It has to mean something…right?

Sandals - follow me - httpclub.dx.comforumsforums.dxthreadid.1249031As I think about the theme, “Come and see,” used for Siloam’s Community Health Immersion program, I am struck by what it means to be a follower of Jesus.  It is a journey more than a destination.  The Siloam Institute’s work with students and residents is largely to teach them to embrace the journey as they become practitioners of whole-person care.  

Below, I share an insightful reflection on John 1: (29-34) 35-42 by Reverend Chris Adams.

Chris writes…
Many years ago a friend taught me an interesting statistic about two words in our Bible.  Many of us call ourselves Christians to describe our faith.  We use this term with those we share faith with and also we use this term with others who do not.  The word Christian in Greek, Χριστιανός, only occurs in all the New Testament three (3) times.  That’s it.  Just three.

However, the word we see for the first time in John’s gospel today, in Greek μαθητής, occurs two hundred sixty three (263) times in the New Testament.  That’s a lot more than three.  For my friend, this had great significance.  “It has to mean something… Right?” he would say.

The word disciple means to follow, as in a pupil with a teacher.  It’s an action word.  In the ancient near east, often a disciple would literally walk so closely behind their teacher that the dust from the teacher’s sandals would get on the disciple.  Hence the reference to that by Jesus.  A Christian is simple a descriptor, a designation that one follows the faith so named.  The words are clearly related, but there is not the same sense of action.

In today’s lesson there is the urging of Jesus to “Come and See…”  If the disciples want to see what Jesus is doing and what he teaches, they must come and see.  There is no sense, at least in this story, that they will ever arrive at a destination or achieve a certain position of status.  They will simply be disciples, those that walk closely behind Jesus and follow wherever He goes.  They will become known as Christians to the world.

We too are known in that way.  However, I wonder if calling ourselves disciples instead of Christians sometimes would be more helpful to describe our way of life?  Ours is a journey, not a destination.  Our way is to follow our teacher, to seek out what the teacher is doing pointing others to Him.  Our way is not to be the teacher.  Our place is behind Jesus and not in front of Him.

It’s just two words that mean similar things to most people.  However perhaps the difference has great significance.  “It has to mean something…  Right?”

More on Reverend Chris Adams can be found at: 


Two untruths in medicine…

Sister Mary Diana Dreger, MD, meets with a patient at her south Nashville clinic.   Photo credit:

Sister Mary Diana Dreger, MD, meets with a patient at her south Nashville clinic.
Photo credit:


Sister Mary Diana Dreger, MD, spoke at the C3:Christ-Church-Culture conference on March 8, 2014.

To learn more about the untruths she spoke of and other great insights into merging faith and medical practice, click here to watch a video of her presentation.

Courageous Conversations with Sister Mary Diana Dreger, MD

If you are in Nashville this Saturday, consider participating in this the C3 conference focus on medicine.

Saturday, March 8 – Only $25

9:00am Keynote Presentation, Sr. Mary Diana Dreger

10:00am Courageous Conversations: Your choice!

1. How Shall We Reach Them? Health Care Access for the Poor and Immigrants.

Facilitated by Dr. Morgan Wills and Sr. Mary Diana Dreger, MD

2. Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: The Ethics and Urgencies of Invitro-Fertilization.

Facilitated by Dr. D. Joy Riley

3. Christ the Physician: The Physician/Nurse-Patient Relationship and Patient-Centered Care.

Facilitated by Dr. John Leonard and Dr. Wes Ely


10:50am Courageous Conversations: Your choice!

1. When Helping Hurts: Can We Do Global Health Wisely?

Facilitated by Dr. Doug Heimberger

2. Living v. Flourishing: Medicine and the Whole Person

Facilitated by Dr. Morgan Wills and Dr. Wes Ely

3. I Will Rise Again: Seeking Abundant Life in the Face of Death

Facilitated by Dr. John Shuster and Dr. D. Joy Riley

Click here for more information.

Instruments of God’s Love

For Valentine’s Day, it seems appropriate to feature Siloam’s core value on Love.

