Lunch Discussions at Siloam

Whole-person care is a word that gets thrown around inside the walls of our clinic daily.  Inspired by the way that Jesus healed in the Gospels, we recognize that when a person is ill, more is ill than only the physical denominators of their health, but their feelings, emotions, heart and spirit also play a part.

Dan Fountain illustrated this brilliantly in an address he gave to the World Congress of the ICMDA in Durban in July 1998, drawing from a case study found in Mark 5: 25-34 – the healing of the woman with the hemorrhage.

Considered unclean by the social structure that surrounded her, her daily condition was one of abandonment, rejection, and despair.  Her life became defined by her illness and her hope for a cure had long been extinguished.  Yet hope was awakened the day that she heard stories about this man named Jesus and the accounts of the way He healed people.  With no other direction out, she knew that she needed to somehow encounter this man for her healing.

One day she hears that He’s passing through her town and she steps outside of the boundaries of what was allowed by her society.  She, unclean, reaches out as Jesus walks by and touches the hem of His garment, instantly healed.

Painting by Howard Lyon

Painting by Howard Lyon

Dan Fountain continues the narrative: “He [Jesus] knew she had been physically healed. We doctors are usually delighted when we have healed someone physically. Could Jesus not be content with that? No, because the woman herself had not been healed; her life had not yet been restored. Jesus wanted to heal her as a whole person, so he called her back to him. As she lay prostrate on the ground before Jesus, waiting to hear words of condemnation, she heard instead two absolutely incredible words [“My daughter…”], and these two words healed her.

… What heals the broken heart and the wounded spirit? What heals the heart is simply a word spoken to the depths of the spirit of the sick person. It is a word that is understood by the spirit of the person in such a way as to resolve the psycho-spiritual pathology – the fear, the conflicts, the anxiety, the guilt, the despair. When this word heals the inner pathology, the whole person can be healed.”

The question is: Is it possible for us to heal our patients in this way?  And if so, how?

Beginning November 18th, Siloam Family Health Center will be featuring a lunch discussion on whole-person care every 3rd Tuesday of the month.  All members of Siloam staff, volunteers, trainees and members of the Nashville medical community are welcome to attend.

An article will be selected that focuses on what it means to offer whole-person care with Dr. Morgan Wills facilitating a discussion around the topic presented.

If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to me at to receive the reading for the discussion and bring your lunch to join us while we discuss what it means to offer whole-person care.

This week we will be spending time discussing “The Healing Team” from Dan Fountain’s book God, Medicine, and Miracles.

If you would like to read the full length of his 1998 address, we encourage you to read the article here:

Joseph Pearce: Healing through a Fairy-tale

Those who work in healthcare are no strangers to the struggles their patients face in the areas of suffering and addiction. As ones whose work is to heal, we are brushing against the hurt underlying the physical symptoms we diagnose, but how do we navigate the messy waters of another person’s suffering and their methods of coping?

It was G.K. Chesterton who once wrote, “The more truly we can see life as a fairy-tale, the more clearly the tale resolves itself into war with the dragon who is wasting fairyland.” Through the lens of a story, we are often provided an understanding to our own human psychology that provides unprecedented value to our approach to healing.


Joseph Pearce, writer of the recent book, “Bilbo’s Pilgrimage” and Director of the Aquinas Center for Faith and Culture, will be speaking on the connection between Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series and its way of imaginatively reflecting on reality in a lecture titled, “Suffering, Addiction and Healing in The Lord of the Rings.” This lecture, presented by St. Thomas Health, will be held on October 21st at Saint Cecilia Academy on the Dominican Campus.

If you live in the Nashville area, we encourage you to consider attending Joseph Pearce’s lecture and to be inspired to see the struggles & addictions that you and your patients face in a whole new light.

Please view this flyer for more information about the event and the availability of CME.

Contact for more information and to RSVP.

Upcoming Event – Grace Prescriptions

save the date website version

As a Christian medical professional, treading the waters where faith and medicine intersect can seem murky with the feeling of being ill-equipped to approach the topic of faith with patients.  Yet it is this patient–provider relationship that provides such rich ground to plant seeds of spiritual hope in patients as they face their hours of deepest hurt and fear.

