Lilly Intern Spotlight: Mishann & Stephen Ministry at First United Presbyterian, Fayetteville

From the UCM October Newsletter:

Mishann Luedders felt a calling to a big committment in her Lilly internship.  She committed to 50 hours of training as a Stephen Minister and is ready to share the skills she has learned by serving as a Stephen Minister while continuing her studies at the U of A.  Jan Butin, Co-Pastor of First United Presbyterian, Fayetteville, has thoroughly enjoyed having Mishann as part of this Stephen Ministry training class and feels blessed by her participation.  Mishann will be commissioned as a Stephen Minister at the 11:00am service at FUPC on November 20th.  All are welcome!   (More below)

Welcoming This Opportunity:

  • Mishann chose Stephen Ministry as her internship because she is hoping to gain some skills that can be incorporated into a future career as a nurse. She notes the realization that our healthcare system tends to focus on the patient’s illness instead of the patient as a whole, and is hoping to get some insight on how to go beyond the normal duties as a nurse to accomplish this holistic caring. She also sees it as a unique way to help people and give back to the community.
  • Jan said that it was Susan Rose who let me know that there was a student at UCM who was very interested in taking the Stephen Ministry training.  Jan enthusiastically notes: “Of course, I was super-excited to hear this!  We love having all ages involved and it’s not every day that a university student wants to add 50 hours of intense training in listening skills and Christian caregiving to an already-full semester!” Susan and Mishann checked to be sure that this training fit the Lilly grant criteria.  Jan knew this training would be valuable to Mishann for a lifetime and went on to note:  “From our first meeting, it was clear that she is a dedicated and disciplined student.  She has stayed on top of the reading, attendance, and participation that Stephen Ministry requires.  I’ve been moved by how she finds ways each week to immediately integrate these new skills into her nursing major.  She told me recently that it has helped her refine her thinking to health coaching as a possible career.”

Highlights:

  • Mishann, through this internship with Stephen Ministries, has gained a larger insight to her relationships with others and her relationship with God. She has learned how to treat the whole person and not just the issue. One of her favorite topics discussed so far is called the Mud Hole. It is when a person is having a life crisis and is stuck in a figurative “mudhole.” The ideal way to help these people is to be an empathizer and show them a way out, however Mishann says she has found: “I often over-identify with the person and find myself in the mud hole with them, unable to help.”
  • Jan notes that this is a very diverse and compassionate Stephen Ministry group—students, a couple of medical professionals, moms, dads, retired folks, a person with pastoral training, people of all ages who have faced various life challenges at one time or another and have developed a deep desire to care for others as Christ cares for us.  Jan has enjoyed seeing the different generations learn from and connect with each other.  Jan shared that Mishann is always engaged in the discussions and assimilates the material on the spot. Some of the richest learning for the group include:
    • Lots of times, we’re inclined to sympathize to such a degree that we over-identify with a person’s needs and cease to be helpful caregivers. As we hold on to Christ, we can empathize with another’s need and be conveyors of hope.
    • We aren’t advice-givers. When someone has a need, our first inclination might be to “fix” it, but help can come from within when you have someone who listens carefully to you, prays with you, and doesn’t tell you what to do.
    • Although grief, depression, and suicide are difficult to discuss, important resources are available as we “weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice.”
    • In our technological world, care-giving has become more than phone calls and visits. Although we don’t substitute texting, Skype or Face Time for in-person conversation, these are ways to be briefly connected to our care receivers.
    • Stephen Ministry emphasizes the continued importance of focused, attentive, face-to-face care. Stephen Ministry, with its spiritual dimension, is “whole person” care. We learn to ask, “Where is God in this for you?”

 Looking Forward:

  • Mishann is most excited about being able to bring what she has learned from Stephen Ministries to nursing school and to her career. She has also considered looking in to a career that is more like a health coach, rather than the traditional nurse. Mishann notes that: “health coaches provide more in depth care to their patients who are usually those who have frequent visits to the hospital and use most of the hospitals resources. They often visit the patients home and make sure they adhere and understand their treatment. I am also excited to put into practice and help anyone I can with these new skills I have learned.”
  • Jan is very excited to share that Mishann will be commissioned as a Stephen Minister at the 11:00am service at FUPC on November 20. Everyone is invited!! Jan is ready to equip Mishann with opportunities to care for people while she continues her studies. Jan looks forward to the encouragement and hope that Mishann will plant in the lives of those who need her through her attentive, compassionate care.  Jan concludes by sharing: “We never know when we will encounter difficult crossroads and it’s great to know that there are those who want to listen and be of service in Christ’s name.  I also look forward to continuing the friendship we’ve formed through Stephen Ministry training.  That has been an added blessing.”

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UCM September 2016 Newsletter