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My Christian life: WELS nurse lives out faith through her vocation

A WELS nurse explains how her vocation allows her to share her faith and show love to those in need.

Jesus calls us to follow his example by living lives of service and putting others’ needs before our own just as he did. As God’s people, we live out this calling in many different vocations. While their work is often behind-the-scenes, nurses provide physical, emotional, and spiritual care to patients. They play a role in both preventing and easing the suffering of the people God so dearly loves.

Allison Brown in Lusaka, Zambia. She traveled there with her nursing class from Wisconsin Lutheran College.

Allison Brown, a member at Atonement, Milwaukee, decided she wanted to become a nurse when she was in eighth grade. “My faith played a very important role in my decision to become a nurse,” she shares. Brown thought often about the sheep and the goats Jesus talked about. He tells his people who faithfully served their neighbors, “I was sick and you looked after me. . . Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:36,40).

Brown studied nursing at Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, and received her degree in 2017. She says that one of the most shaping experiences of her college career was going to Lusaka, Zambia, with her nursing class. “We spent over two weeks observing medical practices and procedures in clinics and hospitals, learning the culture, and providing health education in schools and villages,” says Brown. “It made me so thankful for things that we take for granted: hospital linens, IV fluid, pain medications, privacy for patients, ease of access to healthcare, clean water, electricity, advanced medicine. The blessings are endless.”

Letting her light shine

After graduation Brown started her career at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. She moved on to work in the Cardiovascular Operating Room (CVOR) at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee.

Each of Brown’s days looks a little different when working in the operating room. She works closely with patients, surgeons, and anesthesiologists during various heart and lung surgeries. “One of the roles I play in my department is in our holding area for patients before they are taken into the operating room. They can be in our holding area anywhere from ten minutes up to a couple of hours,” says Brown. “I love working there because it gives me time to connect with the patients and have great conversations.”

“Nursing comes with physical and emotional sacrifices, but how humbling to know that God blesses others through our work!”

According to Brown, Christian nurses are often presented with unique opportunities to show God’s love to patients who are suffering through some of the darkest days of their lives. “Facing heart and lung surgeries puts life into perspective for a lot of patients, and I have been able to witness in discussions about faith and share passages from the Bible,” she says.

Nurses also can share their faith with coworkers who may not have the peace of God’s love to help them cope with what they see on a daily basis. “I feel that having a positive, cheerful, and willing attitude sets Christian nurses apart and makes us look different to our coworkers,” Brown reflects. “And I think that our words and actions as Christians open the door for conversations about why we are different.” As believers in Jesus, nurses and godly workers across all vocations can “let [their] light shine before others, that they may see [their] good deeds and glorify [their] Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Keeping an attitude of joy

There are days, Brown admits, when it is very difficult to keep a positive attitude and show love to others. “It can be challenging to be a Christian nurse in a volatile field that can sometimes feel suffocating and even toxic,” she reflects. “No matter what our vocation, all of us face problems in the workplace, whether it is with coworkers, superiors, customers, patients, or all of the above. We deal with unkind words, harsh judgments, and even loneliness being in a secular workplace.” While this is true, God tells us this is to be expected. He doesn’t promise his people an easy life.

During these times Brown likes to remember 1 Peter 2:20,21: “If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” Brown thinks that, for her, the best way to witness in these difficult situations is “to be the light of Christ by having an attitude of joy and love, to show compassion to everyone I encounter, and to care for the needs of others without a second thought.”

“Without a second thought.” Nurses often face long hours in draining conditions, but they do it with this attitude. “What nurses may consider a minor task—a short conversation, the squeeze of a hand—can make a huge difference in a patient’s life,” Brown says. “It is difficult to watch people suffer, and that can end up taking an emotional toll. Nursing comes with physical and emotional sacrifices, but how humbling to know that God blesses others through our work!”

Author: Laura Schaefer
Volume 107, Number 10
Issue: October 2020

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This entry is part 33 of 49 in the series my christian life

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