On the weekend of February 6-7th, Siloam will host Grace Prescriptions – a conference designed specifically for Christian medical practitioners to become equipped to integrate their faith with their practice.  Formerly known as “The Saline Solution,” Grace Prescriptions is a training paradigm pioneered by the Christian Medical and Dental Association.  Written by Bill Peel and Dr. Walt Larimore, the curriculum is designed to explore the topic of spirituality in healthcare and equip those of us in the medical profession to integrate faith into our practice.

We invite you to come and be a part of this weekend of gathering with other Christian healthcare practitioners and their teams from around the Nashville region.  For more information, please visit our Events page as we announce further updates.

Registration opens October 6th.

Lunch Talk at Vanderbilt


On Monday, March 10th, Dr. Ralph Wood will be having a lunch talk from noon to 1 PM at Vanderbilt Medical School titled the “Literature of C.S. Lewis and Considerations for Formation of Moral Character of Physicians.”   This event, sponsored by SSCD, CMA and MCF, is open to the public and will be a lecture in which the literature of C.S. Lewis is used as a lens through which to explore character formation in the world of the medical community.

For more information about Dr. Ralph Wood and the event, please visit the event’s website to learn more.

Upcoming Event – C3: Courageous Conversations

On March 6th– the 8th, St. George’s Episcopal Church will be hosting its 4th Annual C3: Christ | Church | Culture event in Nashville —an event to engage courageous conversation within the Christian community.


This 3-day event will feature renowned speakers and musical artists such as Phil Keaggy, Rachel Held Evans, and more.  Over 1000 people will gather from across the country to learn and discuss ways to create courageous conversations that do not ruin relationships.  The conference is for church leaders, students, artists, pastors, professors, lay people and anyone who wants to engage the culture around them with the Gospel. For more information, please see the event’s website here.

My Burmese Family

As my feet crossed the threshold of the door, I immediately Burma Map - hit with a wave of heat. The smell of fried eggs rolls and homemade broth filled my nostrils and a sense of home and happiness crept up inside me. I knew right away that this was going to be no ordinary experience.

The main room of the apartment was small with bare walls. The floor was carpet, but a large red plastic mat was spread out for people to sit on. The only thing lighting up the room was a small one-light-bulb lamp in the corner.

Nancy* and Grace*, our friends from the Burmese church, ushered us to sit as we entered the apartment. Slowly the room began to fill with Burmese people who were part of their congregation, most of whom could not speak English. Every person that walked through that doorway would shake our hand while having the most genuine smile on their face. Kids were running around everywhere, yelling, laughing, and playing with balloons and balls. I couldn’t help but sit in awe, enjoying the beautiful chaos that God allowed us to be part of.

Nancy* was born and raised in Burma but she fled with her two brothers about 7 years ago to Malaysia due to political instability and injustice in their home country. They stayed in Malaysia for about 4 years before being given the chance to relocate to the United States with the help of the UN. She remembers being very scared of the police in Malaysia because they would imprison Burmese people with no valid reason. She remembers a story about a man who was living on one of the top floors of a tall building. He heard the police coming so he hid in a box that was set next to the window. Unfortunately, the window was open and he fell to his death.

If you met Nancy* on the street and started talking to her, you probably would never guess the life she lived before coming to America because she always has a big smile on her face. I asked her if she liked being here or if she missed home. She responded by saying, ‘When I was on the plane, I looked out the window and saw all the churches that were here. I immediately knew I would be okay. This could be home. God is so good.’ Her words amazed me.

I will never be able to fully comprehend what this beautiful woman has gone through because growing up here is so different. But I do know one thing. The faith of each person in that room that night was something to be admired and a challenge to look at my own faith.

After we all ate together, Pastor John pulled out his guitar and we all began singing the familiar chorus, ‘Shout to the Lord’. Then, the congregation began praising God with a song in Burmese. There weren’t many of us in that room, but the voices singing were loud, clear, honest, and beautiful. I remember sitting there with my eyes closed and just listening, thinking how this has to be a glimpse of what heaven might be like. God is so good.Melissa Puntkattalee - CHI 2013 participant

*Names were changed for privacy.

Jane is a participant in Siloam’s six-week Community Health Immersion.