“Sharing the love of Jesus is an intentional process which begins with the Siloam board and staff knowing and experiencing Christ’s love themselves.  As a medical center dedicated to sharing this love in a variety of ways, we have a constant need for the grace and truth of the gospel to overflow from our lives to others.  As God pours out this love through us, it is vitally important to attribute it to the original source–the sacrificing love of Jesus as God in the flesh, and not just the goodness of our own human hearts. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  (1 John 4:10, Bible).  Consider how Jesus approached the healing of the blind man at the pool of Siloam in John chapter 9.  The man was physically healed by the touch of Jesus, but Jesus did not stop there.  Jesus pursued the more complete healing of the man by revealing to the man who He really was—the Messiah. It is our hope that Siloam patients will, in due time, both experience God’s love through our care and grow to know the Great Physician who provides it!”

Click here to see all of Siloam’s core values.

Mercy…brings hope

Core values have served Siloam well since its founding. One of Siloam’s founders, Mick Antanaitis, beautifully reflected on the core value of mercy before a meeting of Siloam’s Board of Directors. Here are his remarks.

Mercy is not a passive concept
Mercy is the active companion of compassion
Mercy is the energetic response of love
Mercy is not pity…It is regard moving in concert with compassion

Mick Antanaitis, one of Siloam's founders, continues to volunteer on Siloam's Board of Directors.  He is employed as a physician assistant at United Neighborhood Health Services and also is on the pastoral staff at Belmont Church.

Mick Antanaitis, one of Siloam’s founders, continues to volunteer on Siloam’s Board of Directors. He is employed as a physician assistant at United Neighborhood Health Services and also is on the pastoral staff at Belmont Church.

It is not mere empathy…it is kinetic
Mercy is not a feeling…it is an expenditure
Mercy is shown
Mercy is bestowed
Mercy is given
Mercy is extended
Mercy is provided

Those who need mercy are vulnerable…and they are unable to cover their vulnerability
They are exposed to pain…and suffering…and want…and damage…and destruction…loss
They have no recourse…or solution…or protection…or benefaction
And they fear the worst…because they are familiar with the worst
Mercy is a grace that provides a remedy…an option…an access to shelter from dire outcome

One of Jesus’ best friends (Peter) once wrote that we are to administer grace in a variety of forms
Mercy is one of the most profound and consequential forms of grace
Siloam is called to be an extender of that kind of grace…And in so doing,
To dispell fear…to quell anxiety…to provide a loving remedy to those who have no other remedy.

There was a time in Israel when 15,000 had died of a plague
Many tens of thousands more were already sick…
They had no medicine…they were all completely exposed…men, women, children, grandparents
And they were fearing the worst
It is not hard to imagine that many of the not-yet-sick were abandoning the sick
They were running away from the vulnerable and the unprotected…
in an attempt to preserve themselves

But one man ran right into the middle of the sickness and toward those who needed healing
Someone needed to bring the energy of mercy to the most vulnerable and the most needy
And so Aaron took the holy fire from the tabernacle,
and ran toward those who had no other hope
The Bible says that Aaron stood between the living & the dead…and the plague stopped (Numbers 16:48, Bible)

Siloam has been constituted to extend the energy of God’s mercy to those who have no other hope…
and to those who have no other option
We are administering grace in a profound way to the vulnerable…
To those who have nothing else to hold onto
Mercy…the work of Jesus…
Mercy…the providing of GOD’S love through our hands.

Click here to see Siloam’s core values.

Shocking and inhuman…

As I reflect on the tremendous impact Martin Luther King, Jr., has had on our lives – how he helped release the poor and underprivileged from oppression and helped release the privileged and wealthy from the bondage of arrogance, I am reminded of Jesus’ own mission statement:

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  Luke 4: 18-19

In health care for the underserved and despite the promises of the Affordable Care Act, the work before us is heavy.   *Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhuman.”

There remains a great deal of work to be done to release so many of our neighbors from the bondage of inadequate health care. At Siloam, we continue to explore how to care for our patients as whole persons… as part of a wholistic community.  We are guided by a faith in God that seeks to follow the guidance that Jesus gave us in Matthew 25: 40, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

*Spoken at a convention for the Medical Committee for Human Rights in 1966. Resource: Huffington Post

The Doctor is In…house calls on the CHI

Finally, after tromping around the largely-refugee complex in sweltering summer heat, we had found it: the residence of Siloam patient “Subba,” our first home-visit of the day.

