeper—which meant that she wouldn’t be able to earn the money to pay for treatment.
The woman desperately needed a helping hand in order to find a healing hand. And she managed to receive that assistance from Lois Bazhaw, a nurse who belongs to Faith Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. The woman had come to Faith Presbyterian for the church’s food pantry, and while there explained her situation to Bazhaw.Continue reading
A Christian take on the Affordable Care Act
Presbyterians navigate a thorny debate to find out how God’s children can best get access to healthcare.
by Chris Herlinger
Deborah Wade feigns that she is no expert on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or the US healthcare system. But within minutes, she is speaking as a savvy, empathetic, and passionate observer of both—their limits, problems, and possibilities.
Before the ACA was enacted, she says, the healthcare system “seemed too often to be a money-making machine for doctors, clinics, and hospitals,” undergirded by costly tests, drugs, and operations. “It was a way to make money rather than a system for helping people improve their health.”
A member of Anchorage Presbyterian Church near Louisville, Wade works as a program coordinator for innovation and community engagement at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry. Before that, she worked as a manager of outpatient HIV/AIDS medical clinics in Alabama and Kentucky, and that gave Wade something close to a front-row seat for some of the last quarter century’s spirited debates on the US healthcare system.
“It’s not perfect, but at least something got done,” Wade said of the ACA, also known, often critically, as Obamacare.
Still, she feels the country is far from achieving what would help provide optimal care—a patient-centered approach.Continue reading
How making space for God can reduce stress
by Joanie Friend
“And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?”—Luke 12:25
Sitting across from Carol (whose name has been changed for privacy), I notice her shift nervously in her chair. As the faith community nurse at Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland, I already know some of her story.
A middle-aged woman, she should be in the prime of her life. Instead, she seems tired and beaten down. Her father, who is 89, is in the beginning stages of dementia. Her mother, who died recently, had been chronically ill. A registered nurse, Carol has felt an acute need to help care for them both. To make matters worse, her husband has a serious heart condition, and she’s caring also for her young adult children, one of whom is engaged to be married. All the time she’s spent caring for multiple generations of family has led to missed workdays and lost jobs, leaving Carol and her family with lots of debt and little money.
I listen as Carol, shaking, recounts source after source of stress. She is one of many who now comprise the “sandwich generation”—working adults caring simultaneously for children (many of whom are young adults returning home after college) and parents or even grandparents. As life expectancy extends and adult children can’t find adequate work, the sandwich generation is growing, bringing with it unprecedented stress.Continue reading
One in Mission
‘Strengthening the body of Christ’
Collaborative approach helps mission coworkers bring healing to Madagascar.
by Linda Valentine
Elizabeth Turk was raised in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which sensitized her to the major health threats that affect the people of Africa. Now a nurse with a master’s degree in public health, she has served since 1996 with her husband, Dan, as a mission coworker in Madagascar. There she shares the fruits of her training—coupled with her unshakable faith—to help bring hope and healing to a country in crisis. The Malagasy people still suffer amid the unstable political conditions and abject poverty that became much worse after a coup toppled the country’s government in 2009.
“Sometimes all we’ve done is sit and cry with people, or sit and pray,” says Elizabeth. “Sometimes that’s really what we’re called by God to do, not just to produce results.”Continue reading
HIV/AIDS: a persisting stigma
by Susan Barnett
In 1981, a pivotal medical event occurred. A mysterious disease appeared and was given the name HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Like polio and Ebola, HIV evoked fear, and we feared those who had it. In 1981, we did not know a lot about HIV. But now we do.
HIV is the virus that may lead to AIDS, or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. Not having an immune system makes it easier to get sick and harder to fight illnesses.
Not all of the 1 million people in the United States who have HIV will develop AIDS. Depending on when diagnosis and treatment occurs, those with HIV/AIDS can live fairly normal lives, have children, work, and worship.
Yet in spite of medical advances and community education efforts, discrimination or stigma remains attached to those living with HIV/AIDS. For the most part, this discrimination stems from lack of knowledge of HIV and how it is contracted.Continue reading
Faith and Culture
The second half of life
in an age-anxious church
Focusing on the short term shortchanges all of us.
by Rachel M. Srubas
Shortly before I turned 50 earlier this year, I dreamed I heard an authoritative voice announcing the death of someone important. “And now,” the announcer intoned, “Year Two has begun.”
I woke up and thought, well, that was pretty transparent. Recently I’d been reading about what psychologist Carl Jung calls “the two halves of life.” In the first half of life, people tend to emphasize accomplishing, building, striving, competing, and problem solving, often while feeling as if something is missing. The second half of life can involve a shift toward deeper listening and reflecting, humbler wisdom, bolder compassion, and greater personal fulfillment. My dream had just confirmed what my mirror was already telling me. The second half of my life was officially under way.Continue reading
1001 New Worshiping Communities
‘People with a heart’
Host congregation and a 1001 health insurance grant provide help after tragedy.
by Paul Seebeck
As Elbis Hernandez can attest, the kindness of a congregation, backed by the resources of a national church, can transform lives.
“It’s one of the reasons I’m still alive,” he says.
In July 2012 Hernandez received devastating news: his youngest son, 17-year-old Job Hernandez, had been killed when a car going the wrong way on an interstate near Raleigh, North Carolina, plowed into a minivan that Job was riding in. The minivan driver, Job’s 21-year-old brother, Natanael Hernandez, was seriously injured. The car driver died. Her blood-alcohol level was three times above the legal limit.
The news knocked Elbis Hernandez into a downward spiral of grief. But that’s when Milner Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh stepped in.Continue reading
Fear in the land of imagination
A sermon about Exodus, Ferguson, and children refugees from Central America
By Patrick David Heery, editor
Two weeks ago, on August 24, 2014, I preached the following sermon at my home church in Cincinnati, Ohio. You can listen to the sermon here. It was important that I preach this sermon. It was important that I preach it in Cincinnati. Because years ago, when I was in the 11th grade, a white police officer shot yet another young unarmed African American man in the back. The shooting ripped the city apart, revealing deep ruptures that had been with the city for a very long time. The subsequent work to bring about justice and healing—and the real failure of that work—is what propelled me into ministry. It was in my anger, grief, and disillusionment in the political process that I heard God's call. And so here I was returning to Cincinnati to preach a guest sermon scheduled more than six months before I had ever heard of Ferguson, and I knew what the subject had to be.Continue reading
This special issue is a must-read for everyone who wants to better understand young adults and engage them in worship, education, and service.
Decluttering for Christmas, the new Advent Calendar from Presbyterians Today, is now available for pre-order!
NEW THIRD EDITION. Presbyterians Today’s special issue and guidebook — “Welcome to the Presbyterian Church!” — is a wonderful introduction and overview of all things Presbyterian.