Living Out A Grander Story

Claire Johnson - CHI 2013 participant

I’m going to be honest: I am one of the least qualified candidates for the position of CHI intern. Perhaps it’s due to the myriad of paradoxes in my life–I’m an English major studying medicine, for example–but I don’t often feel as if I have a comfortable niche in this life. I am a storyteller, interested in the lives of those around me and how I can glorify the Lord through creating happier endings. Far from hindering me, I view this discomfort as a great blessing because it serves to keep me humble, knowing that no good thing comes to me from personal merit, but solely from above.

I applied for the CHI internship several months ago prayerfully, realizing that the pool of qualified, 4.0 GPA applicants filled a wide hoop that I did not fit into. Although I knew acceptance was a stretch, when I came across the program something deep inside my heart whispered go. The opportunity seemed to speak to the hidden part of my passion that longs to live in this worldly culture but not of it, to be a part in a grander story. In Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles In a Thousand Years, he describes story as “any character that wants something and overcomes conflict to get it”, which brings me to ask myself what kinds of conflict define my day-to-day life? Petty arguments with my friends? Stress over grades/relationships/desires? Reading Miller’s novel brought to my attention that I was created for conflicts bigger than the ones I’ve been living. I’ve been living a story focused on the mundane details of my own life, when I’m called towards a story that encompasses the breadth of humanity.

Acceptance into the CHI program caused conflict in my home: my wonderful parents could not understand what part of me felt the need to intern 9 hours away from home, to work without pay, to uproot myself the summer before my senior year at Hope College. Surely these opportunities are everywhere, they said; however, after hearing my excitement and watching the CHI video, they quickly were sold to the eternal impact of the opportunity with the Siloam Institute. My sweet mother gave me the best commendation when she mentioned that the CHI internship seemed like something my favorite author, Bob Goff, would endorse: a summer spent loving others and loving God by doing. By being present. By writing a greater story.

As I write this I’m sitting at my home in rural Michigan. My brother sits across from me watching the movie A Knight’s Tale, and I’m realizing that like the movie’s protagonist I hope that I, too, can “change the stars”; both the stars of my own monotonous existence and the stars of worldwide healthcare. With the Lord beside me I look forward to the upcoming summer to help me understand my role in that change, and to beckon me onward to adventure. Onward to a bigger story. Onward to a love that does.

Editor’s note: Claire is one of six pre-medical students from across the country who will spend the summer in Nashville in a Community Health Immersion.

God’s Call to Let Him be the Driver

Melissa Puntkattalee - CHI 2013 participant

If you had asked me 5 years ago what I would be doing during the summer of 2013, I would have never told you that I’d planned on doing a spiritually-led community health immersion

program. In fact, I probably would never have seen myself doing the things I am doing today such as going to church, attending small group with amazing sisters and brothers in Christ, or becoming involved with Christian organizations at my college. Nope, these were definitely things I did not have planned, but I’m so grateful that these are the things that are happening in my life today. When God moves and when God is the driver, the best things happen.

Growing up in a Buddhist family, I learned a lot about other cultures and religions before coming to faith in Christ. The past 5 years of my life have been filled with positive, spiritually-led change that has molded me into who I am now. Last December, I attended a mission conference in St. Louis called Urbana. There I heard from powerful speakers and strong believers who truly had the courage to follow God’s call for their life. Their faith and conviction blew me away. I spent a lot of time reflecting and just praying to God that I too would have the same courage and that He would guide my path. He has always given me a heart for those who live in poverty, especially since poverty is what tears my parent’s homeland, Thailand, apart. I felt that God continued to put that on my heart.

Here are a few things that have stuck with me from Urbana that constantly remind and fuel my passion to do missions for God, while continuing to grow closer to Him. Back from Urbana, I really felt like He wanted me to explore and develop my passion to serve others in this way while growing in Him this summer. By chance, I came across Community Health Immersion (CHI) and right away I knew this was what God wanted me to do. As a pre-health student, I encountered many great summer programs that included shadowing surgeons and doing research, but none of them seemed to be right for me like the CHI did. God has a plan for me and my fellow participants and I know this summer will be the best yet because God is the driver of it and He is moving.

“The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

“The grace of God is unearnable.”

“Even faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains.”

“Don’t be confused, for proximity to the father is not the same thing as intimacy with the father.”

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9