Doctor Bag

Dr. Kristin Martel had briefed Caleb and me with some basic information about the patient, a 40 year-old Nepalese female with serious, debilitating depression that was beginning to manifest in bodily (specifically joint) pain. As we approached that unremarkable apartment building, though, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was woefully unprepared for this – my first home-visit. I was excited to observe an aspect of medicine largely lost to the American healthcare system, but what would it be like, I wondered, to enter the home of someone suffering from severe depression? How could I hope to do or say anything even remotely helpful?

When Subba didn’t answer Kristin’s persistent knocking, I began silently hoping that she wasn’t home so we could skip this whole affair. We waited for a few minutes, and eventually, a Nepalese man named “Poorba” came down the outdoor stairway. Kristin asked Poorba if he knew Subba, and he quickly went back upstairs and returned with Subba’s mother-in-law. She opened the apartment door for us, retrieved Subba from a back room, and invited us to sit with them indoors. Poorba accompanied us as an interpreter.

At first, our interactions with Subba didn’t seem to suggest that anything too out-of-the-ordinary was happening in her life. She didn’t smile and didn’t make eye contact with us, but then again, we had just barged into her house.

After a few minutes, Kristin asked about the medications she was taking. Subba continued staring at the floor, softly rubbing her elbows and knees. She told us that they hadn’t done anything for her pain, which was getting to be so severe that she couldn’t even leave the house anymore. We tried a few other avenues of conversation and eventually came to the topic of her husband.

“How is your husband doing?” Kristin had asked. “Does he work a lot?” My heart fell as I saw tears begin streaming down her face. Kristin moved next to her, put a hand on her back, and gently prompted further. Subba told us that he – her only source of income and support – was in the hospital, undergoing some sort of heart surgery. She felt alone, isolated and unsupported, in her pain.

The sorrowed stillness stretched for what seemed to be an eternity. The silence was broken by Caleb, who lightly inquired about a doll he saw propped up on a nearby table. Her face lifted slightly as she answered, “It’s mine.” She took us back to her bedroom and showed us a few other dolls and stuffed animals, of which she seemed proud. Any happiness they might have elicited sadly fled, though, when we asked about the great view her window afforded her of a children’s playground. The view only deepened her pain, for it reminded her of her longing to be outside.

It seemed that our time at her home would soon be wrapping up, so we prepared to finish with a brief prayer. Before we circled up for the final prayer, though, Kristin inquired about a piece of paper taped to the wall next to Subba’s bed. One of the pictures on the sheet of paper triggered memories of an Eastern Religions class I had taken in college, so I wasn’t surprised to hear the mother-in-law tell us that it was a Hindu prayer. And in that moment, God made His presence known by sealing me with a question I knew I had to ask: “Do those gods answer your prayers?” She said no, they don’t; she prays, but she still feels alone. And there it was, as simple as that – a door to hope. God’s Spirit moved, and we told her why we hope and pray in the name of Jesus.

Afterward, we asked if we could pray for her in Jesus’ name, and she invited us to do so. God demonstrated His wisdom and faithfulness when Poorba – this random guy we bumped into while waiting at Subba’s door – told us that he was actually a pastor and would be happy to translate our prayer. We prayed over her, for the alleviation of her pain, for the health of her husband, and against the spiritual darkness that might seek dominion over her house. Her mother-in-law led us into a second room, and we prayed again for the household.

Leaving her apartment was one of the most saddening yet hopeful experiences I’ve ever had. My heart went out to this poor woman who longed for love, support, and alleviation from her emotional and physical pain. Yet as we left, I knew that God was present and that He would finish the work we had seen Him begin. I may never know the end of her story – whether or not she experiences physical healing and spiritual liberation – but of this I am certain: He heard our prayers that day, and He will continue to relentlessly pursue the heart of His beloved child.

Doezal, James- CHI 2013James is a participant in Siloam’s Community Health Immersion.